By Robert A. Vella
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Trump, but she has a big problem – her own members are demanding it. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met secretly with Democrats to discuss Trump’s associations with hostile foreign actors. Attorney General William Barr has offered a concession to House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff in an effort to avoid congressional enforcement actions against him for refusing to release the full Mueller report and presumably for refusing to testify. An internal Treasury Department memo contradicts the administration’s rationale for withholding Donald Trump’s tax returns. New York state is passing a law allowing for the criminal prosecution of workers and relatives of Trump whom were given presidential pardons by him.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, facing a revolt from members of her caucus, has been compelled to hold an closed-door meeting Wednesday morning to deal with new pressure to go forward with an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Despite a growing number of Democrats tired of delay and calling for action, Pelosi on Tuesday continued to try to deflect the reality that her caucus is beginning to shift toward impeachment, telling ABC News, “No,” when asked if she was under increased pressure to impeach Trump.
But after Trump blocked former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying Tuesday, one after the other, several Democrats publicly bucked Pelosi.
Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson spoke with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday in a lengthy session that, an aide said, touched on his time working in the Trump administration, the frictions he had with the president’s son-in-law, and efforts to tackle issues like Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Tillerson’s appearance, first reported by The Daily Beast, took place as virtually every other Trumpworld luminary has been stonewalling congressional oversight efforts. At the same time the former secretary of state was speaking before lawmakers, former White House counsel Don McGahn was ignoring a subpoena to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
Tillerson’s arrival at the Capitol was handled with extreme secrecy. No media advisories or press releases were sent out announcing his appearance. And he took a little-noticed route into the building in order to avoid being seen by members of the media.
The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would provide the House Intelligence Committee with some materials related to special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation as long as the panel dropped its threat to pursue an “enforcement action” against Attorney General William Barr.
The department made the offer in a three-page letter to Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) one day before the committee is slated to vote on what he has described as an “enforcement action” against Barr. Schiff has not said what shape the action would take.
The Justice Department has said it would allow the full committee to review a less redacted version of the first volume of the report – the section discussing Russian interference in which Schiff’s panel is primarily interested – and identify an initial tranche of materials the committee is demanding that it would prioritize for review and disclosure to the committee.
A confidential Internal Revenue Service legal memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless the president takes the rare step of asserting executive privilege, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The memo contradicts the Trump administration’s justification for denying lawmakers’ request for President Trump’s tax returns, exposing fissures in the executive branch.
Trump has refused to turn over his tax returns but has not invoked executive privilege. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has instead denied the returns by arguing there is no legislative purpose for demanding them.
New York’s prosecution
New York is one signature away from allowing prosecutors to pursue state charges against presidential associates who have received federal pardons.
The Democratic-controlled state assembly on Tuesday passed a bill 90-52 allowing the state-level prosecution of people pardoned of federal crimes, provided that they worked for or were related to the president at the time of the pardon.
If signed, it could short-circuit President Donald Trump’s ability to shield his associates from prosecution, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years in prison on financial crimes stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two dozen U.S. states and municipalities sued the Trump administration on Tuesday to stop it from enforcing a rule that would make it easier for doctors and nurses to avoid performing abortions on religious or moral grounds.
A lawsuit led by New York Attorney General Letitia James said the expanded “conscience” protections could undermine the ability of states and cities to provide effective healthcare without jeopardizing billions of dollars a year in federal aid.
Fred Keller, a Republican state representative, beat Democrat Marc Friedenberg in the race to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th District on Tuesday.
Keller’s victory means that the north-central Pennsylvania district will remain in Republican hands after former Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) stepped down in January, less than one month into his fifth term in office.
The 12th District still tilts heavily in the GOP’s favor, unlike several districts in Pennsylvania that became more competitive for Democrats after the state Supreme Court ordered the state’s congressional lines to be redrawn.
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Washington has become the first state to legalize “human composting,” an alternative to conventional burial and cremation that produces topsoil suitable for gardening.
The law, set to take effect May 1, 2020, paves the way for a Seattle business to build the nation’s first funeral home offering the service. The company, called Recompose, will place bodies in steel vessels with wood chips, alfalfa and straw, enabling microbes to break down bodies into soil in about a month.
Recompose plans to charge about $5,500, more than no-frills cremation and less than burial in a casket.
“It’s not 2016. We are not seeing the automated, networked activity with an obvious Russian fingerprint across these elections,” said Sasha Havlicek, head of London’s Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which has been tracking online disinformation. “What we’re seeing much more of is coordinated, transnational far-right information operations.”
The European Parliament has long been a haven for odd-duck politicians outside the mainstream, since few European citizens actually understand the role of the legislature and fewer still turn out to vote. That has left an opening for people who can command a passionate minority, like Nigel Farage, the Brexit campaigner who has lost seven elections for Britain’s House of Commons but has been in the European Parliament since 1999.