By Robert A. Vella
Parliamentary elections in the European Union are ending today and we’ll get the results by tomorrow. Far-right populists are expected to make some gains but not enough to shift the balance of power according to most political analysts. After last week’s court ruling against Donald Trump’s moves to keep his financial records concealed, the president has agreed to allow the courts to resolve this issue quickly in exchange for House Democrats suspending their subpoena enforcement plans. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta may have to face some of the victims of a sex trafficking operation (which exploited underage girls) in federal court if the judge approves their request. Acosta, who was then a federal prosecutor in Florida, granted perpetrator Jeffrey Epstein a secret immunity deal in 2007 which is now under federal investigation. In the Pacific Northwest, a white supremacist refuge east of the Cascade Range has been put in the public spotlight after a far-right Republican legislator in Washington state was exposed as being associated with a hate group which planned illegal activities against “leftists” including violence.
Trump subpoena deal
Lawyers for President Donald Trump have reached an agreement with the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees to hold off for now on enforcing the subpoenas for Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, according to a court document and a source familiar with the agreement.
Similar to a deal reached earlier this week with the House Oversight committee, the agreement allows for an expedited appeal schedule.
Labor Secretary to face victims
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, already under federal investigation for a secret immunity deal he gave to a suspected sex trafficker of underage girls, may have to face some of those victims — who are now adult women — in a federal courtroom.
In a new court filing, two victims, molested as teenagers a decade ago, are asking a federal judge to hold a hearing for all the women who were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein, a multimillionaire financier who received a non-prosecution agreement from Acosta when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Miami in 2007.
The request for a hearing is one of a litany of possible remedies proffered by the victims, who have been waging a decade-long legal battle to put Epstein in prison for his crimes and to hold prosecutors — mainly Acosta — accountable for violating their rights.
White supremacist refuge in the northwest
In 2018, at least nine hate groups operated in the region of Spokane and northern Idaho, including Identity Evropa, Proud Boys, ACT for America and America’s Promise Ministries, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center does not track how many members belong to each group.
Also last month, The Guardian published internet chats from 2017 in which a Washington state legislator and three other men discussed confronting “leftists” with a variety of tactics, including violence, surveillance and intimidation.
The messages prompted Washington House Democrats to demand that the Republican lawmaker, Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley, be reprimanded for a history of far-right speech and activities. While Shea did not propose violence, he did not speak up when violence was proposed, Democrats said.
House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox of Yelm responded that Shea should not be punished before investigations are completed. The House, led by Democrats, will conduct an independent investigation of the lawmaker.
He has served in the state House since 2008, introducing bills to criminalize abortion and roll back gun laws and pushing for eastern Washington to secede from the rest of the state. The military veteran attracted international attention in 2018 after a document he wrote laid out a “biblical basis for war” against people who practiced same-sex marriage and abortion, and instructed: “If they do not yield, kill all males.”