By Robert A. Vella
Mexico caved-in to President Trump’s bullying tactics like a court jester bows to an abusive king. The threat of tariffs – that never were and never would be – were more than enough pressure to send the frightened little chihuahua of a Mexican president running for the border to do the giant Gringo’s bidding. No eres macho, México!
The Trump administration has withheld a government climate change report from being included in testimony before a House committee. Trump thinks that if the public can’t see something, it won’t know it’s there… even if that something is a 500 lb gorilla in the room.
There are some interesting updates today on court cases resulting from the Mueller investigation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blocking all legislation, including bipartisan bills, which would increase the security of America’s elections against external threats such as those perpetrated by Russia since 2016.
The G20 is attempting to close legal loopholes which are allowing massive tax evasion by large corporations and wealthy interests.
Mexico bows to Trump
The agreement, which came just two days before Trump had vowed to impose a 5 percent, across-the-board tariff on one of the United States’ top trading partners, called for the Mexican government to widely dispatch its national guard forces to help with immigration enforcement, with priority in the south, on its border with Guatemala, according to a joint statement.
In addition, the two countries would expand a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), created this year, that allows the United States to return Central American migrants to Mexico while they await the adjudication of their asylum hearings in U.S. immigration court, a process that can take months.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted about the deal shortly after Trump, adding that he would still hold a planned rally in Tijuana on Saturday meant to “defend the dignity of Mexico.”
Climate report withheld
White House officials barred a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony this week to the House Intelligence Committee warning that human-caused climate change could be “possibly catastrophic” after State officials refused to excise the document’s references to the scientific consensus on climate change.
Francesco Femia, CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks and co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, questioned why the White House would not have allowed an intelligence official to offer a written statement that would be entered into the permanent record.
“This is an intentional failure of the White House to perform a core duty: inform the American public of the threats we face. It’s dangerous and unacceptable,” Femia said in an email Friday. “Any attempt to suppress information on the security risks of climate change threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”
Former Roger Stone employee Andrew Miller has turned over records related to his old boss to a federal grand jury, including the now-indicted political operative’s schedule from the 2016 Republican National Convention, his attorney said Friday.
The grand jury subpoenaed Miller for all text messages between Stone and him from early October 2016 to mid-March 2017, and the written agenda for Stone while he was at the Republican National Convention in 2016, according to Miller’s lawyer, Paul Kamenar.
The recent grand jury activity indicates prosecutors are still looking into Stone for potentially new charges, though it’s not clear if Stone or someone else is the target in the investigation.
A federal judge ruled Friday that the FBI must release some of the redacted sections of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos of his conversations with President Trump.
James E. Boasberg of the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the redactions must be released in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought against the FBI by CNN, saying that the agency’s publication of redacted memos on its website and the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report led him to his decision.
Boasberg ruled in 2018 that the memos would remain redacted amid Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The anonymous foreign-government-owned company that fought a subpoena in the special counsel investigation for months appears to be off the hook, while prosecutors continue to put significant resources into investigating what Robert Mueller pursued related to the company, according to newly unsealed court records.
The company had handed over documents in two parts — about 950 pages in total — in early February, after losing some of its appeal attempts. Many of those pages were translated into English for Mueller, the filings say, implying that the country that owned the company isn’t primarily English-speaking.
Election security blocked
WASHINGTON — A raft of legislation intended to better secure United States election systems after what the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, called a “sweeping and systematic” Russian attack in 2016 is running into a one-man roadblock in the form of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
The bills include a Democratic measure that would send more than $1 billion to state and local governments to tighten election security, but would also demand a national strategy to protect American democratic institutions against cyberattacks and require that states spend federal funds only on federally certified “election infrastructure vendors.” A bipartisan measure in both chambers would require internet companies like Facebook to disclose the purchasers of political ads.
Another bipartisan Senate proposal would codify cyberinformation-sharing initiatives between federal intelligence services and state election officials, speed up the granting of security clearances to state officials and provide federal incentives for states to adopt paper ballots.
G20 hits tax evasion
FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) – Group of 20 finance ministers agreed to push ahead on compiling common rules that will close loopholes that global technology giants like Facebook use to reduce their corporate tax burden.
Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other large tech companies have come under criticism for cutting their tax bills by booking profits in low-tax countries regardless of the location of the end customer, practices seen by many as unfair.
The new rules mean higher tax burdens for large multi-national firms, but will also make it more difficult for countries like Ireland to attract foreign direct investment with the promise of ultra-low corporate tax rates.