The other shoe that I expected to drop has. “Some of Robert Mueller’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated,” the New York Times reports. I mean, we all expected this, right?
“Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.” “It was unclear how much discussion Mr. Mueller and his investigators had with senior Justice Department officials about how their findings would be made public. It was also unclear how widespread the vexation is among the special counsel team, which included 19 lawyers, about 40 F.B.I. agents and other personnel.”
Finally, it is subpoena time. First, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal took the step Wednesday of officially requesting Donald Trump’s tax returns for the last six years, 2013 through 2018. Chairman Neal, who has the statutory authority to make such a query as head of the panel, requested tax returns from eight Trump entities, including the Foundation, the Trump Trust, and his personal holdings LLCs through which Trump receives income.
Neal wants to know whether any of those entities were under audit, for how long, the statute of limitations on that audit, the issues under audit and reasons for the audit, and the present status of the audit. Neal has given the IRS until April 10 to return the requested information. President Trump has refused to provide his tax returns, and in a break from other presidential candidates, never released his returns. The New York Times says the request will start “what is likely to be a momentous fight with his administration.”
Second, “the House Intelligence Committee has asked one of the top contractors to President Trump’s inaugural to provide it with documents about the event, a person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday, opening up a new line of inquiry into the planning and financing of the ceremonies,” the New York Times reports. “The committee asked for documents from and an interview with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who had been a close friend of the first lady, Melania Trump, and who had helped plan the celebrations and parties around the inaugural.”
Third, House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings said Wednesday he’s preparing to send a “friendly” subpoena to an accounting firm that has indicated its willingness to turn over 10 years of Donald Trump’s financial records. “They have told us that they will provide the information pretty much when they have a subpoena,” Cummings told Politico. “And we’ll get them a subpoena.” Last month, Cummings had sent a letter to the accounting firm, Mazars USA, requesting information related to Michael Cohen’s testimony that Trump regularly inflated and deflated his net worth, depending on his financial needs.
Fourth, the House Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena of a full and unredacted copy of the Mueller Report. Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said that he would give Attorney General Bill Barr “time to change his mind” about providing the full, unredacted report, but that the subpoena would be served if he does not voluntarily comply, Axios reports.
The senior White House official whose security clearance was denied last year because of concerns about foreign influence, private business interests and personal conduct is presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, the Washington Post reports.
“The new details about the internal debate over Kushner’s clearance revives questions about the severity of the issues flagged in his background investigation and Kushner’s access to government secrets.”
“Joe Biden posted a video on Twitter pledging to be more mindful of people’s personal space in the wake of multiple allegations from women accusing the former vice president of making them uncomfortable with his physical contact,” Politico reports. “Biden said the contact — handshakes, hugs and shoulder grabs — were his way of showing support to others, something he appreciated during times of hardship in his own life.”
“But the former vice president also acknowledged that social norms have changed and promised to adapt his own behavior accordingly.”
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told President Trump in a conversation Monday that the Senate will not be moving comprehensive health care legislation before the 2020 election, despite the president asking Senate Republicans to do that in a meeting last week,” The Hill reports. “McConnell said he made clear to the president that Senate Republicans will work on bills to keep down the cost of health care, but that they will not work on a comprehensive package to replace the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is trying to strike down in court.”
So President Trump then tweeted that Republicans are developing a “really great” health care plan that will be “far less expensive and much more usable” than Obamacare. But he says a vote on the plan “will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate and win back the House.” Trump then tweeted today that he wanted the 2020 election to be all about healthcare. LOL, please proceed, Governor.
First Read: “For the short term, Trump’s decision to punt on health carefor the time being relieves some anxiety for congressional Republicans after Trump’s Justice Department said the entire Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, is unconstitutional.”
“Thought bubble for a GOP senator: ‘Phew, we don’t have to come up with another plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.’”
“But in the long term, at least through the 2020 election, Trump’s tweets allow every Democratic campaign to say, ‘The president wants the presidential election to be a referendum on health care!’ And we saw how that played out in 2018.”
Washington Examiner: “Controversial former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was castigated by liberals as the evil genius behind former President George W. Bush, is now a steady, quiet, and influential force behind his daughter Liz Cheney’s climb to the highest echelons of GOP politics.”
“A political duo since Dick Cheney, 78, left the West Wing in 2009, their partnership has extended to the House of Representatives, where Liz Cheney, 52, was elected the No. 3 ranking Republican after winning just her second term last year in the at-large seat her father once held. The Wyoming congresswoman’s chief of staff is a longtime Dick Cheney aide, and the former veep is a ubiquitous presence at strategy sessions and at fundraisers for her political operation.”
“President Trump — who has previously issued baseless claims about ballot-counting and voter fraud — warned House Republicans on Tuesday night to be ‘more paranoid’ about vote tallies,” CNN reports. Said Trump: “I don’t like the way the votes are being tallied. I don’t like it, and you don’t like it either. You just don’t want to say it because you’re afraid of the press. You’re afraid of the press.”
“Stephen Moore, President Trump’s presumptive nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, said on Tuesday that he had no plans to withdraw from contention for the job despite ethical and financial problems that have surfaced in recent days,” the New York Times reports. Said Moore: “It’s full speed ahead.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is expressing irritation at what he calls “idiotic” comments by President Trump about wind energy, CBS News reports. Grassley told reporters that the comments “were first of all idiotic and it doesn’t show much respect for Chuck Grassley as the grandfather of the wind energy tax credit.”
New York Times: “For the third time in six years, the majority party in the Senate detonated the so-called nuclear option on Wednesday to unilaterally change years-old rules of the chamber with a simple-majority vote. This time, to work through a backlog of President Trump’s judicial and administration nominations, Republicans cut the time between ending debate and a final confirmation vote on executive-branch nominees and district court judges from 30 hours to two.”
“The change was a provocative step that reignited a bitter partisan fight over presidential nominations that has raged for a decade and spanned presidencies from both parties. Democrats dwelled at length over the blockade that stopped Judge Merrick B. Garland from ascending to the Supreme Court in the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency to angrily question how Republicans could complain about the handling of Mr. Trump’s nominees.”
Washington Post: “Under previous Senate orders, these nominees used to require 30 hours of debate after they had cleared an initial procedural vote. Now, such nominees will receive just two hours of formal debate before a final confirmation roll call.”
Wall Street Journal: “President Trump is blaming the Federal Reserve for holding back the economy and stock market despite the central bank’s recent decision to do two things he wanted—halt rate increases and stop shrinking its asset portfolio. The president blasted the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell at three meetings in the past week alone, telling Republican senators, supporters and staffers that if it wasn’t for the central bank’s past rate increases, economic output and stocks would be higher and the U.S. budget deficit would be rising less.”
“Mr. Trump also blamed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for recommending Mr. Powell for the top Fed job.”
“And he recalled a recent phone conversation he had with Mr. Powell, this person said. ‘I guess I’m stuck with you,’ the president recalled telling Mr. Powell.”
“The filibuster is in peril. With Republicans expected to change the Senate rules to slash debate time on President Trump’s nominees this week, it will mark the third time the ‘nuclear option’ — changing Senate rules by a simple majority — has been triggered in just six years,” Politico reports.
“Each of those unilateral moves by a Senate majority to weaken the Senate’s age-old precedents centered on nominations, leaving the legislative filibuster and its 60-vote threshold unscathed. But some senators say it’s just a matter of time before even that Senate institution is more or less wiped away by a majority tired of seeing its big ideas blocked.”
“Ben Ray Luján just gave Hakeem Jeffries a big gift: A clearer path to the speaker’s chair,” Politico reports. “Luján’s decision to jump into the New Mexico Senate race — waiving the chance to move up in House leadership — removes a potential rival for Jeffries (D-NY).”
“Luján, Jeffries and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) are widely considered the leaders of the next generation of House Democrats. They’re the ones who will pick up the mantle from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) when the septuagenarian triumvirate eventually moves on.”
“House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said he sees it as a foregone conclusion that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will face questioning by Congress following the release of his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Bloombergreports.
Said Schiff: “I think it’s inevitable that Bob Mueller is going to have to testify before Congress.”
He added that his committee has “a statutory requirement that the Intelligence Community, FBI, brief us on any significant counterintelligence or intelligence activity. And it’s hard to imagine something that rises more to that level than this investigation.”