What Now?! – 5/8/19

Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that the Trump administration’s defiance of subpoenas could be an impeachable offense, even as the top White House lawyer instructed his predecessor not to comply with a subpoena from House Democrats, Bloomberg reports.

Pelosi noted that one of the articles of impeachment against President Nixon was based on ignoring subpoenas from Congress: “That could be part of an impeachable offense… Every day he’s obstructing justice by saying this one should testify, that one shouldn’t testify.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would not meet the Democrats’ demand for six years of President Trump’s tax filings , saying it lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose,” the Washington Post reports.

“House Democrats say the returns are part of necessary oversight, while the administration has rejected the request as part of a politically motivated witch hunt.”

Wall Street Journal: “The move, which Mr. Mnuchin had signaled for weeks, will likely send the dispute between the executive and legislative branches into federal court. Judges may take months or years to resolve the legal question about the boundaries of congressional investigations.”

The New York Times says the move sets up “a legal battle likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.”

Ten years of tax information obtained by the New York Times “paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of President Trump’s deal-making abilities and financial condition” than was previously known.

“The data — printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 — represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career — an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.”

“The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.”

“As the standoff over President Trump’s federal tax returns deepens in Washington, New York State lawmakers say they intend to advance a bill on Wednesday to allow congressional committees to see Mr. Trump’s New York State returns,” the New York Times reports.

“State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, confirmed on Tuesday that the State Senate has enough votes to ensure passage of a bill… The State Assembly has been slower to embrace the bill. ”

“A tax return from New York — where the president has the headquarters of his business empire and a home in Trump Tower — could contain much of the same financial information as a federal return, which Mr. Trump has steadfastly refused to release.”

“When President Trump contradicted his own attorney general and declared on Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller ‘should not testify’ before Congress, he caught his inner circle by surprise,” Politicoreports.

“A day later, more than a dozen people from Trump’s close orbit downplayed in interviews the prospect that the president’s weekend tweet about Mueller should be taken as an official warning.”

“Trump does not actually intend to assert executive privilege and block the special counsel from testifying as soon as next week, they said, before the one House committee with the power to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.”

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly canceled a scheduled trip to Germany where he was planning to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘due to pressing issues,’” CNN reports. Pompeo arrived in Iraq amid escalating tensions with Iran, The Hill reports.

Washington Post: “Pompeo’s sudden visit to Baghdad came as an aircraft carrier and bomber task force rushed to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran.”

“It sounded almost like a conspiracy theory when Jeff Bezos not-so-subtly hinted that there might be a Saudi connection to the attempt to strong-arm him with his ‘below the belt selfies,’” the Daily Beast reports.

“But there’s mounting evidence that the de facto ruler of the kingdom has been trying to punish Bezos for the fierce coverage by his newspaper, The Washington Post, of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This effort began months prior to the aggressive approach by the National Enquirer’s parent company.”

“Senate Republicans feel that President Trump has once again pulled the rug out from under them on trade, leaving GOP lawmakers frustrated over their inability to influence the White House’s policy on an issue that could have major economic and electoral ramifications,” The Hill reports.

“Days after a group of Republican senators relayed to Trump at a White House meeting their concerns about trade tensions with Canada, Mexico, Europe and China, Trump over the weekend threatened new tariffs on China, escalating a fight with Beijing and rattling markets.”

Associated Press: “The president stewed for days about the prospect of the media coverage that would be given to Mueller, a man Trump believes has been unfairly lionized across cable news and the front pages of the nation’s leading newspapers for two years, according to three White House officials and Republicans close to the White House.”

“Trump feared a repeat — but bigger — of the February testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, which dominated news coverage and even overshadowed a nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.”

“Trump has long known the power of televised images and feared that Americans would be captivated by seeing — and hearing — Mueller, who has not spoken publicly since being named special counsel.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed legislation that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected, CBS News reports.

“That usually happens about five to six weeks into a pregnancy — before most women know that they’re pregnant — leading abortion rights advocates to call the bill a de facto ban on abortion in the state.”

“The Trump administration may alter the way it determines the national poverty threshold, putting Americans living on the margins at risk of losing access to welfare programs,” Bloomberg reports.

“The possible move would involve changing how inflation is calculated in the ‘official poverty measure,’ the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a regulatory filing on Monday. The formula has been used for decades to determine whether people qualify for certain federal programs and benefits.”

FBI Director Chris Wray told senators that he would not describe the federal government’s surveillance — such as that conducted on President Trump’s 2016 campaign — as “spying,” as Attorney General William Barr has, NBC News reports.

Said Wray: “That’s not the term I would use. I mean, look, there are a lot of people that have different colloquial phrases. I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity and part of that activity is surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities. That’s the key question, different people use different colloquial phrases.”

White House counsel Pat Cipollone has instructed former counsel Don McGahn to withhold subpoenaed documents from the House Judiciary Committee, the Washington Post reports.

Cipollone said McGahn does not have the legal right to the documents, and the committee must address any request for the materials to the White House.

“House Democrats on Monday demanded government records related to the federal response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, as President Trump and his critics continue to feud over whether the administration exacerbated the human suffering from one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory,” the Washington Post reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “What Now?! – 5/8/19

  1. cassandram

    They need to fast-track Mnuchin to the pokey. These Goldman types aren’t built for jailhouse survival.

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