“The White House has asserted executive privilege over the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, in its latest confrontation with Congress,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “The assertion, Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president, came as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same material.”
Meanwhile, “the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the House hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Robert Mueller’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence from public view,” the New York Times reports.
“The committee’s 24-16 contempt vote, taken after hours of debate that featured apocalyptic language about the future of American democracy, marked the first time that the House has taken official action to punish a government official or witness amid a standoff between the legislative and executive branch.”
Washington Post: “The White House’s use of the rare presidential secrecy prerogative stood in stark contrast to Trump and his allies’ frequent boast of’ ‘total exoneration’ for the president from the Mueller report.”
Wall Street Journal: “The fight is now expected to head to federal court and a legal battle with few precedents.”
Playbook: “Consider what’s going on in the oversight realm — the back and forth between the administration and Congress, lawsuits in the offing and impeachment looking incrementally more likely — and ask yourself this question: What can Congress possibly get done?”
“Here’s what needs to be acccomplished in the coming months: finalizing a disaster aid package, lifting the debt limit and, in less than five months, passing a government funding bill. Will the oversight wars affect Democrats’ ability to do basic business with the president? We suspect they will.”
“Remember what people want to accomplish: Infrastructure — but that seems unlikely, two weeks before the president is meant to lay out how he plans to pay for the $2 trillion plan. President Trump wants a drug pricing reform bill. And the White House still has designs on replacing NAFTA with the USMCA. The mood and the vibe on the Hill is as bad as it has been in some time.”
“Months before evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.’s game-changing presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor,” Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters.
“Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy ‘personal’ photographs — the sort that would typically be kept ‘between husband and wife.’” Said Cohen, without divulging specifics: “I actually have one of the photos. It’s terrible.”
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. denied it all to Fox Radio, insisting “no compromising or embarrassing photos” of himself existed. He added: “While we have a long-standing friendship with Michael Cohen, we never engaged or paid Cohen to represent us in any legal or other professional capacity, and Cohen did not ever resolve any legal matter on our behalf.”
Well, Michael, if you have it, publish it. Not that I, or any human, want to see such material.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “said he will sign a bill that would require ex-felons in the state, who were granted the right to vote in a referendum last fall, to pay all financial obligations before they can head to the polls,” CNN reports.
Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R) responded to a top vaccine scientist’s tweets about vaccination exemptions by accusing him of ‘sorcery,’” The Hill reports. Said Strickland: “Parental rights mean more to us than your self enriching ‘science.’”
He continued: “Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime. Like every other business. Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It’s disgusting.”
“The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous testimony before Senate investigators in relation to the Russia investigation,” Axiosreports.
“It’s the first congressional subpoena — that we know about — of one of President Trump’s children. The subpoena sets up a fight that’s unprecedented in the Trump era: A Republican committee chair pit against the Republican president’s eldest son.” Key detail: “The fact that they’re subpoenaing Trump Jr. is a strong signal that he declined a request to appear before the committee again.”
The Washington Post reports Trump Jr. is said to be “exasperated” with the summons. CNN: “One option Trump Jr. is considering in response to the subpoena is to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, and another is just to not appear at all, according to one source.”
“House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal indicated Tuesday that Democrats would go straight to federal court to try to force the administration to give up President Trump’s tax returns, skipping a subpoena or a contempt vote,” Politico reports.
“The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday threatened to withhold the salaries of officials at the departments of the Interior and Commerce if anyone ‘prohibits or prevents’ interviews involved in two ongoing investigations,” Axios reports.
This is more like it. Start playing hardball. Don’t pay them. Cancel out the entire budget of the department. Eliminate their jobs. Arrest them. Jail them.
“Negotiations on a multibillion-dollar disaster aid bill in the Senate have grown more complicated in recent days with a push by the Trump administration to add emergency spending for the U.S.-Mexico border to the bill,” the Washington Post reports.
“The talks over the disaster aid bill were already fraught because of a fight between President Trump and congressional Democrats over spending for Puerto Rico. Trump has yet to agree to a deal offering more than $600 million for the U.S. island territory’s food stamp program, while Democrats say much more is required for needs on many fronts as Puerto Rico recovers slowly from the devastations of Hurricane Maria. Senate Republicans have been prepared to offer more — though perhaps not enough to satisfy Democrats — but it has been unclear whether the White House would support their plans.”
“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors didn’t want former FBI Director James Comey’s memos released because they feared that President Trump and other witnesses could change their stories after reading Comey’s version of events, according to an argument they made in a January 2018 sealed court hearing,” CNN reports.
“The newly released record gives a rare glimpse into the Mueller team’s concerns at a time the special prosecutors were publicly silent about their work — and before redacted versions of Comey’s memos were made public.”
James Risen: “Through his unrelenting efforts to obstruct the Trump-Russia investigation since its inception, President Trump has inflicted a slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre on the American people, a constitutional nightmare that has lasted two years instead of one night.”
“And it is still going on, despite the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation. Trump now has a willing lackey in Attorney General William Barr, who is aiding and abetting the president’s ongoing efforts to control the Justice Department and corrupt the country’s system of checks and balances.”
“The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Trump’s pick for an influential circuit court despite neither home-state senator returning a blue slip,” The Hill reports.
“The confirmation of Joseph Bianco marks the third circuit court judge to ever be confirmed without a blue slip, a sheet of paper that indicates if a home-state senator supports a nominee… The blue-slip rule — a precedent upheld by Senate tradition — has historically allowed a home-state senator to stop a lower-court nominee by refusing to return the blue slip to the Judiciary Committee.”
That tradition is gone forever now. It will not be reinstated when the Democrats retake the Senate. Any Republican who demands such shall immediately be executed by their own hypocrisy.