“The House voted Wednesday evening to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over key documents related to the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census,” the New York Times reports.
“The citations for two cabinet officials will breathe new life into a dispute that has touched all three branches of government over why Trump administration officials pushed to ask census respondents if they were American citizens and what that question’s impact would be.”
Politico: “The seeming lack of results has fueled criticism among progressive lawmakers and activists. But there are real reasons for the go-slow approach: An overstretched team of House lawyers along with Democrats’ fear of an adverse court ruling that could have long-lasting ramifications.”
“House Democrats say they are also focused on meticulously building a record of the Trump administration’s resistance to their investigations in order to help persuade a court to rule in their favor and break the White House blockade. Rushing into it, they say, could backfire — even as angst on the left has begun to swell.”
The House killed an attempt to impeach President Trump for statements that the chamber condemned this week as racist, the New York Times reports. Actually, the House tabled a motion to proceed to a vote on impeachment. “ 95 Democrats signaled their support for impeachment, while 137 opposed it.”
Washington Post: “The vote is likely to rankle the Democratic Party’s left wing, which has been pushing for Trump’s impeachment.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, The Hillreports.
“Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) tried to win the Senate’s consent to approve the House-passed bill, which would reauthorize funding until fiscal year 2090. The bill cleared the House in a 402-12 vote last week. But Paul objected, pointing to the country’s growing debt and arguing that any new spending should be offset by cuts to other spending.”
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested tonight that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may be within striking distance of a two-year agreement to avoid billions in automatic spending cuts and a calamitous default on the nation’s debt,” Politico reports.
Said Pelosi: “We have a clear understanding of what we want to agree to and I think that’s progress.”
A 1992 video from NBC News shows Donald Trump and Jefferey Epstein “laughing and pointing as they appear to discuss young and beautiful women dancing at a party.”
Epstein is currently “in federal lockup awaiting a bail decision as he fights sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.”
Washington Post: “As the uproar over President Trump’s racist remarks demanding four minority Democratic lawmakers ‘go back [to countries] from which they came’ continued to flare Tuesday, the White House prepared to roll out a plan that would detail the type of immigrants the administration wants to admit to the United States.”
“Senior Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday immediately began downplaying the prospects of the White House’s proposal — an effort led primarily by senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law — even before they had been briefed on its details.”
Said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD): “To get it to the floor, you have to have some bipartisan buy-in. There would have to be a lot of work that would get done, and I don’t sense that they’re anywhere close to having done that work with Republicans, let alone with Democrats.”
“Federal prosecutors in New York have ended their investigation into the Trump Organization’s role in hush money payments made to women who alleged affairs with President Trump and have been ordered by a judge to release additional information connected to their related probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen,” CNN reports.
“Over a round of golf this past weekend, Sen. Rand Paul asked President Donald Trump’s blessing for a sensitive diplomatic mission,” Politico reports.
“Paul, best known in the Senate for his isolationist foreign policy views, proposed sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf. The aim: to reduce tensions between the two countries. Trump signed off on the idea.”
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plan to meet to discuss their icy relationship, a development that comes after the House voted to condemn remarks by President Trump about the freshman Democratic congresswoman and her three closest allies as racist,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Mrs. Pelosi and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez haven’t had a conversation in months, according to a Democratic aide.”
“Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is recommending that the agency cut back on inspections at the country’s nuclear reactors, a cost-cutting move promoted by the nuclear power industry but denounced by opponents as a threat to public safety,” the AP reports.
“The recommendations, made public Tuesday, include reducing the time and scope of some annual inspections at the nation’s 90-plus nuclear power plants. Some other inspections would be cut from every two years to every three years.”
NPR: “At a Border Patrol holding facility in El Paso, Texas, an agent told a Honduran family that one parent would be sent to Mexico while the other parent and their three children could stay in the United States… The agent turned to the couple’s youngest daughter — 3-year-old Sofia, whom they call Sofi — and asked her to make a choice.”
“John Paul Stevens, a moderate midwestern Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago who evolved into a savvy and sometimes passionate leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing and became the third-longest-serving justice on the high court before his retirement in 2010, died July 16 at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale,” the Washington Postreports.
He was 99.
Jeffrey Toobin: “It wasn’t just the Republican Party that evolved during Stevens’s thirty-four years on the Court (the third-longest tenure in history). Stevens moved left on some issues, especially the death penalty, which he came to see as an institution fatally at variance with the nation’s legal traditions. (Blackmun had reached the same conclusion, a few years earlier.) Still, it’s clear that the Republican Party changed more than Stevens did. The party of Donald Trump—and of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, his appointees to the Court—shares almost nothing with the humane ideological home of John Paul Stevens.”
“Trump is not a deep thinker about legal issues, but he understood politics well enough to know that he could prove himself to the right-wing base of his adopted party by embracing its extremist agenda for the Supreme Court. This commitment remains the core of his appeal to his party. In fact if not in words, Trump and his appointees are dedicated to overturning virtually everything that Stevens stood for as a Justice: equal rights for women, including the right to choose abortion; civil rights for gay people and for racial minorities, especially concerning the right to vote; a sensible understanding of the right to regulate guns under the Second Amendment (which Stevens, in retirement, called for repealing); separation of church and state; reasonable limits on the power of the Presidency.”
“New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.”
“The documents build on the possibility, raised by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on Russian meddling, that couriers brought hacked files to Assange at the embassy.”
“The surveillance reports also describe how Assange turned the embassy into a command center and orchestrated a series of damaging disclosures that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.”
Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said his country was aware that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was interfering in the 2016 US presidential election from the safety of Ecuador’s embassy in London, CNN reports.