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Over 4.5 Million Americans signed petitions to Impeach Donald Trump

Dec 2, 2017 12:33PM

4.5 Million Americans are urging Congress to pass a resolution calling for the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate as sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States.

The campaign to Impeach Trump Now and NeedToImpeach campaign total over 4.5 million signatures at the time of writing this update. With news that Mike Flynn will be singing to FBI prosecutors, we have a feeling that number is going to increase.

Flynn Pleads Guilty and Will Cooperate With FBI Russia Inquiry

Dec 2, 2017 8:33AM

President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December, becoming the first senior White House official to cut a cooperation deal in the special counsel’s wide-ranging inquiry into election interference.

Mr. Flynn’s discussions with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, were part of a coordinated effort by Mr. Trump’s aides to create foreign policy before they were in power, documents released as part of Mr. Flynn’s plea agreement show. Their efforts undermined the existing policy of President Barack Obama and flouted a warning from a senior Obama administration official to stop meddling in foreign affairs before the inauguration.

The documents do not disclose what Mr. Trump knew about Mr. Flynn’s discussions. But in at least one instance, prosecutors say, Mr. Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of the presidential transition team to discuss a United Nations resolution. Mr. Trump’s lawyers believe that unnamed aide was Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, according to a lawyer briefed on the matter.

nytimes.com

Trump & Sessions lied Knowing About Russian Contacts

Nov 2, 2017 6:12AM

During two hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has tangled with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) concerning his knowledge of possible communications between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials.

On Monday, court documents were unsealed that show that George Papadopoulos, whom Donald Trump had named as a key foreign policy adviser in March 2016, had pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with foreign officials, including people purporting to work with the Russian government. One filing describes how, at a meeting on March 31, 2016, that was attended by Trump and Sessions, Papadopoulos said “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin.”

Standing before reporters in February, President Trump said unequivocally that he knew of nobody from his campaign who was in contact with Russians during the election. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told the Senate the same thing.

nytimes.com

George Papadopoulos Stipulation and Plea Agreement

Oct 30, 2017 10:25AM

Here is the criminal information:

Records in that case show that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, had frequent discussions with Russians in 2016 and trumpeted his connections in front of Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions.

First charges filed in Muller Investigation

Oct 28, 2017 5:38PM

A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.

The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are. A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment. The White House also had no comment, a senior administration official said Saturday morning.

Mueller's team has also examined foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and others. His team has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to a handful of figures, including some people close to Manafort, and others involved in the Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials. 

Last year, the Comey-led investigation secured approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the communications of Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as part of the investigation into Russian meddling. In addition to Mueller's probe, three committees on Capitol Hill are conducting their own investigations.

cnn.com

Trump is expected to phase out DACA program

Sep 4, 2017 11:38PM

President Trump is expected to phase out the Obama-era program that grants work permits to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, but delay its end for six months to give Congress time to pass legislation to replace it, according to multiple people briefed on the president’s discussions.

Trump’s plan remains fluid and could change, however, and administration officials stressed Sunday evening that the president has not finalized his decision. The White House has scheduled an announcement for Tuesday.

President Trump is expected to phase out the Obama-era program that grants work permits to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, but delay its end for six months to give Congress time to pass legislation to replace it, according to multiple people briefed on the president’s discussions.

Trump has been wrestling over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since the start of his presidency, and he has been known to change his mind about difficult policy issues until the moment he makes public a decision. Politico first reported Sunday evening that Trump had decided to end the DACA program.

washingtonpost.com

Trump pulls back threat to shut down government over border wall

Sep 1, 2017 1:25PM

President Trump threatened to shut down the government over building his promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border during a campaign rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22 after showing frustration with pretty much everyone who knows Mexico will not pay for and congress won't allow budget to be passed. The White House has signaled to congressional Republicans that it will not shut down the government in October if money isn’t appropriated to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, potentially clearing a path for lawmakers to reach a short-term budget deal.

Congress has only appropriated money to fund government operations through the end of September, and President Trump has threatened to shut down the government if lawmakers don’t include $1.6 billion in new funding so that 74 new miles of wall and secondary fencing can be added to the border.

“Build that wall. Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall.”

But two days later, White House officials quietly notified Congress that the $1.6 billion would not need to be in a “continuing resolution” that was meant to fund government operations from October until sometime in early December, a senior GOP congressional aide said.

washingtonpost.com

McConnell Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency

Aug 22, 2017 4:25PM

What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly.

“The quickest way for him to get impeached is for Trump to knock off Jeff Flake and Dean Heller and be faced with a Democrat-led Senate,” said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff.

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

nytimes.com

Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington

Aug 22, 2017 4:25PM

On August 14th, I asked the White House to confirm that Icahn was still a special adviser to the President. The spokeswoman e-mailed me back: “Icahn is NOT ‘a special adviser to the president for regulatory reform.’ ” This was certainly news. In my conversations with Icahn and his lawyer, I had not developed any impression that his status had changed. Was the Administration cutting him loose?

After Icahn became a special adviser to the President, one of his associates called it “the cheapest takeover Carl’s ever done.”
“I chose to end this arrangement,” and citing “the insinuations of a handful of your Democratic critics.” He insisted, “I never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interests.”

I wrote back to the spokeswoman, asking when Icahn had been let go. She replied, “There was no ‘effective’ end date, because there was never a formal appointment or title after January 20.” This was transparently false; Icahn had been named a special adviser to “the President,” not to “the President-elect.” On March 1st, Icahn’s company told the S.E.C. that he was “currently” a Trump adviser. And why had the White House lawyer, Stefan Passantino, recused himself on January 20th from “any matters related to Carl Icahn” if, as of that very day, Icahn had no role in the Administration?

On Friday, August 18th, four days after the White House disavowed Icahn to me, he tweeted, “Today, with President Trump’s blessing, I ceased to act as special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform.” In a letter posted to his Web site, Icahn explained that he had spoken with Trump that day. His resignation came during a week when numerous private-sector advisers distanced themselves from Trump, in response to his equivocal comments in the aftermath of a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. 

In our conversations, Icahn was unfailingly polite about President Trump. But it struck me that it must vex him that Trump—the lesser intellect, the lesser businessman, the little-brother tagalong—may now be too busy to take his phone calls, and would jettison him from his position as a White House special adviser without so much as a heads-up. If Icahn’s raid on Washington has proved unsuccessful, he cannot blame the scrupulousness of the Trump Administration.

newyorker.com

Steve Bannon Fired

Aug 18, 2017 7:45AM

President Trump decided to dismiss Stephen K. Bannon, after weeks of White House upheaval and racial unrest. The ousted chief strategist returned to Breitbart News on Aug. 18.

We have learned today that Stephen Bannon, the most prominent nationalist and friend to the alt-right in the White House, is on his way out. The Post reports that President Trump has decided to remove him:

Coming after the wave of controversy over the events in Charlottesville and Trump’s embrace of the cause of celebrating the confederacy, one might be tempted to view this as some kind of recalibration that could result in a change in the administration’s outlook toward matters of race.

Republicans will likely seize on Bannon’s ouster to argue that, in his heart, Trump isn’t really a racist. Indeed, in recent days, a number of Republicans have stood up to testify to the president’s inclusive heart.

“I know Donald Trump. I don’t think there’s a racist bone in his body,” says Sen. Orrin Hatch
Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump family employee, says the president “doesn’t see color the way the average person does.”

So Steve Bannon may be gone, but we shouldn’t let that fool us into thinking that the Trump administration has undergone some kind of transformation. We’ll know that something has truly changed if the Justice Department displays a genuine commitment to upholding civil rights, or if the administration dials back on its vote suppression efforts, or if the president himself stops making statements that bring so much joy to the most detestable hatemongers in American society.

washingtonpost.com

President Trump must go

Aug 16, 2017 11:45AM

Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon gave the most disgusting public performance in the history of the American presidency. Framed by the vulgar excess of the lobby of Trump Tower, the president of the United States shook loose the constraints of his more decent-minded advisers and, speaking from his heart, defended white supremacists and by extension, their credos of hatred. He equated with those thugs the courageous Americans who had gathered to stand up to the racism, anti-Semitism and doctrine of violence that won the cheers and Nazi salutes of the alt-right hordes to whom Trump felt such loyalty.

After several days in which Trump and his advisers wrestled with what should have been a straightforward task — condemning the instigators of the unrest that rocked Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend — Trump revealed the reason that finding those words was such a struggle. He, too, is an extremist.

No one who values the best of what the United States has stood for could watch without feeling revulsion, anger or heartbreak. No one who comes from a past such as mine, which includes similar mobs rising up and ultimately collaborating in the murder of dozens of my family members in Hitler’s Europe, could view Trump’s performance without a degree of fear as well. Certainly, the same must be true for African Americans who have watched such mobs lynch their family members and seek to deny them the most basic rights.

washingtonpost.com

FBI raided Paul Manafort's home as part of Russia probe

Aug 09, 2017 8:17AM

Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s Virginia home in July, the same day he met voluntarily with staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.

Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

washingtonpost.com

Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day

Aug 08, 2017 3:23PM

Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.

One White House official said the only feedback the White House communications shop, which prepares the folder, has ever gotten in all these months is: “It needs to be more fucking positive.” That’s why some in the White House ruefully refer to the packet as “the propaganda document.”

The process of assembling the folder begins at the Republican National Committee’s “war room,” which has expanded from 4 to 10 people since the GOP won the White House. A war room — both parties have one regardless of who’s in the White House — is often tasked with monitoring local and national news, cable television, social media, digital media, and print media to see how the party, its candidates or their opponents are being perceived.

Beginning at 6 a.m. every weekday — the early start is a longtime war room tradition — three staffers arrive at the RNC to begin monitoring the morning shows on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News as they scour the internet and newspapers. Every 30 minutes or so, the staffers send the White House Communications Office an email with chyron screenshots, tweets, news stories, and interview transcripts.

White House staffers then cull the information, send out clips to other officials, and push favorable headlines to a list of journalists. But they also pick out the most positive bits to give to the president. On days when there aren’t enough positive chyrons, communications staffers will ask the RNC staffers for flattering photos of the president.

“Maybe it’s good for the country that the president is in a good mood in the morning,” one former RNC official said.

Contacted by VICE News, Spicer disputed the nature of the folder. “While I won’t comment on materials we share with the president, this is not accurate on several levels,” he said in an email. Asked what about the story was inaccurate, Spicer did not respond.

news.vice.com

Full transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia

Aug 01, 2017 8:23AM

The Washington Post has obtained transcripts of two conversations President Trump had with foreign leaders: one with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and another with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released. The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. The reproductions below also include minor spelling and grammatical mistakes that appeared in the documents.

Peña Nieto was elected in 2012, leading the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party. A series of scandals has left the president with an approval rating lower than Trump’s.

The two leaders discussed the political optics of funding the border wall, and potential taxes and tariffs on Mexican goods. Here is a screenshot of the conversation.

Turnbull, a member of Australia’s conservative Liberal Party, took over as prime minister in 2015. During the phone call, Trump and Turnbull discuss an Obama-era agreement in which the United States will vet and take refugees who have been imprisoned after trying to enter Australia by boat.

The two-sentence readout of the conversation from the White House states both leaders “emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the U.S.-Australia relationship,” but the full transcript below shows a heated 24-minute conversation in which Trump vents about his accepting refugees a day after he signed an entry ban.

Turnbull, a member of Australia’s conservative Liberal Party, took over as prime minister in 2015. During the phone call, Trump and Turnbull discuss an Obama-era agreement in which the United States will vet and take refugees who have been imprisoned after trying to enter Australia by boat.

Turnbull, a member of Australia’s conservative Liberal Party, took over as prime minister in 2015. During the phone call, Trump and Turnbull discuss an Obama-era agreement in which the United States will vet and take refugees who have been imprisoned after trying to enter Australia by boat.

Trump dictated son’s misleading statement on meeting with Russian lawyer

Aug 01, 2017 8:23AM

On the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany last month, President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril.

The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.

But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.

Over the next three days, multiple accounts of the meeting were provided to the news media as public pressure mounted, with Trump Jr. ultimately acknowledging that he had accepted the meeting after receiving an email promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.

As special counsel Robert S. Mueller III looks into potential obstruction of justice as part of his broader investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, these advisers worry that the president’s direct involvement leaves him needlessly vulnerable to allegations of a coverup.

“This was . . . unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. “Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”

Trump has already come under criticism for steps he has taken to challenge and undercut the Russia investigation.

washingtonpost.com

Anthony Scaramucci removed as White House communications director

July 30, 2017 5:45PM

President Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci from his role as White House communications director just days after the New York financier was named to the job — a move made at the request of new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

Scaramucci's brief tenure in the role had been marked by turmoil as he feuded publicly with then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Scaramucci's arrival at the White House prompted press secretary Sean Spicer to resign in protest.

The abrupt decision signals that Kelly is moving quickly to assert control over the West Wing, which has been characterized by interpersonal disputes and power struggles during Trump's six months in office.

The retired Marine general, who was sworn in Monday morning, was brought into the White House in the hope that he will bring military-style discipline to Trump's staff. He has been fully empowered by the president to make significant changes to the organization, White House officials and outside advisers said.

The White House confirmed Scaramucci's departure in a statement on Monday afternoon.

“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”

washingtonpost.com

Spicer out, Sanders and Scaramucci rise in Trump shake-up

July 26, 2017 7:15PM

White House press secretary Sean Spicer abruptly resigned Friday over President Donald Trump’s decision to tap a camera-ready financier to lead the beleaguered White House communications team. The departing spokesman said the president “could benefit from a clean slate” as he seeks to steady operations amid the Russia investigations and ahead of a health care showdown.

Spicer, whose daily briefings once dominated cable television and delighted late-night comics, quit in protest over the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as the new White House communications director. Spicer denounced what he considered Scaramucci’s lack of qualifications, according to people familiar with the situation.

washingtonpost.com

Trump tweets he will ban transgender people from serving in the military

July 26, 2017 7:15PM

President Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity, an abrupt reversal of an Obama administration decision to allow them to serve openly and a potential end to the careers of thousands of active-duty troops.

The decision halts a years-long process of advancing rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the U.S. military that began with the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2010. And the nature of the announcement left Republicans and Democrats in Congress concerned about the seeming broad scope of Trump’s order.

Citing the need to focus on what he called “decisive and overwhelming victory,” Trump said that the military cannot accept the burden of higher medical costs and the “disruption” that transgender troops “would entail.”

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Citing the need to focus on what he called “decisive and overwhelming victory,” Trump said that the military cannot accept the burden of higher medical costs and the “disruption” that transgender troops “would entail.”

washingtonpost.com

Russia - Clinton - private and confidential

July 11, 2017 9:55PM

Treason. Espionage. Collusion. Criminal Conspiracy. Illegal solicitation of contribution from a foreign national. These are just some of the allegations being thrown around after Donald Trump Jr. released copies of emails detailing the planning of a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin on the promise of obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton.

In the emails, the publicist who brokered the meeting tells Trump Jr. the meeting was part of a larger Russian effort to help his father win the presidency. 

Donald Trump Jr. has tweeted an email chain he claims confirms the Russian government offered him information that would “incriminate Hillary” in an effort to help his father win the U.S. election.

An email — with the subject line “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential” — was sent to Trump Jr. in early June 2016 from Rob Goldstone, one of his father’s former Russian business associates. In it, Goldstone said one of his clients, a popstar known to the Trumps, had been contacted by a senior Russian government official who offered documents that “would be very useful to [Trump Jr.’s] father.”

“This is obviously very high-level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,”
“If it’s what you say, I love it especially later in the summer.”

Trump Jr. published the email chain on Twitter at the same time as the latest bombshell New York Times report on the meeting was published, which included contents of the emails.

In a statement accompanying the release, Trump Jr. said he had wanted to post the emails even before the:

"Russian fever was in vogue” and that he was “agitated” by the meeting, which he called “the most inane nonsense [he] ever heard.

Donald Trump Jr. may indeed have colluded with the Russians, but you cannot prosecute someone for “collusion” alone. The act of colluding could potentially touch on other criminal acts, like criminal conspiracy, but there is not a “collusion” criminal statute.

“From a statutory standpoint, collusion is a legal term of art only in the realm of antitrust,” Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey recently wrote inForeign Policy.
“Collusion is wrong, but I’m not sure it’s a crime,” Amy Jeffress, a former top Justice Department national security lawyer in the Obama administration, told NBC News. “I just don’t see an easy crime to prove here.”

While collusion itself may not be a crime, that finding would open a political wound that could lead to impeachment.

news.vice.com

Court Blocks E.P.A. Effort to Suspend Obama-Era Methane Rule

July 04, 2017 10:00AM

Dealing a legal blow to the Trump administration, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot suspend an Obama-era rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells.

The 2-to-1 decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a legal setback for Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, who is trying to roll back dozens of Obama-era environmental regulations. The ruling signals that the Trump administration’s efforts to simply delay environmental and public health actions are likely to face an uphill battle in the courts and require a more painstaking process.

The administration had suffered several reversals in federal court to its plans to limit immigration from a group of majority-Muslim nations until the Supreme Court allowed part of the policy to proceed late last month. A federal judge in California also blocked the administration’s threat to penalize cities that provide legal sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

nytimes.com

The GOP’s big setback on health care, courtesy of basic math

June 27, 2017 4:00PM

The Republican health-care effort isn’t done yet. But it did just suffer a major setback, and it’s very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point for one simple reason: math.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told senators early Tuesday afternoon that he won’t push forward with a planned vote this week, after half a dozen Republican senators signaled they would oppose even bringing the bill up for debate and amendments. As long as the Democrats vote as a bloc, only two Republicans can vote against it for it to pass.

In other words, McConnell’s job just became more difficult. That’s because there are all kinds of pressure points when it comes to getting members to vote against this bill, and those pressure points are not only numerous but often in conflict with one another.

Chief among them, of course, is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate that the bill would reduce the number of insured Americans by 22 million over the next decade or so. This proved to be a particularly troubling number for moderate Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
washingtonpost.com

Majority of Americans would give up alcohol to see Trump impeached

June 27, 2017 10:00AM

"73 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of Republicans say they would cut out the liquor if the official political process of removing the President were to be put in motion"

It is no secret giving up alcohol is trying. There is even a whole charity industry – Sober October and Dry January – which has sprung up in recent years to monopolise on people’s struggle to relinquish booze.

This makes it all the more significant and telling that increasing numbers of Americans are willing to give up drinking if it means President Donald Trump was to be impeached.

A new survey has found nearly 73 per cent of Democrats and 17 per cent of Republicans said they would cut out the liquor if the official political process of removing the President were to be put in motion.

On the other hand, more than 30 per cent of Republicans surveyed said they would abstain from alcohol in order to stop the media from penning negative, disparaging articles about President Trump.
independent.co.uk

Trump is destroying America's image around the world

June 27, 2017 8:20AM

It might seem like a subjective judgment to say that Donald Trump is wrecking America’s image. But a new Pew poll of 37 countries shows that this is measurable reality: Perceptions of the United States have collapsed since President Trump took office.

Pew asked people in countries ranging from Canada to Brazil to Russia whether they had favorable views of the US, and whether they had confidence in the US president to do the right thing in world affairs — questions they had also asked of people in these countries back when Barack Obama was president. The change between the Obama results and this year’s Trump results in Pew’s worldwide average are striking:

“For the first time in 35 years, maybe much longer, a majority of Canadians have an unfavourable view of the US,” Daniel Dale, the Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent, writes.

There are only two exceptions to this trend, where the US does better under Trump than it did under Obama: Russia and Israel. In Israel, confidence in the US president went up by 7 points under Trump; in Russia, it was a whopping 42.

Obama was widely unpopular in Israel, particularly after the Iran deal and high-profile fights over both Iran and the peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Likewise, Obama took a hard line on Russia by the end of his administration, imposing crippling sanctions after Moscow invaded Ukraine. Trump … well, you know what Trump thinks about Russia.

But aside from those two very specific cases, the overall pattern is clear: Donald Trump is tanking America’s image around the world.

vox.com

Comey blasts White House for ‘lies, plain and simple’

June 08, 2017 1:45 AM

Fired FBI Director James Comey on Thursday leveled a series of damaging accusations against the president of the United States, testifying that Donald Trump pressured him to close a probe into a top former aide, fired him in an attempt to change the course of the larger Russia probe, and then launched a campaign of “lies” to discredit him.

In bombshell testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that could reverberate in Washington for months, Comey refused to say whether he believed the president himself colluded with Russian officials to meddle in the 2016 election, offering to speak about it privately with lawmakers.

And he provided some statements that could help the White House, including that Trump himself was not under investigation as of May 9, when Comey was fired, and that Comey was never explicitly asked by Trump or his aides “to stop” the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But Comey also delivered damning statements. He said that he believed Trump gave him a “direction” in a private Oval Office meeting in February to “get rid of” the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and that Trump fired him because he wanted to change the course of the Russia probe.

“It's my judgment I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change -- or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation is being conducted. That is a very big deal.”

In testimony being closely watched by Trump, his allies and leaders across Washington, Comey provided in sometimes painstaking detail his personal interactions with Trump that preceded his abrupt ouster. Some of his harshest words came early in the hearing , as Comey suggested his surprise at his firing turned to anger as Trump and his aides offered a series of evolving explanations for the ouster.

“He had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and he hoped I would stay,” Comey said, relaying a series of conversations with the president. “He told me repeatedly he had talked to lots of people about me including our current attorney general and had learned I was doing a great job and was extremely well-liked by the FBI.”
"It confused me when I saw the president on TV saying he actually fired me because of the Russian investigation,” he said. “I was also confused by the initial explanation offered publicly that I was fired because of decisions I’d made during the election… That didn’t make any sense to me.”
“The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI, by saying the organization was poorly led. Those were lies, plain and simple.”

Comey said Mueller would likely resolve the question of obstruction in his probe.
politico.com

Russia probe reaches current White House

May 27, 2017 4:45 PM

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The revelation comes as the investigation appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. The president’s son-in-law initially omitted contacts with foreign leaders from a national security questionnaire, though his lawyer has said publicly he submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI soon after that he would provide an update.
washingtonpost.com

How Trump is rolling back Obama’s legacy

May 24, 2017 2:15 PM

Many of Donald Trump’s campaign promises involved repealing President Barack Obama-era rules and regulations. Here’s how the president is working with Congress and the executive branch to undo his predecessor’s legacy in seven key policy areas. Many of these are a work in progress.

The legislative window for Republicans to use the Congressional Review Act to abolish rules adopted by the previous administration ended on May 11. The 1996 law allows Congress to target recently issued federal regulations via a “joint resolution of disapproval,” which requires a majority vote and the president’s signature to nullify a rule and prohibit the federal government from issuing a “substantially similar” one in the future.

Before this year, Congress had only eliminated one rule--a regulation on ergonomics Bill Clinton enacted during his final year in office—in this way. In less than four months, Republicans have wiped away 14 rules covering everything from limits on the dumping of waste from surface-mining operations to expanding states’ power to offer retirement accounts to private-sector workers. Most of the overturned rules were related to labor and finance, and 17 more proposed resolutions about environmental rules did not get a vote.

As of May 18, here are the Obama-era rules and regulations impacted by 15 Executive actions, 22 Cabinet-level agency decisions, 14 Congressional Review Acts, and 1 New legislation passed by Congress, which could affect old laws. One is in the works.

washingtonpost.com

Former FBI head Robert Mueller to oversee Trump-Russia investigation

May 17, 2017 4:15 PM

The Department of Justice has appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged ties between the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Russian operatives. Mueller will also investigate Russian intervention in the election generally.

Mueller, 72, was appointed FBI director by President George W Bush and served 12 years, including for the majority of Barack Obama’s presidency. He said in a statement: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein made the decision to appoint Mueller. The Trump administration presented a letter in which Rosenstein found fault with the performance of former FBI director James Comey as a central factor in Comey’s firing last week.

In an order announcing Mueller’s appointment, Rosenstein explained he had taken the decision “to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” including “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”

“My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted,” Rosenstein wrote in a separate letter. “I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

In a statement released after Mueller’s appointment was announced, Donald Trump said: “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

The White House was not aware of Rosenstein’s decision to appoint Mueller until after the order was signed, according to a justice department official. The news had not appeared to have been shared on Capitol Hill either, with the House intelligence committee saying it had not been informed.
theguardian.com

G.O.P. Senators Pull Away From Trump, Alarmed at His Volatility

May 15, 2017 5:15 PM

Senate Republicans, increasingly unnerved by President Trump’s volatility and unpopularity, are starting to show signs of breaking away from him as they try to forge a more traditional Republican agenda and protect their political fortunes.

Several Republicans have openly questioned Mr. Trump’s decision to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and even lawmakers who supported the move have complained privately that it was poorly timed and disruptive to their work. Many were dismayed when Mr. Trump seemed to then warn Mr. Comey not to leak negative information about him.

“I’m hearing more and more of them say privately that they are more and more concerned,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. “More importantly, there is a lot less fear of him than there was just a month ago.”

As they pursue their own agenda, Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input, seeking to avoid the public relations pitfalls that befell the House as it passed its own deeply unpopular version. Republicans are also pushing back on the president’s impending budget request — including, notably, a provision that would nearly eliminate funding for the national drug control office amid an opioid epidemic. And many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Mr. Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

So far, Republicans have refrained from bucking the president en masse, in part to avoid undermining their intense push to put health care and tax bills on his desk this year. And the Republican leadership, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, remains behind Mr. Trump.

Two Republican senators who face potentially tough re-election fights next year — Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona — have been unabashed in their criticism of Mr. Trump and his administration, which they have clearly begun to view as a drag on their political prospects.
nytimes.com

Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russians

May 15, 2017 4:45 PM

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

trump with russians

The revelation comes as the president faces rising legal and political pressure on multiple Russia-related fronts. Last week, he fired FBI Director James B. Comey in the midst of a bureau investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Trump’s subsequent admission that his decision was driven by “this Russia thing” was seen by critics as attempted obstruction of justice.

One day after dismissing Comey, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a key figure in earlier Russia controversies — into the Oval Office. It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft. For almost anyone in government, discussing such matters with an adversary would be illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.
washingtonpost.com

Acting FBI director contradicts Trump White House on Comey, Russia probe

May 11, 2017 7:45 PM

Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe on Thursday rejected the Trump White House’s characterization of the Russian meddling probe as a low priority and delivered a passionate defense of former director James B. Comey — putting himself squarely at odds with the president while the bureau’s future hangs in the balance.

McCabe, who had been the No. 2 official in the FBI until President Trump fired Comey this week, said that the bureau considered the probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump team during the 2016 election campaign a “highly significant investigation” and that it would not be derailed because of a change in leadership.

“You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” McCabe said.

McCabe’s assertion, which came during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, directly contradicted a White House spokeswoman’s description of the Russian case as “probably one of the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate.”

McCabe also promised that if the White House tried to interfere in the bureau’s work, he would alert the committee, and he said he would not offer any status updates about the matter to the president or those who work for him. McCabe said there had “been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

The hearing was supposed to have been one at which Comey appeared with other top U.S. intelligence officials to discuss threats to the United States across the globe. But after Comey was fired Tuesday and McCabe was chosen to fill his seat, the discussion of threats turned largely to Russia and the integrity of the FBI.

McCabe is not even certain to remain as the FBI’s acting director. He was elevated to the post essentially by default, and on Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein interviewed four candidates to find someone potentially to take over in the short term. It is also possible that McCabe could stay on.

Ultimately, Trump will have to nominate a permanent replacement, and that person will have to undergo the Senate confirmation process. McCabe did not seem concerned with winning Trump’s favor. Asked by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) whether he would “refrain” from providing “updates to the president or anyone else in the White House on the status of the” Russia probe, McCabe said unequivocally, “I will.”
washingtonpost.com

In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey abstained.

May 11, 2017 7:45 PM

Only seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, James B. Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.

The conversation that night in January, Mr. Comey now believes, was a harbinger of his downfall this week as head of the F.B.I., according to two people who have heard his account of the dinner.

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

The White House says this account is not correct. And Mr. Trump, in an interview on Thursday with NBC, described a far different dinner conversation with Mr. Comey in which the director asked to have the meeting and the question of loyalty never came up. It was not clear whether he was talking about the same meal, but they are believed to have had only one dinner together.
nytimes.com

Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI's Russia investigation

May 09, 2017 5:35 PM

Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year's election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI's broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

Robert Kelner, an attorney for Flynn, declined to comment. The US Attorney's Office in Alexandria, the Justice Department and the FBI also declined to comment.
cnn.com

Trump abruptly fires FBI Director James Comey

May 09, 2017 3:05 PM

President Donald Trump on Tuesday abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, raising fresh doubts about the integrity of the FBI's ongoing probe into contacts between Trump’s aides and Russian officials before and after last year's presidential election.

In a letter to Comey, Trump emphasized the need for new stewardship of the FBI while insisting he was not the target of any investigation.

"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau," Trump said in a letter to the director. "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission," said Donald Trump.

The extraordinary dismissal of the FBI director by a president whose own campaign is the focus of a pending FBI inquiry unleashed a torrent of criticism that Trump was interfering with the independence of law enforcement.

"Today’s action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis," said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. "There is little doubt that the president’s actions harken our nation back to Watergate."

"I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination," Burr said, warning that the move "further confuses" his panel's ongoing probe into Russia's role in the 2016 election. "His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation," Burr added.
politico.com

Yates says Flynn was susceptible to blackmail

May 09, 2017 7:35 AM

Yates for the first time publicly detailed her efforts to alert the White House that Flynn was potentially susceptible to Russian blackmail.She told senators she held a meeting Jan. 26 with White House counsel Don McGahn in which she laid out the evidence that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials about the nature of his phone calls with Russia’s ambassador.

“To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians,”

 Yates said, explaining that the Russians knew Flynn had misled Pence and could potentially use this to blackmail him.

“We're trying on put a puzzle together here, everybody,” Franken told the room. “And maybe, just maybe, he didn't get rid of a guy who lied to the vice president, who got paid by the Russians, who went on Russia Today, because there are other people in his administration who met secretly with the Russians and didn't reveal it til later, until they were caught. That may be why it took him 18 days, until it became public, to get rid of Mike Flynn, who was a danger to this republic.”

Flynn was not fired until Feb. 13, after it had become public that he misled Pence. Democrats point to the 18-day gap between Yates' warnings and Flynn's firing as evidence the White House did not take the concerns seriously.
politico.com

Obamacare is more popular than Trump, Says Barrack Obama

May 01, 2017 10:35 AM

Former President Barack Obama hailed the political resilience of his signature health care law at a private event Thursday, pointing out that Obamacare is now more popular than his successor trying to repeal it: President Donald Trump.

As Republicans in Washington sputtered again this week in their efforts to undo the law, Obama noted to an audience in midtown Manhattan that "the Affordable Care Act has never been more popular -- and it's more popular than the current president," according to a person in the room who paraphrased the comments.

Obama also predicted Thursday that it will be challenging for Trump and fellow Republicans to make any sweeping changes to a law that now provides health insurance for so many people, as he remarked how difficult it was for him to get Obamacare enacted into law in 2009.

While many Republicans have publicly said they don't like the health care law, Obama said according to the person in the room, they are now confronting the fact that many of their most vulnerable constituents have benefited from it.

cnn.com

Trump admits He wasn’t ready to be President. He never will be either.

Apr 28, 2017 7:35 AM

Donald Trump spent a great portion of 2016 insisting that being president would be easy — at least for him. HuffPost compiled a number of examples of him dismissing the problems that accompany the job as being easily dispatched. Building a wall on the border with Mexico is easy. Beating Hillary Clinton would be easy. Renegotiating the Iran deal would be easy. Paying down the national debt would be easy. Acting presidential? Easy.

To a reporter from Reuters this week, though, Trump had a slightly different assessment of the presidency.

“I love my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a … I’m a details-oriented person. I think you’d say that, but I do miss my old life. I like to work so that’s not a problem but this is actually more work.”

It wasn’t the first time that Trump copped to the job being trickier than he anticipated. He also revealed that it took a conversation with the president of China to realize that the situation on the Korean peninsula was “...not so easy.”

“This is really a bigger job than I thought.”
“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy”

There’s an element of surprise in Trump’s comments, a hint of bafflement that having responsibility for the welfare of 320 million people entwined in a global economy and international relationships might end up being trickier than running a real estate and branding shop from midtown Manhattan. One group that probably wasn’t surprised that Trump wasn’t prepared? The majority of Americans. Put simply: The majority of Americans didn’t think Trump was ready to be president of the United States.
washingtonpost.com

Dangerous mental illness', say psychiatry experts at Yale conference

Apr 21, 2017 6:35 AM

Donald Trump has a “dangerous mental illness” and is not fit to lead the US, a group of psychiatrists has warned during a conference at Yale University.

Mental health experts claimed the President was “paranoid and delusional”, and said it was their “ethical responsibility” to warn the American public about the “dangers” Mr Trump’s psychological state poses to the country.

Speaking at the conference at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday, one of the mental health professionals, Dr John Gartner, a practising psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School until 2015, said: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump's dangerous mental illness.”

Dr Gartner, who is also a founding member of Duty to Warn, an organisation of several dozen mental health professionals who think Mr Trump is mentally unfit to be president, said the President's statement about having the largest crowd at an inauguration was just one of many that served as warnings of a larger problem.

“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was President. If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional,” he added.

Chairing the event, Dr Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, said: 

“As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.”

James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, told the conference he had worked some of the “most dangerous people in society”, including murderers and rapists — but that he was convinced by the “dangerousness” of Mr Trump. “I’ve worked with some of the most dangerous people our society produces, directing mental health programes in prisons,” he said.

“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognize dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.”

A spokesperson for Yale University told The Independent the panel at the conference abided by the Goldwater rule during the discussions, but that the organiser was "troubled" by the "silencing of debate".
independent.co.uk

Donald Trump's travel expenses in 10 weeks cost US taxpayers as much as Barack Obama spent in two years

Apr 6, 2017 11:35 AM

Donald Trump’s trips to his luxury Florida resort have already cost the US taxpayer at least $24 million, roughly as much as Barack Obama spent on travel in the first two years of his presidency. Trump has spent seven weekends at Mar-a-Lago since taking office ten weeks ago. It is estimated that each of these trips costs at least $3 million (£2.4 million), covering the President’s extensive security detail.

The cost of travel and security for the entire Trump family is likely to be much higher, as the First Lady Melania and Mr Trump’s youngest son, Barron, are remaining in New York until at least September. In total, Mr Obama's travel bill over the eight years of his presidency came to $97 million, an average of $12.1 million a year.

The New York Police Department has confirmed that it costs between $127,000 and $146,000 a day “to protect the First Lady and her son while they reside in Trump Tower." After he hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, Donald Trump will have averaged $2.4 million tax dollars a week on his Florida trips. If he keeps going at this pace, he will have outspent Obama’s $97 million figure, in just ten months.

independent.co.uk

Nunes steps aside from Russia probe

Apr 6, 2017 9:35 AM

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will temporarily step aside from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including interactions between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

The move comes as the House Ethics Committee announced that it is investigating allegations that Nunes may have mishandled classified information. With the Ethics Committee now formally involved in the dispute, Nunes could no longer oversee the Russia probe, although he will remain in place as chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

The Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation will be taken over by Reps. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.). In a statement, Nunes blamed complaints filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics over his decision to brief President Donald Trump on intelligence intercepts of conversations between Trump campaign aide and Russian officials during the election.

Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the ranking member on Ethics, said Nunes is under scrutiny by their panel.

"The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Devin Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct," Brooks and Deutch said in joint statement. "The Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), is investigating and gathering more information regarding these allegations."

politico.com

Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

Apr 3, 2017 6:52 PM

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.

Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump. The FBI declined to comment.

washingtonpost.com

Trump's EPA Just Greenlighted a Pesticide Known to Damage Kids' Brains

Mar 30, 2017 10:52 AM

EPA director Scott Pruitt signed an order denying the agency's own proposal to ban chlorpyrifos, according to a Wednesday afternoon press release.

"We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” Pruitt said in a written statement. “By reversing the previous Administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.” ~Scott Pruitt

The pesticide in question, chlorpyrifos, is a nasty piece of work. It's an organophosphate, a class of bug killers that work by "interrupting the electrochemical processes that nerves use to communicate with muscles and other nerves," as the Pesticide Encyclopedia puts it. Chlorpyrifos is also an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can cause "adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects," according to the National Institutes of Health.

Major studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis, and Columbia University have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids' brain development, including when exposure occurs in the womb, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. Several studies—examples herehere, and here—have found it in the urine of kids who live near treated fields. In 2000, the EPA banned most home uses of the chemical, citing risks to children.

motherjones.com

Trump signs order to unwind Obama’s climate actions

Mar 29, 2017 3:52 PM

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that represents his biggest effort yet to erase former President Barack Obama’s legacy on climate change.

The order directs EPA to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan, the landmark 2015 rule requiring existing power plants to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

Also on the chopping block are a year-old coal leasing moratorium, regulations on methane emissions and fracking, White House guidance on incorporating climate change into federal projects and the “social cost of carbon,” a dollar amount of damage estimated for carbon dioxide emissions.

"My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. We’re going to have clean coal. Together we will create millions of good American jobs, also so many energy jobs, and really lead to unbelievable prosperity.” 

Democrats argue that Trump is ignoring the risks of climate change for the sake of rewarding supporters in the fossil fuel industry."Thanks to this executive order, our future is looking darker, it's looking dirtier and it's looking less prosperous," Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) told a press conference. "Today Donald Trump is shirking our nation's responsibilities, disregarding clear science and undoing the significant progress that we've made to ensure we leave a better, more sustainable planet for generations to come."
politico.com

How Paul Ryan played Donald Trump

Mar 24, 2017 8:52 AM

Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of president. He was a populist fighting on behalf of the “forgotten man,” taking on the GOP establishment, draining the Washington swamp, protecting Medicaid from cuts, vowing to cover everyone with health care and make the government pay for it. He was a pragmatic businessman who was going to make Washington work for you, the little guy, not the ideologues and special interests.

Instead, Trump has become a pitchman for Paul Ryan and his agenda. He’s spent the past week fighting for a health care bill he didn’t campaign on, didn’t draft, doesn’t understanddoesn’t like to talk about, and can’t defend. Rather than forcing the Republican establishment to come around to his principles, he’s come around to theirs — and with disastrous results.

Democrats don’t like this bill. Independents don’t like this bill. Conservatives don’t like this bill. Moderates don’t like this bill. All the energy behind the American Health Care Act is coming from inside the GOP congressional establishment — and now from Trump himself. In a sense, this Matt Drudge tweet says it all.

Sixty days into his presidency, Trump has lashed himself to a Paul Ryan passion project that’s polling at 56-17 percent against. As political scientist Ryan Enos drolly observed, “in a hyper-partisan political climate, it's actually an accomplishment to write legislation this unpopular.” Nor is Trump emerging unscathed: Polls show his approval rating falling into the 30s — and that’s before he’s taken away health insurance from a single person.

The AHCA breaks Trump’s promises to his base so fulsomely, so completely, that when told by Tucker Carlson on Fox News “that counties that voted for you, middle-class and working-class counties, would do far less well under the bill,” Trump was reduced to saying, simply: “Oh, I know.”

Donald Trump has become Paul Ryan with orange hair. How did it happen?

How Trumpism used to sound

In September, Donald Trump sat down with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes and told the world he was a different kind of Republican.

"Everybody’s got to be covered," he said, referring to his health care plan. "This is an un-Republican thing for me to say, because a lot of times they say, 'No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.' But I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not."

"Who pays for it?" asked Pelley.

"The government’s gonna pay for it," Trump said, and he went on to promise that people on Trumpcare "can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything."

This was the Donald Trump who unexpectedly won the Republican primary and then beat the odds to become president. He was a Republican, yes, but a different kind of Republican — a Republican who owed Ryan nothing, who wasn’t friends with the Bush clan, who liked construction workers more than he liked Wall Street executives, who wanted the government to give people health care.

I don’t mean to whitewash Trump. His populism often edged into xenophobia and bigotry. But it seemed real enough — even as his campaign policy team churned out standard-issue Republican fare, everything he did and said suggested he had very unusual instincts on some issues, particularly health care. Here was a guy who had praised single-payer in the past and promised to protect Medicare and Medicaid from cuts. Whatever Trumpism was, it sure as hell wasn’t Ryanism.

And then it became Ryanism.

This is what happens when you don’t sweat, or even understand, the details

How did Ryan persuade Trump to adopt his bill? The truth is, it doesn’t appear to have been very hard.

On Wednesday, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza published a series of messages from a House Freedom Caucus source laying out the state of play on the American Health Care Act. “Don’t source to me,” the person wrote, “but R’s astonished how in over his head Trump is. He seems to neither get the politics nor the policy of this.”

Recently, I read every public statement Trump made on health care since the unveiling of the AHCA. It was striking how obviously thin Trump’s knowledge of the issue was. His standard riff veered from complaints about Obamacare to complaints about how Democrats wouldn’t work with him to vague promises about how great everything would be after the House plan passed. To this day, Trump has never made a substantive case for why this bill would make people’s lives better.

Politico reports that Trump doesn’t even like talking about health care — and his staffers have started, amazingly, to see that as a good thing:

Several people with knowledge of the discussions said having Trump on the golf course wasn’t a bad thing for his team, who could wade more into the nitty-gritty and have “real talk” with the conservatives. They fear that when he meets with legislators or interest groups that he’ll promise them too much — or change the terms under discussion altogether. “It’s easier to negotiate sometimes without Trump,” one adviser said.

This is the problem with not knowing or caring much about the details of policy — it’s easy to get spun by people who do know and care, and it’s easy to get trapped in processes that people are building for their benefit rather than yours. And that seems to be what happened to Trump. For instance, the New York Times reports that Trump barely paid attention when he agreed to put health reform first:

He approved the agenda putting health care first late last year, almost in passing, in meetings with Mr. Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff.

Pence and Priebus persuaded Trump to make Rep. Tom Price his health and human services secretary. Pence, Priebus, and Price are all Ryanists, not Trumpists, and so when Ryan emerged with a health care plan that reflected their views, they told Trump it was a great deal and he should work for its passage.

It’s an interesting question why the plan Ryan concocted is such a shoddy piece of work, and why Ryan didn’t spend more time building stakeholder support or mapping out a sensible process. But it’s not particularly surprising that once Ryan had a plan, Trump was persuaded to sign off on it — the people to whom he’s outsourced these decisions share Ryan’s instincts and ideology, not Trump’s, and Trump isn’t knowledgeable enough or interested enough to question their judgments.

How Trump became the fall guy for Ryan’s bill

Ryan’s stroke of genius, however, has been flattering Trump’s vision of himself as a dealmaker through the process, and amping up Trump’s sense of the personal stake he has in the AHCA’s success.

On Monday, Politico reported that “members of Speaker Paul Ryan’s team, trying to appeal to Trump’s ego and deal-making sensibilities, have begun calling him the ‘closer’ or the ‘ultimate closer.’”

In an interview, Ryan amped up both the flattery and the pressure. “I’ve never seen, since I’ve been in Congress — and this is the fourth president I’ve served with — I’ve never seen a president as deep and involved and engaged on passing the signature legislation as this one,” he said.

And that’s how a bill that Trump didn’t campaign on and didn’t write and doesn’t understand become his “signature legislation,” and that’s how its possible failure could be recast as proof that Trump isn’t the closer he promised to be, even when he’s maximally involved in the effort.

I am not suggesting Ryan is some kind of political genius. The problems here lie with Trump. He is strongly committed to his personal project of being the president, being seen as a great dealmaker, and appearing on television, but he is weakly committed to his ideological project and obviously uninterested in the details of legislation.

Even in the best of scenarios, and with the most able of leaders, changing the ideology of a political party is a difficult effort. But Trump didn’t even try, and now he has burnt much of the political capital he had on Paul Ryan’s health care plan — there is no one, after this, who thinks his salesmanship unstoppable or his commitment to his own agenda unshakable, and that weakens his ability to push the Republican Party to places it doesn’t already want to go.

We are 60 days into Trump’s presidency, and Trumpism is already being strangled by Ryanism. As Drudge wrote, sometimes the swamp drains you.

vox.com

Comey confirms FBI probe into Trump-Russia collusion

Mar 20, 2017 9:01 AM

FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the FBI is investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

He also shot down President Donald Trump's explosive claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the run-up to the election.

Comey told the House Intelligence Committee at a hearing that the bureau normally does not comment on the existence of counterintelligence investigations, but that he was authorized by the Justice Department to do so in this case because of the extraordinary public interest.

“This will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed,” Comey told the intelligence panel, explaining that the investigation began in late July. He said he could not give a timeline or comment further on the matter but pledged to "follow the facts wherever they lead."

Comey also said he had "no information" to support Trump's claim, made on Twitter, about Trump Tower being wiretapped by his predecessor. “I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey said. He added that the Justice Department had also looked for evidence to support the president’s allegation and could not find any.
politico.com

Judge doesn't extend order on new travel ban

Mar 16, 2017 7:24 AM

A federal judge in Seattle has ruled that his order blocking President Donald Trump's original travel ban does not apply to the revised executive order.

Judge James Robart entered his ruling Thursday, one day after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked Trump's new executive order that would've suspended new visas for people from six predominantly Muslim countries and halted the U.S. refugee program.

Robart said his order last month blocking the original ban should not apply to the new one because there were enough differences between the two.

Robart noted that Washington and several other states have also asked him to block the revised ban. He said he would rule on that request later.
politico.com

Trump expected to sign new executive order on travel ban on Monday

Mar 3, 2017 8:21 AM

The administration's first executive order was frozen by judges and has proven one of the biggest embarrassments for a nascent administration. President Donald Trump is expected to sign on Monday a new executive order on his controversial travel ban at the Department of Homeland Security, according to senior government officials familiar with the matter.

It is unclear how significant the changes to the current order will be or whether the White House will continue a court fight over its old order. The original order restrained immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, temporarily halted the entry of refugees and indefinitely shut down the entrance of refugees from Syria.

Employees at DHS were instructed to work from home on Monday morning, according to an internal agency email sent late Friday.

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was heading on Saturday to Mar-a-Lago "for an EO launch meeting" with a team from the Department of Justice. They will meet with DHS officials and the president, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The administration's first executive order was frozen by judges and has proven one of the biggest embarrassments for a nascent administration. It caused widespread chaos at airports, as enforcement agents, lawmakers and some of Trump's top aides were not briefed on the order.

The new order has been rumored for several weeks but was postponed from Wednesday after the president's widely-praised speech to Congress. Trump's team is said to have wanted to keep the momentum going from the address.But after a series of aggressive tweets from the president Saturday morning, in which he accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phone at Trump Tower before the election, the executive order could prove welcome for his supporters.

But after a series of aggressive tweets from the president Saturday morning, in which he accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phone at Trump Tower before the election, the executive order could prove welcome for his supporters.
politico.com

Jeff Sessions lied under oath before the Senate

Mar 1, 2017 2:00 PM

Last month, during Mr. Sessions’s confirmation hearing for attorney general, Senator Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota, asked Mr. Sessions what he would do if he learned of evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Mr. Sessions answered, adding, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Mr. Sessions also, on his written Senate confirmation questionnaire, denied having had any communications about the 2016 election with the Russians.

Senator Patrick Leahy followed up with a written question asking Sessions if had "been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?" Sessions replied, simply: "No."

We now know that Mr. Sessions had at least two conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States in July and September 2016 while Mr. Sessions was an adviser to the Trump campaign. Even if Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't commit perjury during his confirmation hearing, Sessions could still be in other kinds of legal trouble for failing to tell his Senate colleagues that he met the Russian ambassador on two occasions during the heat of the presidential campaign.

"It is, at best, very misleading testimony," said Richard Painter, formerly the top ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush's White House. "I don't go so far as to say that it's perjury, but there is a lesser charge of failing to provide accurate information to Congress."

"A nominee at a confirmation hearing has an obligation to provide full and complete information to Congress," Painter continued. "Conduct that might be just short of perjury in a deposition in a typical civil case is entirely inappropriate in front of Congress."

However, such misdemeanor charges are usually only rolled out as part of a plea deal after prosecutors obtain or threaten more serious felony perjury charges. Some lawyers say those would be a stretch in Sessions' case.

"Perjury is very hard to prove," said former House Counsel Stan Brand, who worked for the Democrats. "You have to prove two elements that are very difficult in the Congressional context: one is intent and two is an absolutely clear and unambiguous question."

During a press conference at the Justice Department Thursday, the attorney general insisted he had no intention to deceive the committee.

"My reply to the question of Sen. Franken was honest and correct as I understood it at the time. I appreciate that some have taken the view that this was a false comment. That is not my intent. That is not correct," the attorney general declared.

However, later in the exchange with reporters, Sessions said he could not rule out the possibility that he discussed election-related matters during his September meeting with the Russian diplomat, Sergey Kislyak.

"I don't recall, but most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy, and....this was in the campaign season, but I don't recall any specific political discussions," the attorney general said.

President Trump has already fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russians. Misleading the United States Senate in testimony under oath is at the very least as serious. We do not yet know all the facts, but we know enough to see that Attorney General Sessions has to go.
politico.com

Trump transition donors linked to his Cabinet

Feb 23, 2017 5:49 PM

President Donald Trump's transition efforts raised more than $6.5 million, according to government filings, with the vast majority of the donations coming after the election -- including thousands of dollars from people linked to his future Cabinet.

According to filings with the General Services Administration obtained by CNN through the Freedom of Information Act, Trump's transition fundraising vehicle, Trump for America Inc., raised $6,513,947.93 through February 14

Donors included individuals, corporations and advocacy groups. Each entity is by law allowed to donate up to $5,000 maximum to transition efforts, which are financed in part by private fundraising and in part by federal funds. Trump Cabinet nominees or their families were consistent donors.

His earliest supporter of the Cabinet was Linda McMahon, who is now confirmed as chief of the Small Business Administration. She gave the maximum donation on July 14, before Trump was even formally named the nominee by the Republican National Convention. McMahon was nominated in December.

Wilbur Ross, expected to be confirmed as commerce secretary, maxed out on October 31. He was formally announced on November 30. Other nominees waited until after the election.

The DeVos family gave 10 individual $5,000 donations on December 14. Betsy DeVos, now the secretary of education, was announced as the nominee on November 23. Let's not forget Betsy DeVos comment on buying influence:

❝I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return...We expect a return on our investment, we expect the Republican party to use the money to promote these policies, and yes, to win elections.❞

Alan Mnuchin, the brother of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, gave $5,000 on December 9, though Steven Mnuchin did not donate. Exxon Mobil Corporation, the company that was helmed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before he was confirmed, gave $5,000 December 28 -- though Tillerson himself did not donate to the transition. Tillerson was named December 13 and Mnuchin was named November 30.

Former Labor nominee Andrew Puzder, a fast food executive, gave $5,000 on November 30. He withdrew from consideration this month after a series of controversial headlines and opposition from GOP senators. He was nominated on December 8.

There is no indication that Trump or his decision-making inner circle would have known about the donations. Asked if DeVos had any concerns about the appropriateness of donating, her personal spokesman Greg McNeilly said "no concerns whatsoever." The Department of Education did not immediately respond.

Most cash came in post-election

Only $1.05 million of that came in by Election Day, according to the records, meaning $5.5 million came after Trump became president. The filings show Hillary Clinton actually outraised Trump before the election by $1 million.

More than $663,000 of the $1.05 million came before October 7, the day the hot mic tape of Trump bragging about sexually aggressive behavior toward women was released. The transition received no donations between October 6 and October 11, when they resumed.

While donations came in before the election, they ramped up right after. For example, Financial Services Roundtable, a business friendly advocacy group for the financial services industry, donated $5,000 the day after the election. In the days that followed, American Coalition Clean Coal Electricity, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributers and Independent Community Bankers of America (along with its PAC) all donated max amounts.

Major Trump donors trickled in before and after the election. Carl Icahn, a friend and adviser of Trump's donated his $5,000 on November 7, the day before the election. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Republican financiers, donated on January 9, along with daughter Shelley. The Mercer family, a big backer of Trump's, donated meanwhile on September 27. The transition effort brought in more than it spent. Trump's transition spent $4.6 million, according to the filings: roughly $1 million on payroll and taxes, almost $2 million on travel and relocation and almost $1 million on legal and consulting services.

Before losing the election, the Clinton transition raised $2.1 million. It spent $1.4 million.
cnn.com

Trump says: Press is the enemy of the American people

Feb 17, 2017 8:43 PM

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that the media aren’t an enemy of the White House but an adversary of the American people.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
politico.com

Donald Trump did not have the most electoral college votes since Reagan

Feb 16, 2017 3:01 PM

"I guess it’s the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan," said Donald Trump.

Mr Reagan won two terms; he gained 525 electoral college votes in 1984 and 489 the previous election. It was the largest landslide in recent political history, but Mr Trump's 2016 victory did not even come close. 

Former President Barack Obama won 332 votes in 2012 and 365 in 2009. Mitt Romney’s won 306 electoral college votes in 2016. Bill Clinton gained 379 electoral college votes in 1996, and George H W Bush gathered an incredible 426 votes in 1988.
independent.co.uk

Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser

Feb 13, 2017 12:07 PM

The White House said in the statement that it was replacing Mr. Flynn with retired Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. of the Army, a Vietnam War veteran, as acting national security adviser. In the midst of scandal over his communications with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions during the transition period, and his efforts to mislead officials about the call. Keith Kellogg will serve as interim National Security Adviser.

Retired general David Petraeus, seen as a possible Flynn replacement, is coming to town for a meeting at the White House. Vice President Mike Pence will lunch with legislators on Capitol Hill. Neil Gorsuch will meet with Sens.
politico.com

Punish Kellyanne Conway. Do It Now.

February 09, 2017 5:07 PM

She broke the law on live TV.

The White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s public endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s product line appears to be “a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position,” and she should be disciplined, the federal government’s chief ethics watchdog wrote this week in a letter to the White House.

Although President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said last week that Ms. Conway had been “counseled” about her statement, the White House has not clarified what that means. Experts in government ethics say that typically, offenses like Ms. Conway’s would result in a letter of reprimand, though it could be grounds for termination. It is up to the head of each agency — in this case, the president — to determine the punishment.

More than 150 House members urge Trump dump Bannon appointment

NOVEMBER 16, 2016 4:00 PM

"Dear President-elect Trump, 

Immediately following your victory, many Americans were optimistic and hopeful that you would take the steps necessary to unify our country following the divisive and contentious election. In your election night speech you said, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. It is time for us to come together as one united people.” Unfortunately, your appointment of Stephen Bannon, whose ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well-documented, directly undermines your ability to unite the country. As elected representatives of millions of Americans from diverse backgrounds, and ethnicities, we strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to appoint Mr. Bannon to White House Chief Strategist.

Since the election there have been a number of incidents across the country in which minorities, including Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jewish Americans, have been targets of violence, harassment and intimidation. Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration. Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns. 

As the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon repeatedly and aggressively pushed stories that promote anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism. During an interview last summer, Mr. Bannon bragged that Breitbart was “the platform for the alt-right,” a movement that upholds White Nationalism while strongly rejecting diversity in any form. Under Mr. Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has referred to a leading Republican who opposed your election as a “Renegade Jew,” suggested “Young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb,” declared the “Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage,” and praised the alt-right as a “smarter” version of “old-school racist skinheads.” 

Disturbingly, leading white nationalists like former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke, American Nazi Party Chair Rocky J. Suhayda, Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow, and Brad Gririn have praised the news of Mr. Bannon’s appointment. We believe it should concern you that civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are widely opposed to Mr. Bannon’s appointment. 

We strongly believe that Mr. Bannon’s appointment will not allow the country to heal and come together as one. As one of your top advisers, the White House chief strategist will help set the tone for your Administration. The person in this role must be prepared to serve the interests of all Americans, not those of a selected few.

Once again, we strongly urge you to rescind the appointment immediately and build a diverse White House staff who are committed to the core American values of inclusiveness, diversity and tolerance. 
Signed By 169 US House of Representatives. 
https://goo.gl/CtVMpy