Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also resigned from a planning committee in protest. Caucus members said they will also boycott the rest of a weeklong series of events marking the 400th anniversary and have instead planned alternative commemorations Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia’s capital. Trump’s comments about Cummings were the latest rhetorical shot at a lawmaker of color to spark outrage. Earlier this month, Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his call for four Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now.” Caucus chair Del. Lamont Bagby said in an interview the group unanimously reached the boycott decision more than a week ago. But he said the president has “continued his attacks” since then and his remarks about Cummings’ district were more of the same. Virginia’s black state lawmakers announced Monday they will boycott a ceremony this week commemorating the beginnings of American democracy because President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend. Trump will join national and state leaders and dignitaries at Tuesday’s event, a commemorative session of the Virginia General Assembly at which Trump is to deliver remarks. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Monday that the caucus was pushing “a political agenda.” “The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric,” the caucus said in a statement. The convening of a legislative assembly in 1619 formed the basis of today’s representative system of government in the United States. The Virginia General Assembly is considered the oldest continuously operating legislative body in North America. The caucus’ statement did not specifically mention Cummings but said Trump’s “repeated attacks on Black legislators and comments about Black communities makes him ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history.” When the Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported earlier in the month that Trump would take part in the event, top Democratic lawmakers said they would not attend. Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said at the time that their decision was “disappointing and embarrassing.” The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said its members would not attend Tuesday’s event in historic Jamestown marking the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere. The boycott comes after Trump’s weekend comments referring to Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black Baltimore-area district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Tuesday’s events are just one part of a yearlong commemoration called American Evolution meant to honor key milestones in the state’s colonial history, including the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded Africans in English North America. “President Trump passed criminal justice reform, developed opportunity zones securing record-setting investment in distressed communities, and pushed policies that created the lowest unemployment rates ever for African Americans, so it’s a bit confusing and unfortunate that the VLBC would choose to push a political agenda instead of celebrate this milestone for our nation,” she said in a statement.
In January, Coats again was reportedly in Trump’s dog house when he told a Senate committee that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, which contradicted the president’s more optimistic view. At last year’s Aspen Security Forum, Coats reportedly angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president’s ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer slammed on Sunday President Donald Trump’s choice of Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, The Hill reported. “It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller ” Schumer said in a statement. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the successor for Coats “must put patriotism before politics, and remember that his oath is to protect the Constitution and the American people, not the President.” Trump had reportedly soured on Coats several times during his tenure. Axios reported that Trump was impressed by Ratcliffe’s performance during his questioning of Mueller at congressional hearings on Wednesday. Sen Eliabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, added in a tweet that “Our Director of National Intelligence should be above partisan politics, speak truth to power, and resist Trump’s abuses of authority. John Ratcliffe doesn’t fit that bill.” It is not yet clear how the Senate overall will react to Ratcliffe’s nomination, according to The Hill. However, his membership in the House Intelligence Committee will likely appeal to Republican senators.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., faces a challenge for re-election from a 30-year-old Massachusetts mayor campaigning on the House Ways and Means Committee chairman’s inaction on obtaining President Donald Trump’s tax returns, NBC News reported. “So, when you look at the timing here, we’re now very unlikely to see any result before the 2020 election, because Congressman Neal dragged his feet. We also have people in New York that have worked tirelessly to give the American people access to his New York state tax returns.” “I think his action is emblematic of a kind of leader, or lack thereof, that’s he’s been over the last 30 years,” Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse told NBC News about Neal’s authority to obtain President Trump’s state returns. Rep. Neal has held off using the New York state law to obtain his state tax returns because it might jeopardize the ability to obtain federal returns, according to the report. President Trump filed a federal lawsuit this week to block Rep. Neal from using the state law to obtain the federal return. “I know people here in western Massachusetts, and people around the country, are frustrated with the way in which he’s handled this issue from day one. I mean, Democrats took back the House, and it took [months] to put a letter together. I know it doesn’t take us that long to put letters together at City Hall when we have to look at legal issues. “It’s unfortunate that there are folks who aren’t living what he’s living, making statements and comments and Monday morning quarterbacking the situation,” a source told NBC News of Rep. Neal.
Recently leaked documents are raising new concerns surrounding Chinese tech giant Huawei. On Monday, leaked internal documents obtained by the Washington Post revealed Huawei worked with a Chinese-state owned tech firm for at least eight years on a variety of projects centered in North Korea. One of those projects included the development and maintaining of the country’s first commercial 3G wireless network.
The detailed spread sheet was shared by a former Huawei employee, who claimed the information is of public interest. However, the person’s identity has not been released out of fear of retaliation.
If the reports are true it would bring up a new conflict between the U.S. and China as such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to send equipment to North Korea.
The documents appear to confirm what U.S. officials have long feared — that Huawei is a national security risk.
“…you’ve seen…our effort to ensure that the networks in which American information flows are trusted, that we understand where that information is going, who’s the end user, and wanting to make sure the information doesn’t end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
— Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State
This latest development comes after the Trump administration agreed in June to lift some sanctions on the company, allowing U.S. companies to sell certain products to the the Chinese tech giant.
According to the Washington Post, Huawei has not directly responded to the report, but a spokesperson said the company does not have business in North Korea.
UPDATED 10:39 AM PT – Friday, July 19, 2019
The Justice Department has announced an overhaul to the federal criminal justice system as momentum behind the bipartisan First Step Act takes effect. The department has already rolled out key elements of the law. In a landmark display, President Trump will give 2,200 non-violent federal inmates what he calls “a second chance at life.”
“We will have done something that hasn’t been done in many many years and it’s the right thing to do,” he stated.
The plan includes a risk and needs assessment program, which is the cornerstone upon which inmates qualify for freedom. Offenders must have a history of good behavior and complete the assessment in order to have their release dates recalculated. The course reportedly includes everything from community transition awareness, job training, and re-offending prevention among other criteria.
Back in 2018, President Trump said this will reduce crime and mainly allow low-level drug offenders a chance at redemption.
“Prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption, so if something happens and they make a mistake they get a second chance at life,” he explained.
The Trump administration has also tapped the private sector to help inmates reenter society by helping them find jobs and housing after release. The effort is being applauded by civil rights groups, who say the measure aims to undo tough-on-crime policies which disproportionately affected minorities and nonviolent offenders back in the 80’s and 90’s.