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(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 33 pages of records from the Department of Justice showing that former senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr in his January 2018 preparation to testify to the Senate and House intelligence committees wrote to a lawyer about “possible ethics concerns.” Bruce Ohr forwarded the email to his wife Nellie Ohr, who had been hired by Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign-Democratic National Committee vendor who compiled the anti-Trump Dossier.

Judicial Watch obtained the records through its August 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Justice Department after it failed to respond to a May 29, 2018, FOIA request  (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice(No. 1:18-cv-01854)). Judicial Watch seeks:

All records from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

All records from the office of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher 

Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

All records from the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Organized Crime Task Force Director Bruce Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

On January 3, 2018, Bruce Ohr emails Justice Department ethics lawyer Cynthia Shaw, advising her that the Senate and House intelligence committees had requested to interview him about investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. He notes that a number of press reports had come out about his “alleged” connections to Christopher Steele. He asks her a question that is largely redacted but seeks information about “possible ethics concerns.” He forwards this email to his wife Nellie:

Cynthia –

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this morning. As requested, here is a short description of my question:

As you may have heard, the Senate intelligence committee and House intelligence committee requested to interview me in connection with their investigations of possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Shortly after receiving the Senate request, a series of stories broke in the press about my alleged connections to Chris Steele, the author of the so-called Trump dossier. [Redacted]

My question has to do with [redacted]. Are there any guidelines for [redacted] in order to satisfy any possible ethics concerns?

Shaw’s response is largely redacted:

Hi Bruce,

Can you obtain [redacted]

Thanks,

Cindy

The new documents also reveal a close relationship between Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr and DOJ Russia experts Lisa Holtyn, Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich.

On May 11, 2016, Nellie Ohr received an email invitation to attend a Hudson Institute “Kleptocracy Archive Launch.” Notably, Fusion GPS principal Glenn Simpson, listed as “a Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center” who “now works frequently on Russian corporate crime and criminal organizations,” was to be a panelist. Nellie forwarded the invitation on to top Bruce Ohr aide Lisa Holtyn and husband/wife DOJ lawyers Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich. Holtyn, Wheatley, and Nizich all worked for the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which investigated Russian cartels and other Russian syndicated crime matters.

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Source: The Washington Pundit

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Well isn’t this interesting.

On Thursday afternoon Ellen Weintrab, a DEMOCRAT Chair of the Federal Election Commission posted a statement online condemning President Trump for suggesting he may accept oppo research from a foreign government.

Democrat Weintraub was appointed by George W. Bush during a recess appointment.

One more fun fact about Weintraub — she worked for the DNC-Hillary Clinton-Deep State law firm Perkins Coie prior to being elected to FEC chair.

Per the FEC:

Commissioner Weintraub took office on December 9, 2002, after receiving a recess appointment; she was renominated and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on March 18, 2003. Commissioner Petersen was nominated and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on June 24, 2008.

Prior to her appointment to the Commission, Ms. Weintraub was Of Counsel to Perkins Coie LLP and a member of its Political Law Group. Before joining Perkins Coie, Ms. Weintraub was Counsel to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for the U.S. House of Representatives (the House Ethics Committee). Ms. Weintraub received her B.A., cum laude, from Yale College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Is this why Weintraub said nothing when Hillary Clinton paid for a junk Russian dossier and hid the payments by funneling the money through her law firm PERKINS COIE, worked with Ukrainians to obtain dirt on Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and reportedly had foreign intelligence agencies spy on the Trump campaign?

In October of 2017, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed an FEC complaint alleging the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign committee violated campaign finance law because they failed to disclose the purpose and recipient of payments for the phony Steele dossier.

Is this also why the FEC is ignoring Hillary Clinton’s $84 million campaign finance scandal?

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Source: The Washington Pundit

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A House Judiciary subcommittee will hold hearings on reparations next Wednesday, marking the first time in more than a decade that the House will discuss potentially compensating the descendants of slaves.

“The Case for Reparations” author Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover are reportedly set to testify before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the hearing’s stated purpose will be “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,” according to a Thursday Associated Press report.

The June 19 hearing also “coincides with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved blacks in America.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who sits on the subcommittee, again introduced H.R. 40 earlier this year to create a reparations commission. Jackson Lee said her bill would create a commission “to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans, resulting directly and indirectly from slavery to segregation to the desegregation process and the present day.” She added in January that the “commission would also make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery.”

“The impact of slavery and its vestiges continues to effect African Americans and indeed all Americans in communities throughout our nation,” Jackson Lee said.

“This legislation is intended to examine the institution of slavery in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present, and further recommend appropriate remedies. Since the initial introduction of this legislation, its proponents have made substantial progress in elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice at the national level and joining the mainstream international debate on the issues. Though some have tried to deflect the importance of these conversations by focusing on individual monetary compensation, the real issue is whether and how this nation can come to grips with the legacy of slavery that still infects current society. Through legislation, resolutions, news, and litigation, we are moving closer to making more strides in the movement toward reparations.”

Jackson Lee argued that despite the progress of African-Americans in the private sector, education, and the government in addition to “the election of the first American President of African descent, the legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation.”

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Source: The Washington Pundit

WASHINGTON — To President Trump, the question of culpability in the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is no question at all. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he declared on Friday.

The question is whether the writing is clear to everyone else. For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.

For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.

Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own.

“The problem is twofold for them,” said John E. McLaughlin, a deputy C.I.A. director during the Iraq war. “One is people will always rightly question intelligence because it’s not an exact science. But the most important problem for them is their own credibility and contradictions.”

The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.

At one point shortly before taking the oath of office, he compared intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany and ever since has cast doubt on their findings about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. This year, he repudiated his intelligence chiefs for their assessments of issues like Iran, declaring that “they are wrong” and “should go back to school.” And just this week, he rebuked the C.I.A. for using a brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as an informant, saying, “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”

All of that can raise questions when international tension flares up, like the explosion of the two oil tankers on Thursday, a provocation that fueled anxiety about the world’s most important oil shipping route and the prospect of escalation into military conflict. When Mr. Trump told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it,” he was asking his country to accept his word.

“Trump’s credibility is about as solid as a snake oil salesman,” said Jen Psaki, who was the White House communications director and top State Department spokeswoman under Mr. Obama. “That may work for selling his particular brand to his political base, but during serious times, it leaves him without a wealth of good will and trust from the public that what he is saying is true even on an issue as serious as Iran’s complicity in the tanker explosions.”

White House officials declined to discuss the president’s credibility on the record on Friday, but a senior administration official who asked not to be identified said Mr. Trump was not hyping a threat to justify a war. If anything, Mr. Trump has made clear since becoming a presidential candidate that he did not favor the sort of military interventionism that characterized Mr. Bush’s presidency and, to a lesser extent, even Mr. Obama’s at times.

Indeed, in his telephone interview on Friday with Fox News, Mr. Trump offered a measured response, avoiding any kinds of threats or discussion of military action. While he condemned the Iranians, he has pointedly not publicly floated the possibility of retaliation, and, in fact, he once again said he was open to talks with Tehran. “I’m ready when they are,” he said.

Image
An oil tanker that was attacked this week.CreditISNA, via Reuters

Still, Mr. Trump’s strained relationship with the truth has been a defining feature of his presidency. As of June 7, The Washington Post’s fact-checker had counted 10,796 false or misleading claims since he took office.

The president dismisses that as so much “fake news” by journalists who are “enemies of the people.” Just this week, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he was the truthteller, not reporters. “I like the truth,” Mr. Trump said. “You know, I’m actually a very honest guy.”

But it has taken a toll on his credibility with the public. A Quinnipiac University poll last month found that only 35 percent of Americans trust Mr. Trump to tell the truth about important issues versus 52 percent who trusted the news media more.

When it came to this week’s oil tanker explosions, Mr. Trump at first left it to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to point the finger at Iran and he followed up a day later. To bolster the case, the United States military released video footage that American officers said showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling alongside one of the stricken ships several hours after the first explosion and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight. That mine is what Mr. Trump said had “Iran written all over it.”

Iran has denied responsibility and suggested that the episode was a “false flag” operation by the United States to frame it and justify aggression. But Iran has its own credibility issues, and even Mr. Trump’s critics were generally not rushing to accept Tehran’s word.

“Look, it could very well have been the Iranians,” said Trita Parsi, a scholar at Georgetown University and the founder of the National Iranian American Council. “I don’t think anyone can say they’re innocent.”

But Mr. Trump’s “relationship with the truth” is so suspect, he said, it argues for stepping back and not drawing conclusions until there is more evidence. “With this president, with the country already so divided, even those who support him may not be totally confident that everything he’s saying is truthful,” said Mr. Parsi, the author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy.”

Even supporters of Mr. Trump’s tougher approach to Iran acknowledge the credibility challenge. Mark Wallace, the executive director of United Against Nuclear Iran and a strong critic of Mr. Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran that Mr. Trump has since renounced, said the government needs to rely on its career professionals to inform the public about Tehran’s activities.

“The one way of doing that is place the burden of persuasion and validating the facts on the military and intelligence community that at least is more immune to the politically charged atmosphere that we live in,” said Mr. Wallace, who was a diplomat at the United Nations under Mr. Bush. “With Iran, I’ve been surprised actually that it’s been relatively depoliticized.”

Much of the distrust traces back to Mr. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction that he and intelligence agencies assured the public were there. Mr. McLaughlin acknowledged the damage that did to the public standing of the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.

But he said the intelligence community has reformed itself since then. “There really has been an enormous effort to take stock of that and use that,” he said. “And intelligence has been right about an awful lot since then.”

“The problem with intelligence is it’s always contentious, it’s always arguable,” Mr. McLaughlin added. “But at some point you have to settle on a bottom line and he often doesn’t believe in a bottom line on intelligence. So how do you believe what he says?”

As he reflected on the moment, he added, “It’s a pretty dangerous situation I think.”

Trump Says He WILL NOT Fire Kellyanne Conway. What Do You Think About The Hatch Act?

Iranian vessel removed unexploded mine from stricken oil tanker in Gulf of Oman, US officials say

An Iranian vessel removed an unexploded mine that had been attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker that suffered serious damage after an explosion in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, U.S. officials told Fox News, as the U.S. Navy released video purportedly showing the incident. The imagery came from the USS See More Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer that rescued 21 sailors from the stricken tanker.

At least one other mine attached to the tanker’s hull detonated, causing the blast. It happened near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key route for oil shipments in the region. A U.S. official told Fox News an Iranian gunboat approached the Kokuka Courageous later in the day and removed the unexploded triangular-shaped limpet mine, the same type of mine used to damage four other tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month.

WH press secretary Sarah Sanders will leave office by the end of the month, Trump says

President Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will be leaving her position at the end of the month. “After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Trump wrote. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

The president has not yet named a replacement for Sanders. His announcement came moments before he made remarks at a White House event on its “Second Chance” program boosting the hiring of criminals who have served their sentences.

Julian Castro admits Hatch Act ‘mistake,’ calls for Kellyanne Conway’s termination, in Fox News Town Hall

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told Fox News on Thursday night that White House adviser Kellyanne Conway should be fired for violating the Hatch Act — the same federal law Castro himself was found to have violated in 2016. The 2020 White House contender’s remarks came in a Fox News Town Hall in Tempe, Ariz., hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

Man killed by US Marshals Service was wanted in connection with Mississippi shooting

A 20-year-old black man whose Wednesday shooting death by a fugitive task force sparked a night of violence and unrest in a Memphis, Tenn., neighborhood, was wanted for a shooting in Mississippi, according to media reports. DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion said Brandon Webber was being sought on aggravated assault and armed robbery charges related to a shooting during a car theft in Hernando, Miss., on June 3. The victim was shot five times and survived, Champion said.

Toronto Raptors win first NBA championship in franchise history
The Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors played without Kevin Durant, who injured his Achilles tendon in the last series. Golden State was 0-3 at home against Toronto this season, losing all three games by double digits. Game 6 was the final time the Warriors played at Oracle Arena, their home for 47 seasons. The team moves to the Chase Center in San Francisco next season.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
2nd suspect tied in Benghazi terror attack convicted on 2 counts
CNN boss Jeff Zucker makes sexual joke about star anchor during award ceremony: report.
Oberlin College to pay bakery the now-massive sum of $44M over racism dispute.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Fake online videos growing corporate threat: Cybersecurity expert.
Elizabeth Warren to introduce bill to ‘cancel’ student debt for millions.
Colorado’s marijuana revenue surpasses $1B.

SOME PARTING WORDS

Hannity calls out the left’s selective outrage over Trump’s comments that he would listen to foreign entities with information on a political opponent while ignoring foreign election interference that was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

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Sen. Mitt Romney moved Wednesday on an immigration proposal he claims would address one reason hundreds of thousands have illegally crossed into the U.S. since October, and the bill could find an unexpected supporter in President Trump.

Romney on Wednesday introduced the Permanent E-Verify Act, which would turn the E-Verify program into a permanent fixture within the U.S. employment system. The introduction marks the first immigration item Romney has proposed since taking office in January, according to his aide.

“Congress needs to act now to address our illegal immigration crisis by closing legal loopholes and removing the magnets — like illegal unemployment — that drive illegal immigration,” Romney said in a statement. “My home state of Utah has already taken a step to reduce illegal employment by requiring employers to use E-Verify. I urge my colleagues to take action on this important legislation to make E-Verify permanent, and continue working on long term fixes to secure the border, update our asylum and trafficking laws, and institute mandatory E-Verify nationwide.”

E-Verify is an online tool that allows employers to input a new hire’s driver’s license and Social Security information to verify whether the person’s identity is legitimate and eligible for work. Hiring an undocumented immigrant is a federal crime.

All federal government employees and contractors must be cleared through E-Verify prior to being hired, but enrollment for the private sector is voluntary. The bill would not force all private entities to enroll or use the program, just make its renewal — usually done by Congress every year — a thing of the past.

E-Verify initially rolled out in 1996 as a pilot program by the Clinton administration and is now administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is set to expire at the end of September.

The White House is in the process of piecing together an immigration reform bill that has been reported as likely to include E-Verify. Trump has endorsed the policy but not moved on any executive action that would make it a permanent program or force companies to enroll.

Romney and Trump are known foes who have criticized each other since the 2016 presidential election. At the time, Trump ripped the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, saying if he had fought as heard as he did against Trump in 2016, he would have beat former President Barack Obama four years earlier.

Romney’s office has not indicated if it expects the White House to endorse the bill.

Trump says Sleepy Joe reminds him of running against “Crooked Hillary” in 2016. Do you think Joe Biden has a chance?

Trump, Biden give preview of 2020 general election as they blast each other in Iowa
In what could be a preview of the 2020 general election campaign for the White House, both Joe Biden and President Trump took repeated, personal swipes at each other during dueling political events in different Iowa communities on Tuesday afternoon. Trump tore into Biden as “Sleepy Joe” and said See More the former vice president reminds him of running against “Crooked Hillary” in 2016. On the other side of the state, at about the same time, Biden said the Trump presidency “has got to end,” after labeling the president an “existential threat to America” earlier in the day.

The president hit Biden for visiting Iowa “once every two weeks,” mocking the former vice president for repeatedly mentioning his name. Meanwhile, Biden employed a similar line of attack. “One of my staff showed me that apparently he had my speech on — on Air Force One,” Biden said at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant. “I guess he’s really fascinated with me. I find it fascinating.”

Sanders to make his case for Democratic socialism
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is expected to make a speech on Wednesday touting his idea of Democratic socialism, a systempromising Medicare-for-all, free public college and a $15-per-hour minimum wage, all of which have caused Republicans to dismiss him as too far to the left. Sanders is expected to defend these ideals as the “unfinished business” necessary to restore America to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal era if he’s elected president in 2020. His campaign platform will largely hinge on the promise to address the growing wealth inequality and guarantee economic rights that he feels all American’s are entitled to.

Jon Stewart shames lawmakers on behalf of 9/11 first responders
Jon Stewart slammed lawmakers who missed a hearing Tuesday on 9/11 victims’ compensation fund and called on them to back up their words with actions and help American heroes who are still suffering today. The sparse attendance by lawmakers was “an embarrassment to the country and a stain on the institution” of Congress, Stewart said during the hearing, adding the “disrespect” shown to first responders now suffering from respiratory ailments and other illnesses, “is utterly unacceptable.” Lawmakers from both parties said they support the bill and were monitoring the hearing amid other congressional business.

Still, the empty seats were unacceptable to Stewart. “That drove me nuts,” the comedian said in an interview on “Shepard Smith Reporting.” “They kept saying it’s a ‘sub-subcommittee.’ There’s still people on the sub-subcommittee that aren’t here. Either 9/11 was a priority or it wasn’t. But, your deeds have to at some point match your tweets and your words. Today it didn’t.”

Donald Trump Jr. to testify on Russia again
Donald Trump Jr. will testify Wednesday behind closed doorsbefore the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of what the president has called an “unfair” effort to subject his son to yet another interview on Russia-related matters. The interview will likely be relatively brief. Trump Jr. has already provided more than twodozen hours of testimony before Congress. The latest meeting comes after the committee’s Republican chairman, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, subpoenaed him as part of the panel’s Russia investigation.

Donald Jr’s latest testimony comes as House Democrats on Tuesday passed a civil enforcement resolution that Democrats say effectively holds Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress. On Monday, a key Democrat-led committee postponed its own contempt vote and said the Justice Department was cooperating with its investigation.

US Women’s World Cup team a bunch of sore winners?
The U.S. women’s 13-0 shellacking of Thailand to kick off their Women’s World Cup title defense on Tuesday inspired confidence.But it also came under criticism from some who felt the team showed poor sportsmanship by continuing to score and celebrate in front of an already-beaten opponent. “0.0 problem with the score line as this is THE tournament BUT celebrating goals (like #9) leaves a sour taste in my mouth like many of you, Tweeted Taylor Twellman, ESPN soccer analyst.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
Texas governor signs controversial ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ billinto law. 
Mini-AOC releases ‘re-election video’ mocking the New York congresswoman.
US Congress members: A look at perks and pay.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Lawsuit aiming to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger filed by group of US state attorneys general.
Amazon surpasses Google, Appleas world’s most valuable brand: report.
What Trump’s new ethanol rulesmean for you.

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WASHINGTON — Two of the best-known women in Democratic politics had just recorded a video to upbraid Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez started bantering about the final episode of “Game of Thrones.” Their riff bemoaning the show’s anti-feminist finale was caught on tape, slapped up on Twitter, and in a flash drew almost 2 million viewers.

Most every time Warren and Ocasio-Cortez have teamed up of late — for lunch, legislative matters and video messaging — they have drawn millions of eyeballs.

They have also raised eyebrows.

Warren fans wonder whether — and hope that — Ocasio-Cortez may eventually endorse the Massachusetts senator in her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

But the freshman House member, a superstar of the progressive movement, has more history with Warren’s leading rival for progressive votes in the 2020 Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. They too have teamed up on many legislative and political matters. Many Democrats find it hard to imagine Ocasio-Cortez will not eventually back Sanders, as she did in 2016.

The fact that a 29-year-old freshman House member is being sought out by two presidential candidates with years of congressional seniority who are more than twice her age speaks volumes about the state of the Democratic Party and the dynamics of its primary process.

Ocasio-Cortez embodies a younger generation of Democrats led by women and people of color — a progressive voting bloc that brings intense passion to the fight to oust President Donald Trump. She also has a gift for creating social media sensations that old-school Democrats can only dream of.

“I would argue that she is one of the most important endorsements in the Democratic Party right now,” said Rebecca Katz, a strategist who used to work for former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “She has a huge reach beyond any other member of Congress. She knows how to use her voice.”

That voice could make a big difference in the sub rosa contest between Warren and Sanders for dominance among the party’s most progressive voters and in the jockeying to emerge as the leading left challenger to Joe Biden, who currently leads in polling. Sanders, who became a folk hero to progressives in his 2016 presidential bid, has held a significant lead over Warren since he entered the race, but the spread has narrowed in recent weeks.

Ocasio-Cortez told CNN this spring that she did not expect to make an endorsement in the crowded 2020 field “for a while,” but in discussing what she was looking for in a nominee, she singled out Warren and Sanders.

“What I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that.”

Asked for more specifics about when she would make an endorsement, her spokesman, Corbin Trent, said it would be early enough to have an impact.

“She wants to make sure her endorsement matters in the race,” he said. “Timing is important.”

One candidate she almost surely will not endorse in the early primaries is Biden.

He “does not particularly animate me,” she said in an interview earlier this spring with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”

But she was, perhaps surprisingly, prepared to be a party loyalist in the end: “I will support whoever the Democratic nominee is,” she said.

For Democrats other than Warren and Sanders, association with Ocasio-Cortez could be risky: Party centrists worry about her high profile as a democratic socialist. She has become the poster child for Republicans’ cornerstone strategy for 2020 — portraying the entire Democratic Party as pursuing a socialist agenda.

Republicans believe their job has been made easier since several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Biden, the self-styled centrist, have embraced Ocasio-Cortez’s signature issue — the Green New Deal agenda for combating climate change.

“The fact that Joe Biden is embracing the Green New Deal shows you how far left the Democratic Party has gone,” said Michael McAdams, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the political arm of the House GOP.

A March Quinnipiac University poll found that more people (36%) had an unfavorable view of Ocasio-Cortez than a favorable one (23%). But 38% didn’t know enough to have an opinion. Opinion was of course deeply split by party: 74% of Republicans viewed her unfavorably; just 7% of Democrats did.

It is not clear how much an Ocasio-Cortez endorsement would mean in the early-voting states that matter most: In Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, voters like to make their own judgments, and the endorsement of a progressive Democrat from New York City might not matter much.

Still, she has already succeeded in using her social-media megaphone to shape the 2020 debate and promote issues she cares about.

She called for former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland to end his long-shot presidential bid after he was booed at the California Democratic Party convention for saying Medicare for all was bad politics and policy.

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She teamed up with Sen. Kamala Harris of California on a bill to expand access to federally subsidized housing. The two are not ideological soulmates but are looking for ways to promote the bill together, perhaps in a video.

Her biggest footprint has been left on the climate change debate. The Green New Deal was regarded as a wish list when Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives unveiled it earlier this year. Now it is almost a mandatory part of candidates’ stump speech.

For now, progressive candidates are happy to shine in Ocasio-Cortez’s reflected social media glow.

“Irrespective of any kind of endorsement, the fact she is often lending support for the progressive movement is so immensely helpful,” said Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager. On whether she will endorse Sanders, Shakir said, “I want to respect that she is going to have her own process. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s ties to Sanders reach back to his 2016 campaign, when she worked as a volunteer organizer in New York. When she ran for Congress in 2018, in her upstart primary challenge to 10-term Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley, she was endorsed by Our Revolution, a political organization close to Sanders — but not by Sanders himself.

After she won the primary, which was tantamount to winning the general election in the heavily Democratic district, she was enough of a political celebrity that she campaigned with Sanders on behalf of other Democrats in the midterm election.

Before she was even sworn in, she appeared with Sanders at a December 2018 forum on climate change.

“She is a bold progressive fighting for a Green New Deal,” Sanders said then.

The two also appeared at another event on the Green New Deal in May, when Ocasio-Cortez took a not-so-veiled swipe at Biden, just days after reports surfaced that he was considering a “middle ground” climate plan — a report his campaign denied.

“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need a ‘middle of the road’ approach to save our lives,” she declared.

Ocasio-Cortez and Warren had not gotten to know each other until this year. They met for lunch in March at Olivia, a Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Washington. The lunch became a Twitter sensation after they were spotted. In response, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about the Middle Eastern yogurt dish they ate, and got more than 100,000 “likes.”

On more substantive matters, Ocasio-Cortez supported Warren’s campaign promise to break up big tech companies. And she spoke up to deride a news report that appeared to criticize legal consulting work Warren did while she taught at Harvard Law School.

“Breaking News: Lady Had a Job, Got Paid More Than Me,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Their joint video on Mnuchin, which raised questions about his role in the demise of Sears, where he had been a board member, got hundreds of thousands of views on Warren’s Facebook page.

Warren lionized Ocasio-Cortez when Time magazine asked her to write about the young member of Congress for its “100 most influential people of 2019” issue.

“A year ago, she was taking orders across a bar,” Warren wrote. “Today, millions are taking cues from her.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s divided 2020 loyalties were on full display in the “Skullduggery” interview.

“‘I’m very supportive of Bernie’s run” she said. “I haven’t endorsed anybody, but I’m very supportive of Bernie. I also think what Elizabeth Warren has been bringing to the table is … truly remarkable, truly remarkable and transformational.”

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Brushing back calls for impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday “it’s not even close” to having enough support in the House, while Democrats pushed forward on other fronts to investigate President Donald Trump.

The House voted 229-191 to approve a resolution that will allow Democrats to accelerate their legal battles with the Trump administration over access to information from the Russia investigation.

At the same time, they’re convening hearings this week on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in an effort to boost public interest in the findings of the Trump-Russia probe while digging into a legal strategy aimed at forcing Attorney General William Barr, former White House counsel Don McGahn and others into compliance with congressional oversight.

“We need answers to the questions left unanswered by the Mueller report,” Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of voting.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy countered that the Democratic maneuvers are all “just a desperate attempt to relitigate the Mueller investigation.” He called it “an impeachment effort in everything but name.”

Earlier in the day, Pelosi all but ignored questions about impeachment during a policy conference, saying the Democrats’ strategy is “legislating, investigating, litigating” — in that order.

Pressed about Trump, she said: “I’m done with him. I don’t even want to talk about him.”

The House’s far-reaching resolution approved Tuesday empowers committee chairs to sue top Trump administration officials to force compliance with congressional subpoenas, including those for Mueller’s full report and his underlying evidence. They now no longer need a vote of the full House.

The Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, urged his colleagues to support the legislation “so we can get into court and break the stonewall without delay.”

After the vote, Nadler said he would go to court “as quickly as possible” against McGahn, who at the behest of the White House has defied subpoenas for documents and his testimony.

The chairman also said he is prepared to go to court to enforce subpoenas against former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, a former McGahn aide, if they don’t show up for scheduled interviews this month.

And Nadler added new names to the list, saying he is also interested in hearing from Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt, who served as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, and former White House aide Rick Dearborn. Both are mentioned frequently in the Mueller report.

“Either work with us and comply with subpoenas or we’ll see you in court,” said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the Rules Committee.

House leaders have signaled they will hold off on suing Barr, for now, after the committee struck a deal with the Justice Department to receive some underlying materials from Mueller’s report. Nadler has called these some of Mueller’s “most important files” and said all members of the committee will be able to view them. They include redacted portions of the report pertaining to obstruction of justice. Some staff have already started viewing the files.

However, Nadler said the committee will likely sue for access to the report’s secret grand jury information.

The chairmen of several oversight committees said after the vote that Tuesday’s action extends beyond the Russia investigation into other aspects of Trump’s administration, including their subpoena for the president’s tax returns.

“This is not just about Russia, this is a broad, coordinated campaign to stall more investigations across the board,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the chairman of the Oversight Committee. “We are here in a fight for the soul of our democracy and we will use every single tool that is available to us to hold this administration accountable.”

It’s not clear if that will be enough, though, for the dozens of House Democrats who say it’s beyond time to start impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi has resisted those efforts so far, preferring to build the case in the courts, and in the court of public opinion.

The No. 2 Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, downplayed the tensions, saying Tuesday he doesn’t get the impression the caucus is “embroiled by this issue and divided by this issue. We have differences of opinion, but I don’t think that we are divided.”

The ramped-up actions this week are intended to mollify some of the impatient members, while also seeking to deepen the public’s understanding of Mueller’s findings.

Mueller wrote in his 448-page report released last month that there was not enough evidence to establish that there was a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but he also said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. The report examined several episodes in which Trump attempted to influence or curtail Mueller’s investigation.

On Monday, the Judiciary panel heard testimony from John Dean, a White House counsel under Richard Nixon who helped bring down his presidency. Dean testified that Mueller has provided Congress with a “road map” for investigating Trump.

The focus on Mueller will continue Wednesday, when the House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to review the counterintelligence implications of Russia’s election interference, as detailed in Mueller’s report. The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Also Wednesday, the Oversight Committee will consider new contempt citations against Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the administration’s pursuit of citizenship questions on the U.S. Census.

Republicans have criticized the hearings as a waste of time and have called for Democrats to move on.

___

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

The House voted Tuesday to grant new legal powers to a key committee investigating the Trump administration, handing Democrats another tool in their battle to bore deeper into Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff says Intel panel will hold ‘series’ of hearings on Mueller report Schiff says Intel panel will hold ‘series’ of hearings on Mueller report Key House panel faces pivotal week on Trump MORE‘s report on Russia’s election meddling and potential obstruction by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop Armed Services Republican plots push for 0B defense budget Amash exits House Freedom Caucus in wake of Trump impeachment stance Amash exits House Freedom Caucus in wake of Trump impeachment stance MORE.

The 229-191 vote broke down strictly along partisan lines with no defectors from either party, highlighting the entrenched divisions on Capitol Hill between Democrats accusing Trump of conducting a “cover-up” related to Mueller’s findings, and Republicans fighting to protect their White House ally from what they consider a political “witch hunt” heading into 2020.

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The resolution empowers the House Judiciary Committee to go before a federal court in seeking the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) compliance with subpoenas for disputed materials and witness testimony. Two figures are named explicitly in the text: Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAmash exits House Freedom Caucus in wake of Trump impeachment stance Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day MORE, who has refused to release some parts of Mueller’s report and the underlying documents; and Don McGhan, the former White House counsel who has defied a Democratic subpoena to appear before the committee. 

But in a late-debate twist, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWatergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by MAPRx – Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by MAPRx – Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he’s reached a deal with DOJ officials to access “Mueller’s most important files.” 

The surprise 11th-hour agreement has tempered some of the long-running tensions between Democrats and the administration. And leading up to the vote on Tuesday, Democratic leaders simultaneously hailed the resolution as a necessary and aggressive expansion of their constitutional oversight powers, while also suggesting they might not ever need to use it. 

“The timeline will, in part, depend on whether the DOJ continues to cooperate with our legitimate Article I powers of oversight and investigation,” said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesSteyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Trump’s border aid request stalls amid fresh obstacles MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus. 

“If they continue to cooperate with us, I would expect that we will not race to the courthouse.”

That appeasement does not extend, however, to McGahn. And Democrats are suggesting they’ll use the new legal powers provided by Tuesday’s resolution to go after the former White House counsel in the not too distant future.

“Seems to me that Mr. McGahn is in a particularly vulnerable situation as a private citizen,” Jeffries said. “He should either begin to cooperate immediately, or face the consequences.” 

The vote comes as a growing number of liberal Democrats are endorsing the launch of an impeachment inquiry targeting Trump — a move opposed by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFeehery: Pelosi’s dangerous impeachment game Feehery: Pelosi’s dangerous impeachment game Press: How ‘Nervous Nancy’ trumped Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats, who have political concerns about taking such a drastic step without a greater show of public support. 

“There is nothing as divisive in our country, in my view, than impeachment,” Pelosi said Tuesday during an event in Washington, delivering a familiar refrain.

At least 56 rank-and-file lawmakers are backing impeachment, according to a tally kept by The Hill, and Pelosi is under growing pressure to show that her preferred strategy of aggressive investigations is getting results. 

The language adopted by Democrats in describing Tuesday’s resolution hints at the eagerness of top Democrats to project an image of going tough on the scandal-plagued administration, even as they’re opting against even sterner legal measures at their disposal. 

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Indeed, Democratic leaders are labeling the resolution one of “civil contempt.” But the measure makes no mention of contempt. And the language is much softer than another resolution, passed through the Judiciary panel last month, to hold Barr and McGahn in criminal contempt of Congress — a step that carries steep penalties, including heavy fines and up to a year in prison. 

“We’re calling it contempt, for short, because the courts obviously would have to find the executive branch in contempt in order to, sort of, render the orders to comply,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinOvernight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health Overnight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health House Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health MORE (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and former constitutional law professor. 

“So it’s, generally speaking, not contempt.” 

There is some disagreement among the Democrats as to why they didn’t pursue the criminal contempt resolution. Jeffries and Nadler both cited the DOJ’s recent decision to share more Mueller files as the reason they softened their position. 

“We began to see yesterday, in the face of the possibility of either a criminal contempt citation, or proceeding with inherent contempt, that they began to see things differently all of a sudden,” Jeffries said.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raise House Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raise This week: House Democrats escalate battle over Mueller report MORE (D-Md.) suggested the decision was rooted in more practical considerations, noting the unlikelihood of DOJ attorneys prosecuting the head of the agency. 

“I understand contempt is not in the resolution — it’s essentially civil contempt —and … it authorizes the committee to go to … have the courts enforce the subpoena,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “We think that’s a much more productive route than pretending that a U.S. attorney appointed by Donald Trump is going to pursue the attorney general — his boss — for contempt.”

Separately, Democrats are still negotiating for the testimony of Mueller, who had indicated last month that he’d prefer not to appear before Congress to discuss his findings. Nadler has taken the lead on those talks, but has declined to give updates on their status.

The drawn-out timeline has frustrated a growing number of lawmakers, who want the special counsel to clarify a host of questions still lingering around his report, particularly his reason for not recommending obstruction charges against the president.

“That is the view of the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus,” Jeffries said. “Bob Mueller has a duty to the American people to bring those conclusions to light in public testimony before the United States Congress.”


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