Kentucky

Horse Racing: 144th Preakness
May 18, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Tyler Gaffalione aboard War of Will (1) wins the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

May 19, 2019

(Reuters) – War of Will, running along the rail, won the Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course on Saturday in a Triple Crown race with a riderless horse.

War of Will had finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby after becoming entangled with Maximum Security, which finished first at Churchill Downs but was later disqualified.

On Saturday the three-year-old colt burst through coming around the final turn and earned jockey Tyler Gaffalione his first Triple Crown race victory.

“He’s got so much heart,” Gaffalione said. “We always knew he had the ability. We just had to get a little bit lucky and today was his day.”

Hard-charging Everfast finished second and Owendale third in the race, the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

The event lost much of its luster when both Kentucky Derby winner Country House and Maximum Security withdrew beforehand.

Still the race had its share of excitement when Bodexpress threw jockey John Velazquez after leaving the starting gate and romped around the track riderless, even doing an extra lap before being caught.

The win was a first for War of Will trainer Mark Casse, whose Classic Empire lost by a head to Cloud Computing in the Preakness in 2017.

“We almost got it done a couple of years ago and this is even more special, given everything we’ve been through,” Casse said.

Early leader Warrior’s Charge finished fourth and Laughing Fox fifth. The pre-race favorite Improbable was sixth.

Alwaysmining was 11th. His trainer, former schoolteacher Kelly Rubley had been bidding to become the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

The Belmont Stakes will conclude the Triple Crown series on June 8 in Elmont, New York.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

Nearly three decades ago, when Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ wife was 20 weeks pregnant with their first child, a doctor discovered their daughter had spina bifida and encouraged an abortion. The Edwardses refused.

Now, daughter Samantha is married and working as a school counselor, and Edwards finds himself an outlier in polarized abortion politics.

“My position hasn’t changed. In eight years in the Legislature, I was a pro-life legislator,” he said. When he ran for governor, his view was the same. “I’m as consistent as I can be on that point.”

Edwards, who has repeatedly bucked national party leaders on abortion rights, is about to do it again. He’s ready to sign legislation that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant, when the bill reaches his desk.

Louisiana’s proposal , awaiting one final vote in the state House, would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, similar to laws passed in Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia and Ohio that aim to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Alabama has gone even further, enacting a law that makes performing abortions a felony at any stage of pregnancy with almost no exceptions.

But the abortion bans in those other conservative states — spurred by anti-abortion activists hoping the addition of conservative judges to the Supreme Court could help overturn Roe v. Wade — were backed by Republican governors.

A rarity in his party, Edwards’ anti-abortion stance provokes angry outcries on social media from Democratic voters and disappointment within the party’s broader ranks across the country.

“When Republicans are taking away women’s rights at every step, it’s on the Democrats to show that we are the party that will protect women. When we fail to do that, we make it absolutely hopeless for women around the country,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive Democratic consultant.

The abortion-rights debates that divide state Capitols across the nation cause few ripples in the Louisiana Legislature. It is one of the country’s most staunchly anti-abortion states, with a law on the books that immediately outlaws abortion if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. State lawmakers annually enact new regulations seeking to curb access with bipartisan support.

This year’s so-called heartbeat bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich, has received little public opposition from lawmakers as it steadily advances. The ban, however, only would take effect if a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi.

The Louisiana bill includes an exception if the pregnant woman’s health is in “serious risk,” but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

“It gives a very small window for a woman to be able to access abortion services,” said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights organization that researches reproductive health issues.

Edwards’ embrace of the anti-abortion legislation is unusual for a present-day Democratic governor, Nash said, although that was not always the case.

“If you think back 20 years, abortion politics were less along party lines,” she said. “There were moderate Republicans who supported abortion rights because they felt there was a right to privacy and places where government should not go.”

Edwards said his views are in line with the people of his conservative, religious state, who he described as “overwhelmingly pro-life.” And he said he extends that philosophy to his decision to expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program under the federal health overhaul law, a decision unpopular with Republicans, “because I think that, too, is pro-life.”

“That’s the way I was raised. That’s what my Catholic Christian faith requires,” the governor said on his monthly radio show. “I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day.”

When he ran for governor in 2015, Edwards made opposition to abortion a central platform of his campaign. In a TV ad, his wife, Donna, described being advised to have an abortion because of their daughter’s spinal birth defect. The ad showed a grown-up Samantha as Donna Edwards said, “She’s living proof that John Bel Edwards lives his values every day.”

Four years later, as Edwards runs for a second term, his two major Republican challengers — U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone — have tried to hammer him for abortion rights policies endorsed by his party nationally.

But that narrative is tough to make stick against a governor who repeatedly signs abortion restrictions, along with data released in March that showed the number of abortions in Louisiana declined each year of Edwards’ tenure.

“This is not an easy issue to pigeonhole people — or especially me — on, at least, because I don’t think the labels really work,” Edwards said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Horse Racing: Preakness Scenes
FILE PHOTO: May 14, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; A general view of the straight away in front of the seating coming out of turn four at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

May 17, 2019

(Reuters) – A three-year-old filly collapsed and died after racing at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Friday, a day before the Preakness Stakes.

Congrats Gal fell to the track after finishing last in the Miss Preakness Stakes, officials said.

“Congrats Gal suffered death after the eighth race,” the Stronach Group, which operates the track, said in a statement.

“The incident occurred after the wire (finish). Veterinarians attended to the horse immediately.”

A cause of death has not been determined and a full necropsy will be performed, the Stronach Group said.

The death comes after 23 horses suffered fatal injuries at Santa Anita Park in California between December and March, resulting in the temporary closing of the track.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) immediately called for an investigation of the Maryland death.

“The sickening collapse and sudden death of Congrats Gal at Pimlico today are proof that the Maryland racing industry has not done enough to protect horses,” the statement said.

“PETA will be calling for a formal investigation, including a necropsy and blood toxicology panel, and for the release of all medication and veterinary records.

“We will be contacting the district attorney’s office, as we did in California, where the D.A. has appointed a task force to investigate training and veterinary practices.”

Reuters has contacted the Pimlico track operators for comment.

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The first, the Kentucky Derby, was held on May 4 and the concluding race, the Belmont Stakes is set for June 8.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Flag and Alabama State Flag fly over the Alabama Governor's Mansion as the state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery
The U.S. Flag and Alabama State Flag fly over the Alabama Governor’s Mansion as the state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

May 16, 2019

By Steve Gorman and Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Alabama’s governor signed a bill on Wednesday to ban nearly all abortions in the state, even in cases of rape and incest, in the latest challenge by conservatives to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

U.S. abortion rights activists had already vowed to go to court to block enforcement of the Alabama measure, the strictest anti-abortion law yet enacted with the intention of provoking reconsideration of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

That effort has thrust the emotional debate over abortion back to the forefront of national politics in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed the measure a day after the Republican-controlled state Senate approved the ban and rejected a Democratic-backed amendment to allow abortions for women and girls impregnated by rape or incest.

“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” Ivey said in a statement.

Abortion supporters across the country condemned the bill as part of a Republican-backed assault on the rights of women to control their own bodies.

“This is the war on women,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, “It’s in full swing, and it’s decades in the making.”

The Alabama law would take effect in six months.

Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states, four of whose governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected.

Planned Parenthood joined the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday in filing a legal challenge to Ohio’s recent ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

The Alabama bill goes further, banning abortions at any time, unless the mother’s health is in danger. Those performing abortions would be committing a felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison. A woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable.

‘GONE TOO FAR’

Most of the Democratic candidates seeking their party’s 2020 nomination to run for the White House condemned the Alabama law, calling it an attack on women’s rights and vowing to fight to uphold legal access to abortion.

“The idea that supposed leaders have passed a law that would criminalize a physician for assisting a woman on something that she, in consult with her physician, with her God, with her faith leader, has made the decision to do, that is her body that you would criminalize,” U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, one of the large field of hopefuls, said at a town hall on Wednesday morning in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Some on Twitter had called on their allies to mail coat hangers to Ivey, as a reminder of the illegal abortion practices common before it was made legal.

Christian television broadcaster Pat Robertson, a staunch critic of Roe v. Wade, said the Alabama law “has gone too far.”

“It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe versus Wade. But my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” Robertson said on his program, “The 700 Club.”

Anti-abortion advocates are aware that any laws they pass are certain to be challenged. Courts this year have blocked a restrictive Kentucky law and another in Iowa passed last year.

But supporters of the Alabama ban said the right to life of the fetus transcended other rights, an idea they would like tested at the Supreme Court.

The highest U.S. court, now with a majority of conservative justices after Republican President Donald Trump appointed two, could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. That decision held that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental right to privacy that protects a woman’s right to abortion.

Roe v. Wade did allow states to place restrictions on the procedure from the time a fetus could viably survive outside the womb, except in cases in which a woman’s health was otherwise at risk. A fetus is generally considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks. A full-term pregnancy typically is about 40 weeks.

Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio enacted statutes this year outlawing abortion after a doctor can detect an embryonic heartbeat.

Opponents call the “heartbeat” legislation a virtual ban because embryonic cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may even be aware she is pregnant.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Daniel Trotta in New York; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York, Ginger Gibson in Washington, and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Lisa Shumaker and Paul Tait)

Source: OANN

Horse Racing: 145th Kentucky Derby
FILE PHOTO: May 4, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Luis Saez reacts during an inquiry after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby that disqualified his horse Maximum Security at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

May 13, 2019

Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez was suspended 15 days by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Monday for his controversial ride in the Kentucky Derby.

On May 4, Maximum Security became the first horse in the race’s 145-year history to be disqualified after finishing first.

The colt was dropped to 17th place after Churchill Downs stewards ruled that Saez had interfered with multiple horses by drifting out in front of War of Will during the final turn. After a lengthy delay, long shot Country House was declared the winner.

Saez was cited for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount.”

Saez has the right to appeal his suspension, which would bar him from riding at any track during a 15-day period that includes the dates May 23-27, May 30-June 2, June 6-9 and June 13-14.

During a film review session with track stewards last week, Saez and his attorney Ann Oldfather argued that War of Will and jockey Tyler Gaffalione were responsible for the incident.

No other jockeys will face punishment, according to the KHRC.

Neither Maximum Security nor Country House will compete in Saturday’s Preakness, the second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

If a new Mississippi law survives a court challenge, it will be nearly impossible for most pregnant women to get an abortion there.

Or, potentially, in neighboring Louisiana. Or Alabama. Or Georgia.

The Louisiana legislature is halfway toward passing a law — like the ones enacted in Mississippi and Georgia — that will ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. Alabama is on the cusp of approving an even more restrictive bill.

State governments are on a course to virtually eliminate abortion access in large chunks of the Deep South and Midwest. Ohio and Kentucky also have passed heartbeat laws; Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature is considering one.

Their hope is that a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court will approve, spelling the end of the constitutional right to abortion.

“For pro-life folks, these are huge victories,” said Sue Liebel, state director for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion advocacy group. “And I think they’re indicative of the momentum and excitement and the hope that’s happening with changes in the Supreme Court and having such a pro-life president.”

For abortion rights supporters, meanwhile, the trend is ominous. Said Diane Derzis, owner of Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization: “I think it’s certainly more dire than it ever has been. They smell blood and that’s why they’re doing this.”

Already, Mississippi mandates a 24-hour wait between an in-person consultation. That means women must make at least two trips to her clinic, often traveling long distances.

Other states have passed similar, incremental laws restricting abortion in recent years, and aside from Mississippi, five states have just one clinic — Kentucky, Missouri, North and South Dakota, and West Virginia. But the latest efforts to bar the procedure represent the largest assault on abortion rights in decades.

Lawmakers sponsoring the bans have made it clear their goal is to spark court challenges in hopes of ultimately overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Those challenges have begun. Derzis’ attorneys are scheduled to go before a judge on May 21, seeking to prevent Mississippi’s heartbeat law from taking effect July 1.

A judge in Kentucky blocked enforcement of that state’s heartbeat ban after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of the clinic in Louisville.

Similar legal action is expected before bans can take effect in Ohio and Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the latest heartbeat bill into law Tuesday. Kemp said he welcomed the fight, vowing: “We will not back down.”

Georgia’s ban doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1. But the impact was immediate.

An abortion clinic operated by The Women’s Centers in Atlanta began receiving anxious calls from patients soon after Kemp signed the law. Many callers had plans to travel from outside the state for abortions. Georgia’s heartbeat ban would have a wider impact because the state has 17 abortion clinics — more than the combined total in the other four Southern states that have passed or are considering bans.

“On a typical day we will see people from North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina — all over the region,” said Dr. Lisa Haddad, the Atlanta clinic’s medical director. “And my thought is we’re not going to see those people coming here because they assume it’s already illegal in Georgia.”

Dr. Ernest Marshall, co-founder of Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic in Louisville, said in an email that banning abortions before most women know they’re pregnant would “have a disproportionate impact on poor women and communities of color throughout the South.”

Advocates for abortion rights expect judges to halt enforcement of any new bans while lawsuits work their way through the courts. That could take years.

“These laws are blatantly unconstitutional,” said Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel for state policy and advocacy for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which also has filed suit over Mississippi’s ban. “But if they were allowed to go into force, they would have devastating consequences for the residents of all of these states.”

If heartbeat bans are upheld, many women who are poor and have limited means to travel would have few options other than to try to terminate their own pregnancies, Haddad said, possibly using abortion drugs purchased online.

Others would have to drive or fly across multiple states, said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

“People would go to Florida, people would continue to go to Memphis,” Nash said. “How many states do you have to cross before you can access abortion services? It exacerbates all the issues we’ve already seen around taking time off from work and having the money to travel.”

Proposed heartbeat bans failed to pass this year in several Republican-led states, including Texas. There, GOP lawmakers lost ground to Democrats in the 2018 elections, and some abortion foes were wary after courts struck down prior abortion restrictions in the state. Such efforts also fell short in Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Alabama lawmakers postponed until next week a vote on a proposal that would make performing nearly all abortions a felony. The measure has passed the state House, and the Senate suspended debate Thursday amid a heated dispute over whether exemptions for rape and incest should be stripped from the bill.

“You can’t put a price on unborn life,” Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, said Wednesday, as a legislative committee heard testimony on the state’s proposed ban. “What you have to do is protect the people that live in this state and that includes unborn children.”

But Jenna King-Shepherd told Alabama lawmakers she believed the abortion she had at age 17 allowed her to finish college. She said her father, a part-time Baptist preacher furious about her pregnancy, drove her to the abortion clinic because he trusted her to make the right choice.

“I’m not asking you to support access to abortion,” King-Shepherd said. “I’m only asking you to let women, their families, their physicians and their God make this decision on how they want to start their families in private and trust them to do that.”

Source: NewsMax America

President Donald Trump shouldn’t be concerned that the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed his son, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Friday.

“I know the president’s upset about that, but I think he ought not to worry about it. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee has already said the committee, when it reports, will find no collusion,” McConnell said in an interview on Kentucky radio station WHAS.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., decided to subpoena Donald Trump Jr., prompting criticism from Republicans.

“There’s no need for another subpoena for [Trump Jr.] It’s time to move on & focus on issues Americans care about,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted on Thursday.

“This Intelligence Committee in the Senate, unlike the Intel Committee in the House, has not descended into partisan bickering. It’s been a largely bipartisan effort. Chairman Burr has indicated that they’ll be reporting very soon,” McConnell told WHAS, adding, “we ought to just take a deep breath and understand that this episode is coming to an end.”

Trump told reporters on Thursday that he was “very surprised” by the subpoena.

“Frankly for my son, after being exonerated, to now get a subpoena to go again and speak again after close to 20 hours of telling everybody that would listen about a nothing meeting, yeah I’m surprised,” he said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday he did not know that President Donald Trump’s oldest son, Donald Jr.,  had been subpoenaed by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, and he thinks it was “bad form” that there was no heads-up that the action was being taken.

“I have no opinion about that because he is a private citizen and not a member of the administration,” Mulvaney told CBS News’ Major Garrett in an interview for the network’s “The Takeout” podcast. “I have no difficulty with bipartisanship, but to subpoena the president of the United States son and not at least get a heads-up, I thought was  — let’s say bad form.”

Mulvaney added that he has no idea whether Trump knew his son was being subpoenaed, and that the president left for Florida for his Wednesday rally before the news broke.

Mulvaney said that as acting chief of staff, he might not have known about the subpoena because Trump Jr. is not a member of the administration, “but it would be highly unlikely that it would end up in the White House and I wouldn’t know about it. Possible, possible, but unlikely.”

Mulvaney told Garrett he doesn’t know what the allegations involve, and that he knows just from media reports that it “deals with a Trump Tower discussion or something like that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that it’s “case closed” where special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is concerned, but Mulvaney said the Kentucky Republican was likely referring to Trump, not his son.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign is selling t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Cocaine Mitch,” coined by the Kentucky senator’s challenger in the 2018 midterm elections.

McConnell’s campaign tweeted about the shirts Wednesday morning, writing, “A year ago, a legend was born. Own your piece of history. #CocaineMitch.” The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the shirt, which features a faceless man and what is purportedly supposed to be cocaine sprinkled on it.

The campaign tweeted an image of the back, writing, “Become an official member of the Cartel!”

The back of the shirt has the words “Cartel Member” printed at the top.

One year ago, McConnell’s Republican opponent Don Blankenship called him “Cocaine Mitch” because he claimed McConnell’s father-in-law’s shipping company was implicated in a cocaine smuggling ring — a claim The Washington Post gave four Pinocchios.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is declaring “case closed” on the Russia probe and potential obstruction by President Donald Trump, deriding Democrats who he says are “grieving” the result.

The Republican leader, in his most significant public comments yet on the investigation, opened the Senate Tuesday with a speech discussing how special counsel Robert Mueller’s “exhaustive” probe went on for two years and is now complete. The remarks, which are certain to please the president, are being billed as his final thoughts on the topic.

“It’s finally over,” McConnell said.

Republicans, taking their cues from Trump, are eager to push past the investigation. But the case is anything but closed for Democrats, who are pressing for further oversight of the White House and the president’s handling of the Mueller probe.

McConnell questioned if others are ready to move on from the “breathless conspiracy theorizing.”

Mueller’s results are “bad news for the outrage industrial complex but good news for the rest of the country,” the Kentucky senator said.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer shot back in his own speech immediately afterward, calling McConnell’s words an “astounding bit of whitewashing.” He challenged McConnell to move legislation that would improve election security and be tougher on Russian sanctions.

“What we have here is a concerted effort to circle the wagons, to protect the president from accountability,” Schumer said.

As McConnell says the Senate is moving on, the Democrat-led House is aggressively pursuing a copy of the full, unredacted Mueller report. Mueller released a redacted version to the public last month, but Democrats want to see the full document, plus underlying documents, and have scheduled a committee vote for Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not providing it.

On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee staff are set to meet with Justice Department officials for final negotiations before the contempt vote. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said late Monday that he hopes to make “concrete progress” toward resolving the dispute over gaining access to the report.

The contempt vote would be the opening salvo in what could be a lengthy, acrimonious court battle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over Mueller’s findings.

The movement to hold Barr in contempt reflects the deepening rift between Democrats and Barr, whom they accuse of spinning the results of Mueller’s investigation to Trump’s benefit. Barr, in a memo summarizing Mueller’s investigation , said there was insufficient evidence that Trump obstructed justice, a conclusion Democrats fiercely dispute.

Nadler said the version of Mueller’s report that has already been released to the public offered “disturbing evidence and analysis that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice at the highest levels.” Now, he said, lawmakers need the full version and the underlying evidence “to determine how to best move forward with oversight, legislation and other constitutional responsibilities.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said that the department has “taken extraordinary steps to accommodate the House Judiciary Committee’s requests for information” regarding Mueller’s report but that Nadler had not reciprocated. She noted that Democrats have refused to read a version of Mueller’s report with fewer redactions that has already been provided to Congress.

If the committee approves the contempt resolution against Barr, it would head to the full House for final approval. But that step is unlikely to lead to criminal charges. A House vote would send a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a Justice Department official who is likely to defend the attorney general.

Yet by pursuing contempt, Democrats hope to send a message to the Trump administration about their willingness to invoke congressional powers in the majority. Beyond Mueller’s report, House Democrats have, so far mostly unsuccessfully, subpoenaed administration witnesses and made efforts to gain access to Trump’s personal and business financial records. Trump has said he will block those efforts, declaring he will “fight all the subpoenas.”

Democratic House leaders could file a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department to obtain the Mueller report, an option that could take months or even years to resolve. Some committee members have suggested they also could fine Barr as he withholds the information. They could also open impeachment proceedings against Trump, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she’s not interested in doing that, for now.

Republicans have lambasted the Democratic tactics as overreach and defended Barr. The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, said “Democrats have launched a proxy war smearing the attorney general” when their anger actually lies with the president.

There is precedent for sitting attorneys general to be held in contempt of Congress. In 2012, the House held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over a botched gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious. Republicans cited the Justice Department’s failure to turn over, without any preconditions, documents related to the risky operation. The Justice Department took no action to prosecute the attorney general.

Mueller’s report — now a best-seller even in redacted form — states that his investigation could not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia. However, it did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. Mueller didn’t charge Trump but wrote that he couldn’t exonerate him, either.

House Judiciary Democrats say Congress is “the only body able to hold the president to account” since the Justice Department has a policy against indicting a sitting president.

Source: NewsMax Politics


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