The Justice Department issued a legal opinion Friday finding that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was right to withhold President Donald Trump’s tax returns from a House committee that subpoenaed them.
The House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed six years of Trump’s tax returns in May, but the Treasury Department refused to provide the documents. At the time, Mnuchin said the request lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”
he 33-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., wanted to make the president’s tax returns public and because of that plan, the request was not to carry out a legitimate legislative function.
But Neal has said the law is clear the information must be released to Congress, the documents were sought to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS is doing its job properly to audit a sitting president, and obtaining them would be a “necessary piece” of the committee’s work.
“The Chairman’s request that Treasury turn over the President’s tax returns, for the apparent purpose of making them public, amounted to an unprecedented use of the Committee’s authority and raised a serious risk of abuse,” the opinion said.
Democrats sought Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information when requested to the chairs of Congress’ tax-writing committees. Besides Trump, every president since Richard Nixon has made his tax returns public.
Neal said last month that he didn’t plan to hold Mnuchin in contempt, saying the committee may instead pursue a legal fight to force the Treasury Department to turn over the documents.
A spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee said the legal opinion was still being reviewed and declined to comment further. Representatives for the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Image Credit: AP
Source: The Washington Pundit
President Trump’s campaign all but called David Bossie a fraudster in a rare public rebuke. But after weeks out of the spotlight, the informal presidential adviser is said to be on track to return to Trump’s good graces.
Trump erupted last month after a report that a Bossie-led group raised millions but spent little on political activity. Some donors said the group’s presidential emblems and Pennsylvania Avenue address made them think they were giving to Trump’s campaign.
Allies of Bossie, who served as a Trump deputy campaign manager in 2016, contend his reputation was besmirched by rivals vying for influence, an argument they made in response to a stinging press release from Trump’s 2020 campaign.
One former White House official said they heard last week from an “important” source that “matters have been patched up.” Other sources said they were unaware of whether Trump and Bossie reconciled but said they expect it to happen.
“They will be fine, but don’t get carried away here,” a senior White House official said, casting doubt on whether Bossie and Trump already returned to good terms.
Trump’s break with Bossie, the longtime leader of Citizens United, came after a report from the Campaign Legal Center that the Bossie-led Presidential Coalition group raised $18.5 million in 2017 and 2018 but spent just $425,000 on political activities.
The little-known group spent much of its money on fundraising, along with a six-figure salary for Bossie. Additional funds went toward copies of Bossie’s book Trump’s Enemies, which he co-authored with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
In a scathing statement, Trump’s 2020 campaign called for “the appropriate authorities” to investigate, saying: “There is no excuse for any group, including ones run by people who claim to be part of our ‘coalition,’ to suggest they directly support President Trump’s re-election or any other candidates, when in fact their actions show they are interested in filling their own pockets with money from innocent Americans’ paychecks, and sadly, retirements.”
“The president was livid when he learned about what David Bossie’s group was doing,” a source close to the Trump campaign told the Washington Examiner last month. “He thought it was unconscionable to trick people into thinking they were donating to the Trump campaign when they were not.”
A Bossie ally offered a different perspective, which could allow for Bossie’s return to Trump’s orbit, as is often seen with fired former aides, with the possible exception of Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist who accused Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. of treason.
“I don’t think there’s any ill will at all on the president’s part,” said the Bossie ally. “I don’t think there is any ill will whatsoever. I think the president recognizes all the work that Dave and his group have done over time, and continue to do.”
The ally said Bossie’s group spent money during Supreme Court confirmation battles for Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and that Bossie has a long personal history with Trump.
“Dave has been one of the closest friends to both Mr. Trump, candidate Trump and President Trump that he has in Washington, D.C. And the president knows that and respects Dave Bossie and all the work he has done to get him elected and support his agenda,” he said. “Long before he ran for office, Donald Trump was calling Dave Bossie, asking for his opinion and advice.”
The ally blamed the blowup on people “who don’t want to see [Trump] continue talking to those individuals who have his best interests in mind” and who “want to isolate individuals who he has relied on and seeks advice and counsel from.”
One person familiar with the dynamics of Trump’s relationships with former advisers said they suspect the harsh rebuke may give the relationship a longer pause, but that “almost assuredly [a reconciliation] happens in the long term.”
Spokespeople for the White House and Trump’s reelection campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The IRS declined to comment on a potential investigation into the tax exempt 527 organization, saying it was prohibited by law from commenting on specific tax filers, and Fox News did not respond to an inquiry about Bossie’s absence from previously routine network appearances.
Bossie did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
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.
Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen told CNN on Monday that he believes President Trump should wear a scarlet “I” because he is marked for impeachment and that his oath of office requires him to support it.
“I think my district is for impeachment. I took an oath. I believe my oath requires me to be for impeachment because this president has committed impeachable offenses, and I think it’s the duty of the House to bring those,” Cohen said.
Cohen said there needs to be more hearings on Robert Mueller’s reports, such as Monday’s hearing with former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, to help make the case for impeaching Trump.
“But if it went to the Senate and they had a little trial, even though Mitch McConnell has already said ‘case closed,’ I think the senators who did not vote to convict after evidence was adduced would be vulnerable in their own elections come the fall, even in red states, because I think the opinion is going to — the tide is going to turn on the opinion, just like it did in Watergate,” he said.
“But the main reason I’m interested is not so much to win the Senate, which is a byproduct. It’s because I think he’s committed impeachable offenses and needs a scarlet ‘I’ on his chest, and that’s what I think we should do,” Cohen said.
At the opening of Dean’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, he said: “The last time I appeared before your committee was July 11, 1974, during the impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon. Clearly, I am not here today as a fact witness. I accepted the invitation to come here today because I hope I can give a little historical perspective on the Mueller report.”
Dean was convicted for his role in helping cover up the break-in into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at Watergate hotel.
Editors Note: This article is not an endorsement of The Proud Boys or their philosophy or tactics. It is merely an example of how the left actively works to silence conservative voices.
In a recent podcast episode, independent journalist Tim Pool, discussed a leaked email he received that appears to show a prominent left-wing journalist coercing Chase Bank into demonetizing a political opposition group known as The Proud Boys.
“What you see on your screen right now is an email from a Slate Jounalist named April Glaser…This email, in my opinion, shows the tactics of activists in media to deplatform their political rivals through loaded questions and language meant to create maximum pressure and the cost of businesses to work with certain political groups.”
At first, Pool was hesitant to name the journalist and had originally redacted her name, but felt that it was necessary to reveal the email’s author in order to show how her articles and tweets she’s suggest her bias towards regulating conservative groups on platforms like YouTube and Facebook. He even identified one article written by Glaser that suggests her specific intention was to get The Proud Boys shut down by having their financial services terminated. Glaser has since made her Twitter account private and has allegedly been deleting tweets that depict her bias.
The email in question was sent by Glaser to three different people (emails redacted), two of whom were at JP Morgan and one at Chase. The email reads:
I’m April, a journalist at Slate. Writing to ask if JP Morgan Chase is aware that the Proud Boys affiliated online store 1776.shop uses Chase Paymentech as its payment proecessor. 1776 shop is what’s redirected from FundTheWest.org which Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes cited as the legal defense fund of the Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys are designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group and members have engaged in group violence in Portland and New York City. The group has been suspended by Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Is the usage of Chase Paymentech in support of such groups against Chases’ policy? On a deadline.
Pool argues that rather than being a journalist, Glaser is in
fact an activist whose email used framing tactics designed to coerce action
from its recipients. In this case, Glaser
subversively hinted that she was going to accuse Chase of supporting a “SPLC
designated hate group” in an article if they didn’t disenfranchise themselves
from The Proud Boys.
In a statement to DC Clothesline, Pool states:
“Following the Vox controversy with Steven Crowder, or #VoxAdpocalypse, and mass censorship hitting YouTube I found it pertinent to show how these activists in media operate and how they use framing devices to target people like conservatives and other political groups.
The reporter in question has advocated for government regulation to restrict speech and I believe this shows her to be an activist acting to target and cause harm to political rivals. The email was confirmed to me by Chase bank on two occasions and the contents of the email were referred to in my correspondence with Slate. While not directly confirming the email I believe this with Chase bank’s confirmation is sufficient to confirm the authenticity of the email.”
Slate has since provided an official
statement defending Glaser’s actions:
“In the course of her reporting about banks providing financial services for 1776.shop, an e-commerce site associated with the Proud Boys, April reached out to those banks for comment about their policies of providing services to a designated hate group. In both her email and in the subsequent reporting, April provided important context and we stand by her reporting on this newsworthy topic.”
Further evidence of Glaser’s activist tendencies can be found in her own proclamation on Twitter (and reported by Information Liberation) that she wrote Google last year to complain that the top search results for abortion on YouTube were pro-life videos she deemed ‘dangerous misinformation”. She stated, “YouTube changed the results after I asked.” She went on to write a negative story on how the YouTube results were anti-abortion “gory videos rife with misinformation.” Several prominent conservative personalities wondered why Google was kowtowing to a single journalist’s request.
Enrique “Henry” Tarrio, Chairman of The Proud Boys, told Pool that their online store 1776.shop, which was a platform that allowed various groups to sell t-shirts, mugs and hats to raise money for charity, was dropped by Chase on February 1, 2019, just one day after Ms. Glaser’s email was sent to company execs. Tarrio’s personal accounts at Chase, were also closed. Paypal and Square also severed ties with the online store on the same day. It is presumed that Ms. Glaser may have emailed them as well, in doing research for her story on banks providing financial services.
Ms Glaser, did release her article about 7 days after her emails to JP Morgan Chase, suggesting that her deadline was longer than she had let on in the email. On February 7th, Slate published her article entitled The Swag Shop for the Far Right, a stunning piece on how Square, Paypal and Chase had just pulled their services on the online store. It seems pretty obvious that this was the story she was going for and not a general story about ‘banks providing their financial services’ as Slate would have us believe.
Source: The Washington Pundit
Olli Heinonen, who headed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) security team and served as the organizations’ deputy director general, on Wednesday morning told Army Radio that Israelis on the whole are not aware of the severity of the Iranian threat.
“Israelis need to be worried, and the Gulf states also have reason for concern,” Heinonen said. “How will you be able to ensure your security if Iran achieves nuclear abilities?”
In the full interview, which will be aired Thursday morning, Heinonen said that despite IAEA’s claims, Iran can develop nuclear weapons in up to six to eight months.
Slamming IAEA’s handling of the threat, Heinonen said the agency ignores Tehran’s race to achieve nuclear weapons. In his opinion, even the Trump administration’s decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or “Iran deal” serves Iran’s purposes.
(Bloomberg Opinion) — This is the moment the U.S. technology superpowers surely knew was coming: The U.S. government is preparing to crawl all over Google to figure out whether it is an abusive monopolist. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and the other tech giants should be quaking in their fleece vests.
Bloomberg News and other news organizations reported late Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to open an investigation into Google’s compliance with antitrust laws. If it goes forward, an investigation will no doubt be broad, lengthy, messy, and impossible for Google and its investors to predict.
That should terrify Google and every other big technology company — because there’s no guarantee that the antitrust Klieg light will turn on one company alone.
This isn’t Google’s first antitrust rodeo. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2013 closed without further action its own antitrust investigation into whether Google wielded its dominant web search engine like a cudgel to disadvantage rivals, drive up prices for advertisers and ultimately harm consumers. (Google did agree to some voluntary changes.)
And in recent years, the European Union antitrust watchdog imposed billions of dollars in fines after finding antitrust violations, including over how Google conducted business with its Android smartphone software and its internet shopping service. In the U.S. and elsewhere, politicians from all party stripes have sought to attack Google or other tech giants for various perceived sins, including being too big for the good of industry and consumers. Being Google has meant dealing with perennial regulatory and political nightmares.
This latest chapter of “As Google Turns” may have started in January on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers,” Bill Barr, now the U.S. attorney general, said to U.S. senators during a confirmation hearing. The DOJ’s chief antitrust enforcer, who represented Google during a merger more than a decade ago, has expressed similar views.
Antitrust investigations are difficult to predict, of course. Once the U.S. government pores over every internal email and business development contract, there’s no telling what it will turn up. If the DOJ moves ahead, it will also be an open invitation for every company or individual with a gripe against Google to pile on, and an investigation will embolden critics of Facebook, Amazon and other tech giants as well.
It’s worth remembering that Google narrowly escaped a possible antitrust lawsuit the last time the U.S. looked closely. Portions of communications between FTC commissioners and staff later showed that staffers wanted to bring an antitrust lawsuit on a few matters including on what they said was Google’s strong-arm tactics to scrape information from websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor without their permission to improve Google’s search engine. Ultimately the FTC commissioners unanimously voted not to pursue a lawsuit and possibly a breakup of what was then a smaller Google.
That was a different regulatory agency during the administration of President Barack Obama, which was considered relatively cozy with Google. The current White House has been openly critical of Google, largely over bogus claims that it and some other tech companies unfairly suppress conservative voices online.
Washington is much different than it was in 2013, and sentiment in the capitol and beyond has soured as U.S. technology superstars have grown even larger and more dominant. An investigation of Google is likely to be politically popular on both the left and the right. The politics and the optics aren’t in Google’s favor. Now we’ll see – again – whether the law is against the company as well.
To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Gray at email@example.com
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
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FILE PHOTO: The flags of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are seen on a lectern before a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
May 31, 2019
By David Alire Garcia and David Ljunggren
MEXICO CITY/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Mexico and Canada said on Friday they would proceed with plans to ratify a new continental trade pact despite a new threat from U.S. President Donald Trump that critics say could undermine chances of the treaty coming into force.
Trump, whose administration has made passing the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement a priority, unexpectedly said on Thursday he would slap tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico unless a surge of illegal immigrants ceased.
Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the move undermined the relationship with Canada and Mexico.
“This is definitely a roadblock to securing passage of USMCA,” he told CNN.
Trump made his threat the same day that Vice President Mike Pence visited Ottawa and said he was pushing to get the U.S. Congress to ratify the deal this summer after both Canada and Mexico moved to start the approval process this week.
The news rocked markets and prompted a flurry of protests from Mexican and U.S. business groups.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters on Friday that ratification efforts would continue.
“The opinion of the Executive is that the process of ratification of the treaty continues, that we comply with the commitments that were made and that we finish soon approving the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” he said.
The Mexican and Canadian governments appeared unclear as to how serious Trump might actually be. The USMCA was agreed last year after 15 months of sometimes acrimonious negotiations marked by episodes of U.S. brinkmanship.
“It is a little strange, to say the least, that he decides to resolve the issue of immigration using tariffs,” Mexico’s Deputy Economy Minister Luz Maria de la Mora said in an interview on Friday.
Canada and Mexico both ship more than 75 percent of all their goods exports to the United States and are heavily reliant on free trade.
“Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country,” said U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.
In Ottawa, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland declined to comment on what she described as a bilateral issue between the United States and Mexico.
“Our intention is, in so far as possible, to move in tandem with our partners,” she told reporters.
Canada moved to ratify the deal by formally presenting it to parliament on Wednesday.
Roland Paris, former foreign policy advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said there was no reason for Ottawa to react immediately to Trump’s latest move given that Mexico was seeking clarification from Washington.
“That said, Trump’s new threats are a reminder that we will need to remain vigilant, because negotiations for him never seem to be final,” he said in an interview.
A Canadian source with direct knowledge of the situation said Ottawa was aware that Trump had not always followed through with previous threats to impose tariffs on trading partners.
(Graphic on border crossings and cross-border trade: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Khd82D).
(Additional reporting by Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City, Chris Prentice, Susan Cornwell and Brice Makini in Washington and Kelsey Johnson and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by James Dalgleish)
The actor made her comments while taking part in a Q&A for the upcoming second season of acclaimed television show Big Little Lies, in which Streep is a new cast member.
During the talk, which was hosted by Vanity Fair, Streep addressed the topic of toxic masculinity while discussing an anecdote about a male fan who had told Nicole Kidman that he enjoyed the show.
The three-time Oscar winner explained that she dislikes the term because, in her opinion, all individuals can exhibit toxic behaviour, regardless of gender.
“Sometimes I think we’re hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. I do,” Streep said. “And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together … because women can be pretty f***ing toxic.”
“It’s toxic people,” the Suffragette star said. “We have our good angles and we have our bad ones.”
Streep added that she thinks labels can be “less helpful” than direct communication when calling out detrimental behaviour.
“We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work,” she said.
Toxic masculinity refers to certain behaviours and attitudes commonly associated with men that are perceived as being harmful, such as repressing emotion and acting in an aggressive manner.
The Good Men Project, an initiative which aims to encourage an “international conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century”, describes toxic masculinity as a form of manhood that’s “defined by violence, sex, status and aggression”.
“One of the ways that masculinity sometimes manifests is through toxic behaviour which ultimately ends in violence, and that violence either is enacted on men themselves, or on other people,” said Tom Ross-Williams, an activist and ambassador for school workshop project the Great Men Project, which is run by gender equality organisation the Good Lad Initiative.
“I think it’s a process of micro-aggressions that escalate to a point where violence is enacted on the world.”
For all the latest news on the second season of Big Little Lies, click here.