The progressive organization Indivisible has asked the 20 candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination to sign a pledge vowing to support the eventual nominee, BuzzFeed News reports.
Indivisible posted the pledge on their website last Tuesday. It states:
“We must defeat [President] Donald Trump. The first step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee. The second step is winning the general election. We will not accept anything less.”
The group then lists three pledges: to “make the primary constructive” by focusing on issues and ideas, to “rally behind the winner,” and support the eventual nominee “whoever it is,” and to “do the work to beat Trump” by agreeing to help the Democratic nominee’s campaign.
As of Thursday morning, no candidate has signed the pledge, although the candidates did sign a pledge issued by the Democratic National Committee vowing to identify as members of the Democratic Party, to “run as a Democrat” and to “serve as a Democrat if elected.”
Source: NewsMax America
FILE PHOTO: Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi meets supporters in Khartoum, Sudan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo
April 25, 2019
By Michael Georgy and Khaled Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan could face a counter coup if military rulers and the opposition do not reach agreement on a handover of power to civilians, leading opposition figure and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi said on Thursday.
Mahdi, Sudan’s last democratically elected premier, said hardliners in ousted president Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) and its allies in the army would try to exploit the uncertainty to seize power.
“For them to attempt a counter coup is most probable. All the time they are conspiring,” Mahdi, 83, said in an interview with Reuters at his sprawling villa surrounded by gardens in the capital Khartoum.
“The whole group is well versed in conspiracy. The conspiratorial mind is ingrained in them.”
Mahdi, who studied at Britain’s Oxford University, was himself overthrown in a bloodless coup by Bashir in 1989.
Bashir fell after weeks of mass demonstrations and the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the main protest organizer, called for a million-strong march to take place later on Thursday to press for civilian rule.
Mahdi predicted that Sudan’s generals would relinquish power if the current stalemate were broken.
“I think their intentions are good,” he said of the senior army officers who overthrew Bashir on April 11, three decades after he himself seized power, and then formed the TMC.
“They are not interested in a military government,” he said, an outcome which the African Union has said would be unacceptable.
The spokesman for Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) said later on Thursday it would retain “sovereign authority only” while civilians hold the post of prime minister and head all government ministries.
On Wednesday, the opposition and the TMC agreed to form a committee to resolve their disagreements, amid tensions over how long it would take to move to civilian government in Sudan, where widespread impoverishment has been entrenched by systemic financial mismanagement, corruption and cronyism.
The generals have offered some concessions, sacking some officials, announcing the arrest of others, including two of Bashir’s brothers, and ordering steps to curb fraud.
But they have insisted that, while they are willing to accept a civilian transitional government, ultimate authority will remain in their hands until elections are held up to two years from now.
Mahdi’s moderate Islamic Umma party is engaged in the negotiations. Asked if he was interested in ruling Sudan now, Mahdi said: “I will not take part in government until and unless we have elections.”
As two bodyguards stood by, he reflected on the turbulent history of Sudan under Bashir including multiple armed rebellions, economic crises and allegations of war crimes in Darfur, Mahdi recalled what he said was the day that the Islamist Bashir began leading Sudan to failure.
“I was praying at home. Dawn prayers. And they surrounded my house,” he said of the 1989 coup which took him completely by surprise. “I think they wanted to kill me. To capture me and pretend I had tried to escape or resisted.”
After Mahdi was initially jailed, he said he was taken to a what he described as a ghost house. Three men confronted him.
“You can save yourself if you record here that democracy has failed,” he quoted them as saying. “They wanted me to give legitimacy to their coup.”
He refused. “They took me back to an execution cell.” For the next two years he was jailed and put under house arrest.
Mahdi said he had met with intelligence chief Salah Gosh and acting NCP chairman Ahmed Haroun on April 10, the day before Bashir was ousted, after they asked to see him.
The two men threatened to use force to disperse a protester sit-in outside the Defense Ministry, he said. Mahdi said he told them he would join the sit-in to help protect the protesters.
“At this point Haroun said, ‘You will not find them because they will be crushed,’” said Mahdi.
Reuters could not independently verify this account. Gosh could not be reached for comment, while Haroun was arrested and jailed after Bashir’s removal.
Bashir is now languishing in the same, high-security Kobar prison where he sent Mahdi 30 years ago, and where the veteran autocrat held thousands of political detainees. “Kobar is a collection of who’s who in Sudanese politics,” said Mahdi.
(Reporting by Michael Georgy and Khalid Abdelaziz; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves towards his supporters during a roadshow in Varanasi, India, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
April 25, 2019
By Devjyot Ghoshal
VARANASI, India (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi staged a show of strength on Thursday in his home city of Varanasi, one of the most sacred places for India’s majority Hindu population, as the country’s 39-day staggered general election neared its mid-point.
Dotted with ancient temples and sitting on the banks of the Ganges river, Varanasi was one of two seats that Modi fought and won at the last election in 2014. He has so far chosen to represent Varanasi in parliament and is not likely to pursue any other seat.
Surrounded by tens of thousands of supporters, Modi, who is seeking a second term as premier, bowed to the crowd with folded hands from an elevated podium.
He then toured the city in an SUV, standing to greet supporters through the sunroof. His security forces prevented the crowd from getting too close even as the vehicle moved slowly through the narrow alleys.
Modi was accompanied by senior BJP leaders, including the party President Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, where Varanasi is located. The northern state is India’s most populous and has the largest number of MPs. In 2014, the BJP won 71 seats there out of 80.
Modi is expected to file his nomination papers on Friday.
India’s election is being held over 39 days from April 11 to May 19, with votes due to be counted on May 23. Varanasi will vote on the last day.
Modi’s supporters talked up his achievements in bringing clean water, sanitation and electricity to more of India.
“The city has become clean. There is electricity 24 hours now, and there is water,” said 55-year-old Shyam Narayan Naik.
“No other party will be able to win here,” added Narayan, who runs a textile shop in the city that was shut on Thursday as Modi’s 5 kilometer-long roadshow passed by.
The city was decorated with BJP flags and saffron-colored balloons. Sounds of drums and songs praising Modi grew louder as the prime minister arrived.
Supporters wore “Namo Again” t-shirts or masks with Modi’s photograph, while others dressed as Hindu gods and goddesses.
“I think this time he’s trying to send the signal that he’s now far more confident, he doesn’t need the Gujarat seat and therefore he’s standing only from UP,” said Sudha Pai, referring to the other seat Modi won and gave up in 2014. Pai, a former political science professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, closely tracks politics in Uttar Pradesh.
But weak jobs growth, distressed farm incomes because of low crop prices, and charges of economic mismanagement have boosted the opposition. And in Uttar Pradesh, two formidable regional parties have allied to take on the BJP.
Modi often refers to “Mother Ganga” in his speeches, and his government has committed nearly $3 billion of funds to a five-year clean-up of the heavily polluted sacred river.
That program is due to be completed in 2020.
But last year, Reuters found that only a tenth of the funds had been used in the first two years of the project.
“It is what it was before. Nothing has changed. People are just using Modi to make money themselves,” said 70-year old Ramji, referring to the money spent on cleaning the Ganges.
(Editing by Martin Howell and Catherine Evans)
Former Vice President Joe Biden is running into immediate headwinds from some progressive Democrats from the party’s left wing as he launches his 2020 presidential bid.
A group aligned with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Justice Democrats says in a lengthy statement that Biden is a centrist Democrat who could “divide the party.” It says Biden could squelch progressive enthusiasm for policies like single-payer healthcare and a Green New Deal.
The group said Thursday the “old guard” already failed to defeat President Donald Trump in 2016 and cannot be counted on to excite the base in 2020. But the statement still notes that Justice Democrats will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination next year.
Biden joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest on Thursday morning, declaring the “soul of this nation” at stake if Trump wins re-election.
Source: NewsMax Politics
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacts during a roadshow in Varanasi, India, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
April 25, 2019
By Rajendra Jadhav
NASHIK, India (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party and a Hindu nationalist ally face a big electoral challenge in the critical western state of Maharashtra where rural distress, unemployment and drought may hurt Modi’s bid for a second term.
Strategists already expect Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lose ground in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh in the north, as voting is underway in a general election that began on April 11 and ends on May 19.
That coupled with possible losses in Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and the second most seats in parliament after Uttar Pradesh, would make it harder for the BJP-led coalition to win a governing majority, they say.
The BJP and its regional ally, Shiv Sena, won 41 of 48 seats in Maharashtra in the 2014 election. There are 545 seats in the lower house of parliament.
How rural India votes will largely determine the outcome. Nearly two-thirds of its 1.3 billion people live in the towns and villages in the countryside.
Only a few weeks ago, Modi appeared to have turned back the opposition tide in Maharashtra with his tough line on Pakistan after Islamist militants based there killed 40 Indian police in a suicide attack in the disputed Kashmir region.
Modi ordered an air strike on a suspected militant camp in Pakistan, and doubled down on security as a campaign issue.
“In March, it looked like the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra had an edge due to the air strikes,” said Pratap Asbe, a political commentator based in Mumbai.
“But in the past few weeks the opposition has seized on issues such as unemployment and lower crop prices that have hurt voters,” he said.
Reuters interviewed 148 farmers from 11 districts in the state in March and April, and nearly two-thirds said their incomes had fallen and they blamed the government for not doing enough to support crop prices.
The BJP-led state government’s slow response to the farm crisis has inflamed the anti-incumbency mood ahead of a state election due by October, Abse said.
Protests by farmers in the state have grown in the last two years as crop prices plunged, while some gave up hope.
There were 3,661 farm suicides in Maharashtra in 2016, nearly a third of the national toll that year, according to government data. Recent numbers are not available.
The farm crisis is acutely felt in the sugar industry.
Sugar mills in the state, India’s second-biggest producer of sugar, cotton and soybeans, have run up a record $614.8 million in arrears to cane farmers due to poor sales amid a sugar glut.
“Sugar mills are not paying government-mandated prices for cane and have also been delaying payments for months,” said Madhav Pawase, a farmer in Nashik district, nearly 175 km (110 miles) north of Mumbai.
Modi’s administration has done little to ensure mills pay the right price to farmers on time, added Pawase, who voted for Shiv Sena in the 2014 election.
Poor rains have added to farmers’ woes. Rainfall in the state was 23 percent below normal in 2018, wilting crops and causing water shortages.
Farmers say the government is reluctant to open cattle shelters where livestock can get free water and fodder.
The lack of jobs is also major issue for voters in Maharashtra, where competition for government positions has fueled community tensions.
The state’s dominant Maratha community has organized protests and shutdowns, including marches to Mumbai in recent years, to demand that government posts are reserved for them.
“There are no jobs today. We want a government that will create jobs,” said Akash Phalke, a mechanical engineer who has spent the past two years looking for a job.
Shiv Sena is one of the BJP’s oldest allies, but they have long squabbled over how to share power. Shiv Sena had said it would contest this general election alone, but agreed just before the polls to another tie up with the BJP.
However, it’s not clear if BJP and Shiv Sena cadres have embraced the renewed alliance on the campaign trail, said Sunil Chawake, a senior assistant editor at the Maharashtra Times newspaper.
“The lower level workers of both parties have grudges against each other and don’t work together cohesively,” he said.
The partnership between the opposition Congress party and its Maharashtra ally, the Nationalist Congress Party, is more watertight, Chawake said.
The opposition also got a boost when a regional party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, decided to sit out the general election and its leader Raj Thackeray began campaigning against the BJP.
“Thackeray has been propelling the winning chances of the opposition in Mumbai and the adjourning areas,” said Asbe.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Martin Howell and Darren Schuettler)
The United States is in the middle of a cyberwar, but President Donald Trump is compromised and the “federal government is asleep at the switch,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Thursday while insisting that President Donald Trump’s tax returns will be released through a subpoena rather than leaked.
“That will be the product of a subpoena process,” Perez told CNN’s “New Day,” after he was asked if a candidate will use the documents if they are leaked. “We are entitled to that. If you look at the law that Chairman [Richard] Neal of the House Ways and Means Committee is using, it’s clear.”
However, he added that the DNC and the party are working to protect its data and working with all their campaigns to provide cybersecurity training, because “we can’t expect help from the administration.”
The tactics of cyberattacks aren’t about “right versus left,” but instead, “right versus wrong,” insisted Perez.
“A foreign adversary, Russia, they hacked the DNC and others,” said Perez. “They did so with the intent to interfere with our presidential election. What we said in the letter is when we have such activity, if someone calls and tells you ‘I’m going to rob a bank,’ your response should be ‘I’m going to call the authorities.’
When Russian called President Donald Trump’s campaign and said they had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, they should have called the authorities, he continued.
Meanwhile, Perez said the committee is welcoming former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced his presidential candidacy on Thursday, to the race.
“The video was very powerful,” said Perez. “As he points out, this is a battle for the soul of our nation.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
With the entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden into the 2020 Democratic presidential contest on Thursday, the field is largely set, with all the big names included.
The sprawling Democratic field features candidates ranging from 37 to 77 years old; liberals and moderates; senators, governors and mayors; and an unprecedented number of women and minorities. Democrats view the upcoming election as a must-win, and they’re looking to nominate someone who is their best hope to beat President Donald Trump.
Here are the 20 candidates:
Best known for: Being former President Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2017 and U.S. senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009.
Biggest strength: He’s well-known nationally and popular in some places Democrats have lost recently, such as working-class swing states Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, his birthplace.
Biggest weakness: Biden would be the oldest person ever elected president, with a nearly five-decade record for opponents to comb through, at a time many in his party are clamoring for a new generation to take the reins. The notoriously chatty former senator also tends to commit verbal gaffes and faced recent accusations by some women of uninvited, though nonsexual, touching.
Best known for: Serving as mayor of Newark and, currently, U.S. senator from New Jersey. He made headlines last year during his self-proclaimed “‘I am Spartacus’ moment” as he flouted Senate rules against disclosing confidential documents during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation fight.
Biggest strength: His optimistic, unity-first attitude could resonate at a time of deep political divisions.
Biggest weakness: Trying to convince voters that he’s tough enough to take on Trump.
Best known for: Serving as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and being a former Naval intelligence officer.
Biggest strength: He’s won over voters and many skeptics with his intelligence and an articulate yet plain-spoken speaking style. He’s also shown an ability to inspire voters of different ages with a message of hope and “a new generation of leadership” and has been able to raise millions more than many of his Democratic rivals.
Biggest weakness: His youth and lack of political experience — his only public office has been leading the community of about 100,000 people — will give some voters pause. He also will need to ramp up his campaign operations and do more to appeal to minority voters in order to maintain his early momentum.
Best Known for: Serving as Health and Human Services secretary during President Barack Obama’s second term and as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, for five years.
Biggest strength: His youthfulness and status as the only Latino in the race could help him win the votes of Democrats looking for a new face of their party.
Biggest weakness: His fundraising lags well behind other contenders.
Best known for: Being a former congressman from Maryland.
Biggest strength: He has rolled out a rural-focus policy that includes proposals to strengthen family farmers and rural infrastructure, a plan that could play well in the battleground Rust Belt states won by Trump.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition.
Best known for: Serving as a U.S. representative for Hawaii; the first American Samoan and first Hindu to be elected to Congress.
Biggest strength: Her military service in Iraq and Kuwait with the Hawaii National Guard.
Biggest weakness: She has been criticized for traveling to Syria in 2017 to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been accused of war crimes and even genocide. She was also forced to apologize for her past work advocating against gay rights.
Best known for: The senator from New York is one of her chamber’s most vocal members on issues of sexual harassment, military sexual assault, equal pay for women and family leave.
Biggest strength: Not being afraid to defy her own party in the #MeToo era, calling early for Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s resignation over sexual misconduct allegations and saying Bill Clinton should have voluntary left the presidency over an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Biggest weakness: Sluggish campaign fundraising in the wake of some unpleasant #MeToo headlines of her own, with Gillibrand acknowledging there were “post-investigation human errors” made when her Senate office investigated allegations of sexual misconduct against various staffers.
Best known for: The former California attorney general is now the junior U.S. senator from California, known for her rigorous questioning of Trump’s nominees.
Biggest strength: As the one black woman in the race, she’s able to tap into networks like historically black colleges and universities and her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority that haven’t been fully realized before.
Biggest weakness: Her prosecutorial record has come under scrutiny amid a push for criminal justice reform.
Best known for: Being a quirky brewpub owner who became a politician late in life, rising to governor of Colorado.
Biggest strength: An unorthodox political persona and successful electoral track record in a swing state. He’s one of the few governors in a race heavy with senators and D.C. stalwarts.
Biggest weakness: He’s previously joked that he was too centrist to win the Democratic nomination. As governor he disappointed some environmentalists by not regulating the energy industry more. He’s another white male baby boomer in a party filled with younger and more diverse candidates that better reflect its base.
Best known for: Being governor of Washington state and a former congressman.
Biggest strength: His campaign emphasis is on combating climate change, which he frames as an economic opportunity in addition to a moral imperative.
Biggest weakness: He risks being labeled a one-issue candidate.
Best known for: The three-term Minnesota senator raised her national profile during a Senate committee hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when she asked him whether he had ever had so much to drink that he didn’t remember what happened. He replied, “Have you?”
Biggest strength: She’s known as a pragmatic lawmaker willing to work with Republicans to get things done, a quality that’s helped her win across Minnesota, including in rural areas that supported Trump in 2016. She says her Midwestern sensibilities would help Democrats reclaim critical battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Michigan.
Biggest weakness: Her pragmatism may work against her in a primary, as Democratic voters increasingly embrace more liberal policies and positions. There have also been news reports that she has mistreated staff.
Best known for: Serving as the mayor of Miramar, Florida, and playing on the Florida State University Seminoles’ 1993 national championship football team.
Biggest strength: He touts his mayoral experience balancing government regulations needed to protect the environment while allowing room for companies to prosper.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition and funding.
Best known for: The Massachusetts congressman and Iraq War veteran gained national attention for helping lead an effort within the party to reject Nancy Pelosi as House speaker after Democrats regained control of the chamber.
Biggest strength: Military and congressional experience.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, late start on the fundraising necessary to qualify for the summer debate stage.
Best known for: The former congressman narrowly lost the 2018 Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz in Texas, the country’s largest conservative state.
Biggest strength: A do-it-yourself campaign style that packs lots of travel and multiple events into long days and encourages off-the-cuff discussions with voters that still allow O’Rourke to talk up his days as a onetime punk rock guitarist and his love for his home on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Biggest weakness: He’s longer on enthusiasm and vague, bipartisan optimism than actual policy ideas, and the style-over-substance approach could see O’Rourke’s strong early fundraising slip once the curiosity begins to fade.
Best known for: The Ohio congressman made an unsuccessful bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader in 2016.
Biggest strength: Ryan has touted himself as a candidate who can bridge Democrats’ progressive and working-class wings to win the White House.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, late start on grassroots fundraising.
Best known for: A 2016 presidential primary campaign against Hillary Clinton that laid the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the Trump era.
Biggest strength: The Vermont senator, who identifies himself as a democratic socialist, generated progressive energy that fueled his insurgent 2016 campaign and the best fundraising numbers of any Democrat so far.
Biggest weakness: Expanding his appeal beyond his largely white base of supporters.
Best known for: The California congressman is a frequent guest on cable news criticizing President Donald Trump.
Biggest strength: Media savvy and youthfulness could appeal to young voters.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, late start on grassroots fundraising.
Best known for: The senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard University law professor whose calls for greater consumer protections led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under then-President Barack Obama.
Biggest strength: Warren has presented a plethora of progressive policy ideas, including eliminating existing student loan debt for millions of Americans, breaking up farming monopolies and mammoth technology firms, implementing a “wealth tax” on households with high net worth and providing universal child care.
Biggest weakness: She is viewed as one of the most liberal candidates in the Democratic field, which could hurt her chances among moderates. Her policy-heavy approach also risks alienating voters at a time when other candidates are appealing to hearts as much as to minds.
Best known for: Best-selling author and spiritual leader.
Biggest strength: Outsider who could draw interest from voters who are fans of her books.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, little political experience.
Best known for: Entrepreneur who has generated buzz with his signature proposal for universal basic income to give every American $1,000 a month, no strings attached.
Biggest strength: Robust policy agenda, tech savvy.
Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, no political experience.
Source: NewsMax Politics
The U.S. Capitol building is seen through flowers in Washington, U.S., April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
April 25, 2019
By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) – The U.S. Congress does not arrest and detain people for ignoring its subpoenas anymore, but it still has significant power to demand witnesses and documents, and Republican President Donald Trump is putting that power to the test.
“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
In another display of his disregard for Washington norms, Trump is defying subpoenas issued by Democrats in the House of Representatives, who have launched numerous investigations of him, his businesses, family and administration.
He earlier this week filed an unprecedented lawsuit seeking to block a congressional subpoena intended to force an accounting firm to disclose information about his financial dealings as a businessman.
Here is how the congressional subpoena, contempt and enforcement process works.
What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a legally enforceable demand for documents, data, or witness testimony. In Latin, “sub poena” means “under penalty.”
Subpoenas are typically used by litigants in court cases. The Supreme Court has also recognized Congress’s power to issue subpoenas, saying in order to write laws it also needs to be able to investigate.
Congress’ power to issue subpoenas, while broad, is not unlimited. The high court has said Congress is not a law enforcement agency, and cannot investigate someone purely to expose wrongdoing or damaging information about them for political gain. A subpoena must potentially further some “legitimate legislative purpose,” the court has said.
What can Congress do to a government official who ignores one?
If lawmakers want to punish someone who ignores a congressional subpoena they typically first hold the offender “in contempt of Congress,” legal experts said.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said on Tuesday that his panel will vote on holding a former White House security director, Carl Kline, in contempt for failing to appear for questioning. The committee wants to ask him about allegations that the Trump administration inappropriately granted clearances to some of the president’s advisers.
The contempt process can start in either the House or the Senate. Unlike with legislation, it only takes one of the chambers to make and enforce a contempt citation.
Typically, the members of the congressional committee that issued the subpoena will vote on whether to move forward with a contempt finding. If a majority supports the resolution, then another vote will be held by the entire chamber.
The Democrats have majority control of the House; Trump’s Republican Party holds the Senate. So any contempt finding in months ahead is likely to come from the House.
Only a majority of the 435-member House needs to support a contempt finding for one to be reached. After a contempt vote, Congress has additional powers to enforce a subpoena.
Ross Garber, a lawyer in Washington, said Trump’s lawyers will likely argue that any subpoenas and contempt citations issued now expire when a new Congress is seated in January 2021.
But Washington lawyer Garber said there is debate among lawyers about that question, which has not been settled by the Supreme Court.
How is a contempt finding enforced?
The Supreme Court said in an 1821 case that Congress has the “inherent authority” to arrest and detain recalcitrant witnesses.
In a 1927 case, the high court said the Senate acted lawfully in sending its deputy sergeant-at-arms to Ohio to arrest and detain the brother of the then-attorney general, who had refused to testify about a bribery scheme known as the Teapot Dome scandal.
It has been almost a century since Congress exercised this arrest-and-detain authority, and the practice is unlikely to make a comeback, legal experts said.
Alternatively, Congress can ask the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a federal prosecutor, to bring criminal charges against a witness who refuses to appear. There is a criminal law that specifically prohibits flouting a congressional subpoena.
But this option is also unlikely to be pursued, at least when it comes to subpoenas against executive branch officials.
“It would be odd, structurally, because it would mean the Trump administration would be acting to enforce subpoenas against the Trump administration,” said Lisa Kern Griffin, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at Duke University.
For this reason, in modern times Congress has opted for a third and final approach to enforcing a contempt finding: getting its lawyers to bring a civil lawsuit asking a judge to rule that compliance is required.
Failure to comply with such an order can trigger a “contempt of court” finding, enforced through daily fines and even imprisonment, Griffin said.
In 2012, the House, then controlled by Republicans, subpoenaed internal Justice Department documents related to a failed federal law enforcement operation to track illegal gun sales, dubbed “Fast and Furious.”
Democratic then-President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, refused to comply, citing a doctrine called “executive privilege.” The House voted to hold him in contempt in a rare instance of Congress taking such action against a sitting member of a president’s Cabinet.
Can Trump persuade a court to quash the subpoenas?
Just as Congress can sue to enforce a subpoena, Trump has shown a willingness to sue to block one.
On Monday, Trump brought a constitutional challenge to a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee for his financial records. The subpoena was sent to Mazars USA, an accounting firm, and seeks eight years of his financial statements.
Cummings has said the records are related to its investigation of allegations that Trump inflated or deflated financial statements for potentially improper purposes.
Garber said there was some merit to Trump’s argument that the subpoena power is being improperly used to unearth politically damaging information about him, rather than to help Congress make laws or set budgets.
But Edward Kleinbard, a lawyer who formerly served as chief of staff to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, said Congress is well within its power to investigate whether the president complied with tax laws and similar statutes.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Kevin Drawbuagh and Jonathan Oatis)
FILE PHOTO: Jia Guide, China’s ambassador to Peru, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Chinese embassy in Lima, Peru April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
April 25, 2019
LIMA (Reuters) – Peru will sign a memorandum of understanding to join China’s ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in coming days, China’s ambassador said on Wednesday.
Ambassador Jia Guide made the announcement to guests at a private party in Lima alongside Peru’s vice president, as China kicked off a three-day Belt and Road summit in Beijing that Peru’s trade minister and leaders from around the world are attending.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Sandra Maler)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of PTT is pictured at the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show in Bangkok, Thailand March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
April 25, 2019
By Chayut Setboonsarng and Anshuman Daga
BANGKOK/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Thailand is set to see the most funds raised from IPOs in Southeast Asia this year, with more than $5 billion expected to be garnered in the second half, sources said, as a tourist boost to the economy trumps jitters stoked by inconclusive elections.
Southeast Asia’s second largest economy is expected to see listings from the retail arm of state-owned oil company PTT Pcl, the hospitality business of tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s empire, and a unit of the country’s largest retailer Central Group, people familiar with the matter said.
First-time share sales from these companies and others could make it the largest haul for the country in six years, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak to the media.
Investors are focusing on the country’s stable economic growth and currency and do not see any big risk from political uncertainty. Preliminary election results show Pheu Thai, the leading anti-junta party, has won the most constituency seats, while the pro-army Palang Pracharat gained the most votes, but each is unable to form a government on its own.
Low interest rates and a hunt for high-yielding assets are driving investors to allocate money for equities, fund managers said.
“People are waiting and IPOs will sell,” said Narongchai Akrasanee, chairman of MFC Asset Management.
Tourism is a strong pillar of Thailand’s growth, with the country expecting visitor arrivals to rise by 7.5 percent this year. Thailand’s finance minister said last week that the country will introduce economic measures worth about 20 billion baht ($624 million) to boost consumption, tourism and help low-income earners.
Last year, Vietnam was the biggest market for IPOs in Southeast Asia, with listings there raising $3.4 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.
Bankers say 2019 is set to be Thailand’s strongest year for IPOs since 2013, when they raised over $6 billion. In 2018, Thai listings raised $2.5 billion after mopping up $3.8 billion in the previous year, Refinitiv data showed.
“One positive in Thailand is that domestic investor liquidity is extremely healthy,” said Ho Cheun Hon, Credit Suisse’s Singapore-based head of Southeast Asia equity capital markets.
“Assuming the final election outcome does not impact consumer and investor sentiment negatively, we are hopeful that market conditions in the second half of the year will be constructive for the strong Thai pipeline to push through,” he said.PTT Oil & Retail, which includes gas stations, coffee shops and convenience stores, is expected to kick off its IPO process after the election results and could raise about $2 billion, sources said.
Mall operator Central Group’s retail arm is also slated for a stock market flotation later this year and could raise $1 billion-$2 billion, sources said.
Asset World Corp, the hospitality arm of TCC Group, which owns office buildings, luxury hotels and shopping arcades, plans to launch a $1 billion-$1.5 billion IPO in the second half of the year, IFR reported in January.
PTT, TCC and Central did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
While there is short-term volatility in markets, Thailand’s benchmark index is trading at close to its five-year historical PE ratio, so IPO plans should go ahead if there is more clarity in politics in the second half of 2019, said Nunmanus Piamthipmanus, SCB Asset Management’s chief investment officer.
Some investors, however, cautioned that issuers had to ensure IPOs were not overpriced.
“Competition and supply in offices, hotels and malls make these sectors challenging,” says Thidasiri Srisamith, chief investment officer at Kasikorn Asset Management.
(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in BANGKOK and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)