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Congressional Oversight 2020 - election edition

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(David Bythewood) #81

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https://twitter.com/kurteichenwald/status/1288195088447832064

Barr testimony: Democrats press defiant attorney general on response to protests, intervention in high-profile cases


#82

Here’s what you need to know:

Democrats attacked Mr. Barr on the protest response and said he has ‘aided and abetted’ Trump.

Attorney General William P. Barr and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee tensely confronted each other over the federal response to the nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd in police custody and the Russia investigation.

Democrats immediately accused Mr. Barr of making overtly political decisions to help Mr. Trump. “You have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee chairman, said to Mr. Barr, who sat impassively.

Mr. Nadler added, “The message these actions send is clear: In this Justice Department, the president’s enemies will be punished and his friends will be protected, no matter the cost to liberty, no matter the cost to justice.” He said that Mr. Barr’s actions eroded the separation of powers and damaged norms and the public’s faith in the administration of justice.

Mr. Barr came out swinging. In a prepared opening statement released a night earlier, he accused Democrats of demonizing him because he believed the Trump-Russia investigation was misguided.

He also warned that “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction” in places like Portland, Ore.

In his prepared statement, which he did not fully read aloud, Mr. Barr said, “We should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control, or tear down statues and monuments that law-abiding communities chose to erect, or to destroy the property and livelihoods of innocent business owners.”

His comments were the latest attempt by federal officials to draw more attention to vandals’ nightly bids to damage federal buildings in Portland, accusing the local police of doing little to stop them. City officials have accused federal agents of being heavy-handed and said their presence reinvigorated tensions that had been subsiding.

The attorney general appears to have played a primary role in using federal agents last month to violently clear protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House before a photo opportunity for Mr. Trump in front of a church. Though the White House initially said Mr. Barr had ordered the clearance, he later said he had not given a “tactical” order. Either way, Democrats were livid over his presence and have come to see Mr. Barr as a key impediment to overhauls of policing that enjoy broad public support.

More recently, he has become a face of the Trump administration’s pledge to surge federal agents into Democratic-led cities like Portland, Ore., Chicago, and Kansas City, Mo. where, the White House says, violence has increased, both during protests and elsewhere. The federal intervention — the details of which remain hazy — is quickly becoming another flash point in the monthslong cultural upheaval over systemic racism, and it appears to be a critical campaign strategy by Mr. Trump who is trying to stoke a sense that Democrats are leading the country into chaos.

Exchanges between Mr. Barr and Democrats grew contentious.

The hearing grew increasingly combative as the hours wore on. Democrat after Democrat posed questions to Mr. Barr only to cut him off when he tried to reply, substituting their own replies for his.

Clearly frustrated, Mr. Barr complained at one point: “This is a hearing. I thought I was the one who was supposed to be heard.” At another point, after being reminded he was under oath, he insisted, “I’m going to answer the damn question.”

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the leading Republican on the committee, repeatedly complained that the Democrats were subjecting the attorney general to verbal abuse. “I do not think we have ever had a hearing where the witness was not allowed to respond to points made, questions asked, and attacks made,” he said.

In one testy exchange, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, demanded of Mr. Barr, “Do you think it was appropriate at Lafayette Park to pepper spray, tear gas and beat protesters and injure American citizens?”

When he countered that he did not accept her characterization, she broke in, asking sternly: “Mr. Barr, yes or no? I am starting to lose my temper.”

Democrats criticized Mr. Barr’s intervention in the Roger Stone case.

Democrats attacked Mr. Barr’s intervention to recommend a shorter prison sentence for Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. on seven felony crimes — a sentence Mr. Trump has since commuted.

Mr. Barr defended his extraordinary decision to overrule career prosecutors, saying that they were trying to treat Mr. Stone more harshly than other defendants. The Judiciary Committee heard testimony last month from a prosecutor on the case accusing department leaders of changing the sentencing recommendation for “political reasons.”

“The prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice what anyone else in a similar position had ever served,” Mr. Barr said. “This is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence, they were trying to put them in jail for seven to nine years. I was not going to advocate that. That is not the rule of law.”

Democrats attacked Mr. Barr on the protest response and said he has ‘aided and abetted’ Trump.

Attorney General William P. Barr and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee tensely confronted each other over the federal response to the nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd in police custody and the Russia investigation.

Democrats immediately accused Mr. Barr of making overtly political decisions to help Mr. Trump. “You have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee chairman, said to Mr. Barr, who sat impassively.

Mr. Nadler added, “The message these actions send is clear: In this Justice Department, the president’s enemies will be punished and his friends will be protected, no matter the cost to liberty, no matter the cost to justice.” He said that Mr. Barr’s actions eroded the separation of powers and damaged norms and the public’s faith in the administration of justice.

Mr. Barr came out swinging. In a prepared opening statement released a night earlier, he accused Democrats of demonizing him because he believed the Trump-Russia investigation was misguided.

He also warned that “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction” in places like Portland, Ore.

In his prepared statement, which he did not fully read aloud, Mr. Barr said, “We should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control, or tear down statues and monuments that law-abiding communities chose to erect, or to destroy the property and livelihoods of innocent business owners.”

His comments were the latest attempt by federal officials to draw more attention to vandals’ nightly bids to damage federal buildings in Portland, accusing the local police of doing little to stop them. City officials have accused federal agents of being heavy-handed and said their presence reinvigorated tensions that had been subsiding.

The attorney general appears to have played a primary role in using federal agents last month to violently clear protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House before a photo opportunity for Mr. Trump in front of a church. Though the White House initially said Mr. Barr had ordered the clearance, he later said he had not given a “tactical” order. Either way, Democrats were livid over his presence and have come to see Mr. Barr as a key impediment to overhauls of policing that enjoy broad public support.

More recently, he has become a face of the Trump administration’s pledge to surge federal agents into Democratic-led cities like Portland, Ore., Chicago, and Kansas City, Mo. where, the White House says, violence has increased, both during protests and elsewhere. The federal intervention — the details of which remain hazy — is quickly becoming another flash point in the monthslong cultural upheaval over systemic racism, and it appears to be a critical campaign strategy by Mr. Trump who is trying to stoke a sense that Democrats are leading the country into chaos.


(David Bythewood) #83

Senate GOP coronavirus relief package includes $1.75 billion for new FBI headquarters near Trump hotel

Republicans said the White House pushed for the unrelated project.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday continued to distance themselves from a proposal to fund the construction of a new FBI headquarters in their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package, an unrelated provision pushed by President Donald Trump and criticized by Democrats, who claim the effort is aimed at protecting the president’s financial interests.

“It was a request from the administration,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Tuesday.

New Senate GOP coronavirus bill includes unrelated White House demand for FBI headquarters money

$1.75 billion provision is not connected to the pandemic response but reflects Trump’s ongoing interest in a new downtown FBI building.


#84

Barr won’t rule out pre-election release of Durham report

“I will be very careful. I know what Justice Department policy is,” Barr said during a long-awaited appearance before the House Judiciary Committee. “Any report will be, in my judgment, not one that is covered by the policy and would disrupt the election.”

When asked directly by Rep. Debbie Murcasel-Powell (D-Fla.) whether he would commit to not releasing a report from Durham between now and November, the attorney general flatly declined.

“No,” Barr replied.

In an interview last month with Fox Business Channel, Barr said he hoped for some action from Durham this summer, but suggested the coronavirus pandemic had complicated Durham’s work.

“In terms of the future of Durham’s investigation, he’s pressing ahead as hard as he can, and I expect that we will have some developments, hopefully before the end of the summer,” Barr said then.

For a refresher this story was originally brought to our attention by @dragonfly9 way back when. Read :point_down:

Day 1049


(David Bythewood) #85

She got it right.


https://twitter.com/DemWrite/status/1288328146308063232?s=20


#86

House panel votes to give all members access to classified intel on foreign ‘disinformation’ campaign

The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday voted to allow all House members to view classified intelligence that Democratic leaders provided to the FBI warning about a foreign “disinformation” campaign targeting the 2020 presidential election.

Last week, Democratic congressional leaders sent FBI Director Chris Wray a letter urging an FBI briefing to all lawmakers about the foreign interference efforts. Sources told CNN the Democrats’ classified addendum included concerns about a Russian-linked “disinformation” campaign to target former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, including that information from entities with ties to Russia was being provided to Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, who is leading an investigation into Biden.

Democrats have not publicly explained the material they shared with the FBI. The Intelligence Committee voted behind closed doors to make the classified addendum available to any House member who requests it. The vote was along party lines, with Republicans opposed, according to two sources familiar with the matter.



(David Bythewood) #87

So, as usual, the GOP voted against any form of intelligence.


#88

Watch: Heads of Facebook, Amazon, Apple & Google Testify on Antitrust Law

The heads of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook testified on antitrust law before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

Note: This is happening on the periphery of today’s Trump news, I’m including it because it’s the first hearing of its kind and the way tech has influenced our culture I find it to whole heartedly relevant to all politics, including the Trump Administration.


#89

This is sooo hard to watch, all the lying and double-speak and dumbassery, both testifiers and GOP questioners. These men sitting here completely unfazed by any difficult questions b/c they have unshakeable confidence they will continue to get away with whatever they want.

HOWEVER. It is almost worth it just to see Reps Demmings and Jayapal DRAGGGGGG these motherfuckers like lionesses with bloody pieces of prey. :raised_hands:


#90

Engel subpoenas State Dept. for Biden documents given to Senate Republicans

Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, subpoenaed the State Department on Friday demanding copies of documents that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already provided to Senate Republicans investigating Joe Biden.

Engel indicated he subpoenaed the documents because the department had ignored his initial request to share copies of any material being provided to the Senate. Democrats view the Senate GOP investigation, led by Sen. Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, as an effort to smear Biden on false corruption allegations related to his diplomacy in Ukraine.

“After trying to stonewall virtually every oversight effort by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last two years, Mr. Pompeo is more than happy to help Senate Republicans advance their conspiracy theories about the Bidens,” Engel said in a statement. “I want to see the full record of what the department has sent to the Senate and I want the American people to see it too.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Engel has threatened to subpoena for the documents since May, when Johnson’s probe began ramping up.


#91


#92

This isn’t Congressional oversight but related.

D.A. Is Investigating Trump and His Company Over Fraud, Filing Suggests

The Manhattan district attorney’s office suggested on Monday that it has been investigating President Trump and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past.

The office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., made the disclosure in a new federal court filing arguing Mr. Trump should have to comply with its subpoena seeking eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. Mr. Trump has asked a judge to declare the subpoena invalid.

The prosecutors did not directly identify the focus of their inquiry but said that “undisputed” news reports last year about Mr. Trump’s business practices make it clear that the office had a legal basis for the subpoena.

The reports, including investigations into the president’s wealth and an article on the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, said that the president may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurers. Lawyers for Mr. Trump have said he did nothing wrong.


#93

https://twitter.com/TimOBrien/status/1290346579023495172?s=20

A Manhattan prosecutor trying to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns told a judge Monday that he was justified in demanding them, citing public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”

Trump’s lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the tax returns was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment of the president.

Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. is seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation is related to payoffs made to women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.

In a court filing Monday, though, attorneys for Vance said Trump’s arguments that the subpoena was too broad stemmed from “the false premise” that the probe was limited to so-called “hush-money” payments.

“This Court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by undisputed information in the public record,” Vance’s lawyers wrote.

They said public reporting demonstrates that at the time the subpoena was issues “there were public allegations of possible criminal activity at Plaintiff’s New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade.”

These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New York’s borders. This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct,” the lawyers said.

The lawyers urged Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Trump’s arguments, saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation. Marrero, who ruled against Trump last year, has scheduled arguments to be fully submitted by mid-August.

Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court,” Vance’s lawyers said. “Every such day also increases the prospect of a loss of evidence or the expiration of limitations periods — the precise concerns that the Supreme Court observed justified its rejection of Plaintiff’s immunity claim in the first place.

The Supreme Court last month rejected claims by Trump’s lawyers that the president could not be criminally investigated while he was in office.


#94

New FBI Documents From Mueller’s Russia Investigation Reveal What Witnesses Said About Trump

BuzzFeed News filed a public records lawsuit to get the documents Robert Mueller used to write his report. Today, we are publishing the ninth installment of what witnesses in the investigation told Mueller’s team.


#95

CNN


#96

Cross-posting :pray: I read a tweet about it but didn’t follow up yesterday and then forgot this happened.