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Congressional Oversight 2020 - election edition

Appeals court rules against Trump, says House can sue to enforce McGahn subpoena

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the House’s subpoena of former White House counsel Don McGahn, ruling that Congress has the right to enforce its subpoenas in court.

The 7-2 decision from the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses an earlier ruling from a three-judge panel that declared that congressional subpoenas were essentially unenforceable.

"The Constitution charges Congress with certain responsibilities, including to legislate, to conduct oversight of the federal government, and, when necessary, to impeach and remove a President or other Executive Branch official from office," Judge Judith Rogers wrote in the majority opinion. "Possession of relevant information is an essential precondition to the effective discharge of all of those duties."


One again they make no pretense to shutting down any real transparency.

Pompeo rejects Congress’ subpoenas for IG, Biden probe info

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday rejected congressional subpoenas issued for him and for the State Department to provide information and testimony to lawmakers about two politically charged developments. The refusals set the stage for an escalation in the confrontation between the State Department and the Democratic-controlled House ahead of November’s elections.

In letters sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pompeo and the State Department’s acting legislative affairs chief said they had no intention of complying with the subpoenas. They said the subpoenas were politically motivated, without merit, and unnecessary as the information and testimony could be otherwise obtained. The letters were obtained by The Associated Press shortly after they were sent to Capitol Hill.

While congressional subpoenas are legally binding, the Trump administration through various Cabinet agencies has repeatedly refused to comply with House demands with little consequence. There was no immediate response to the letters from the committee, although the panel later announced it was seeking testimony from another official in an unrelated matter.

In one letter, Pompeo said committee chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, was out of line in issuing the subpoenas, which he said were “outrageous” and ignored the State Department’s good faith efforts to answer questions about the firing of the department’s inspector general and the provision of Ukraine-related documents to Republican-controlled Senate committees.

Engel had issued the subpoenas on July 31 and Aug. 3, complaining that Pompeo and the State Department were “stonewalling” repeated requests for information on both matters.

The first subpoena demanded that the State Department turn over to Engel’s committee copies of thousands of pages of documents he said the department had given to the Senate regarding former Vice President Joe Biden as well as his son, Hunter, for his work for a gas company in Ukraine while his father was vice president.

It also asked for internal department emails about responding to Congress. It said Pompeo had delivered more than 16,000 pages of records to the Senate but refused to send the same materials to the Democrat-led House.

In response, the State Department’s acting head of legislative affairs, Ryan Kaldahl, said the agency was not obliged to provide the documents to any committee not conducting its own investigation into the matter. He suggested that Engel’s committee seek copies from its Senate counterparts.

Kaldahl also said the committee had not shown that its demand was for a legitimate legislative purpose and suggested that it was entirely partisan. “The department is unable to consider whether any accommodation is possible in response to the committee’s requests unless the committee explains in detail its legislative purpose,” he wrote.

The second subpoena demanded the testimony of four senior State Department officials about the firing in May of department Inspector General Stephen Linick, which Democrats have alleged came in retaliation for probes the watchdog was conducting into Pompeo. Pompeo has denied knowledge of any investigation into his own conduct.

In rejecting that subpoena, Pompeo said in a letter to Engel that most of the officials in question, including the Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao and others, were prepared to be interviewed voluntarily and repeated that offer.

“Mr. Bulatao and the other requested witnesses will appear and unambiguously refute your baseless accusations and provide full transparency before the elected representatives of the American people,” Pompeo wrote.

“Furthermore, let me express how outrageous it is for you to suggest that the depart,ent is ‘stonewalling’ any investigation into the president’s replacing of Steve Linick,” he wrote, citing at least four offers for Bulatao and others to appear before the committee.

Congressional aides have said those offers were unacceptable because they were contingent on dropping other avenues of inquiry.

Shortly after the letters were sent, Engel announced he was seeking testimony in an unrelated matter from the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Robert “Woody” Johnson on Sept. 30. Johnson is alleged to have tried to weigh in with British officials to move the British Open golf tournament to one of Trump’s resorts and also is accused of inappropriate racist and sexist behavior.

This is not the first time Pompeo has rebuffed a House subpoena. He did not comply with a subpoena to provide documents during the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump ast year, and several other Trump administration officials refused to testify in that probe.

The administration’s record of complying with subpoenas is poor and has left congressional Democrats flustered with little recourse except in the courts.

The House Judiciary Committee sued former White House Counsel Donald McGahn for his refusal to testify about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report in April 2019, and that case has been tied up in courts. On Friday, an appeals court said that the committee can make the claim in court, reversing an earlier court decision.

While the decision was good news for the committee, the matter won’t be resolved any time soon. One of the dissenting judges in that case noted that the House session ends Jan. 3, and “the chances that the committee hears McGahn’s testimony anytime soon are vanishingly slim.”


:pushpin: Re-upping this Profile on Pompeo from the New Yorker. He’s a Koch brothers candidate, who has very limited experience in public service, who once derided Trump in 2016 as, “an authoritarian President who ignored our Constitution.” American soldiers “don’t swear an allegiance to President Trump or any other President,” in a comparison to Obama.

In Washington, Pompeo found a way onto the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the critical panel for the business interests of his Kansas patrons. He appointed a former Koch lawyer as his chief of staff and acquired a reputation as a fierce defender of the Kochs. “Stop Harassing the Koch Brothers” was the title of an op-ed that he wrote in 2012, in which he dismissed attacks on them as “evidence of a truly Nixonian approach to politics.” Two years later, he called the Kochs “great men.” His loyalty was rewarded: according to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 he received more campaign funds from the Kochs’ network than any other candidate in the country.


Watch: Acting DHS Sec. Wolf Testifies on Law Enforcement Deployed to Protests

AUGUST 6, 2020

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to discuss the involvement of federal law enforcement’s role in addressing ongoing unrest in Portland, Oregon, which began as protests after the death of George Floyd. Acting Secretary Wolf rejected claims that federal law enforcement were attacking peaceful protesters and asserted that federal officers were in Portland to protect federal property in that city. He also answered questions about reports the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was compiling intelligence reports on journalists, processing DACA applicants, ICE detention centers, and efforts to combat white supremacist extremism.

Featured Clip:

Watch Sen. Kamala Harris question Wolf about the impacts of the gas on the pregnant mothers at protests.

(Audio quality is poor, just FYI. If you’re sensitive, don’t even try, hit cc)

Audio is better here in this abridged version. :point_down:


Exclusive: Postal service inspector general reviewing DeJoy’s policy changes and potential ethics conflicts

The internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is reviewing controversial policy changes recently imposed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and is also examining DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules, according to a spokeswoman for the USPS inspector general and an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who requested the review.

Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery. Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election – a charge he denies.

Agapi Doulaveris, a spokeswoman for the USPS watchdog, told CNN in an email, “We have initiated a body of work to address the concerns raised, but cannot comment on the details.”

Last week, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and eight other Democratic lawmakers asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy on a number of fronts, including the nationwide policy changes he’s made since taking over in June, as well as whether DeJoy has "met all ethics requirements."

"We have learned that the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General is investigating all aspects of our request," Warren spokeswoman Saloni Sharma told CNN.

It’s unclear if the inspector general has launched a full-scale investigation into possible politicization at USPS by DeJoy, a Trump ally and Republican donor, or if it’s just reviewing the matter for Congress.

:raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands:



Pelosi weighs bringing House back early to address Postal Service crisis

Democrats are looking to address organizational issues at the Postal Service in the coming weeks, not to provide additional funding at this time, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

One option would be to vote on a modified version of a bill introduced by House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) earlier this week that would prohibit USPS from implementing a planned organizational overhaul that critics maintain would handicap mail-in voting.

Other top Democrats also floated addressing other issues, including expired federal unemployment benefits and voting rights. But Democratic sources said the immediate focus — at least for now — is preserving the Postal Service ahead of the election.

On Friday, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a scathing statement accusing President Donald Trump and Republicans of waging an “all-out assault on the Postal Service and its role in ensuring the integrity of the 2020 election.” Their statement came after Trump said he opposes a federal infusion of funds to save the flailing postal service because he doesn’t support mail-in voting.

“The President made plain that he will manipulate the operations of the Post Office to deny eligible voters the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “The President’s own words confirm: he needs to cheat to win.”

Trump has suggested that he’s opposed to giving more money to the Postal Service because of the expected wave of millions of mail-in ballots in November due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Oh! :smirk:

The Senate Intelligence Committee has sent a bipartisan letter to the Justice Department asking federal prosecutors to investigate Stephen K. Bannon, a former Trump confidant, for potentially lying to lawmakers during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times, was signed by the panel’s then-chairman, Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr, and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner.

It also raised concerns about testimony provided by family members and confidants of President Trump that appeared to contradict information provided by a former deputy campaign chairman to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Those it identified as providing such conflicting testimony were the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.


Press Release: Oversight Committee Calls Postmaster General to Testify at “Urgent” Hearing on Sweeping Operational and Organizational Changes

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 16, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, invited Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify at an urgent hearing on Monday, August 24, 2020, on his sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service, which experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail, and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail.

“Over the past several weeks, there have been startling new revelations about the scope and gravity of operational changes you are implementing at hundreds of postal facilities without consulting adequately with Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, or the Board of Governors,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote. “Your testimony is particularly urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays at postal facilities across the country—as well as President Trump’s explicit admission last week that he has been blocking critical coronavirus funding for the Postal Service in order to impair mail-in voting efforts for the upcoming elections in November.”

The hearing on Monday, August 24 will follow a deadline this coming Friday, August 21 for the Postmaster General to produce documents and information in response to a detailed, ten-page letter sent last week by Chairwoman Maloney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and the other Chairs and Ranking Members of the Committees with jurisdiction over the Postal Service and federal elections, Chairperson Zoe Lofgren of the Committee on House Administration, Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and Ranking Member Gary C. Peters of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Chairwoman Maloney also requested the testimony of Robert M. Duncan, the Chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, which “directs the exercise of the powers of the Postal Service, directs and controls its expenditures, reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning, approves officer compensation and sets policies on all postal matters.”

The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, August 24, 2020, in room 2154 Rayburn and will be livestreamed.

Click here to read the invitation to Postmaster General DeJoy.

Click here to read the invitation to Chairman Duncan.


Pelosi to Recall House for Postal Service Vote as Democrats Press for DeJoy to Testify

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced on Sunday that she will call the House back from its annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation that will block the Postal Service from enforcing any changes to policy that was in place at the start of the year.

The House was not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 14, but the vote will most likely be on Saturday, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the plans. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, is expected to announce the final schedule on Monday.

“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat from the president,” Ms. Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week.”


Cross-posting :pray:


Read: Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence United States Senate on Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.s. Election Volume 5: Counterintelligence Threats and Vulnerabilities


More damning and conclusive information which Rs and Dem’s put together in the Senate Intel committee - And Sen Burr was all-in, until he was forced to resign.

Kilimnik - definitely part of Russian intelligence
Manafort, Don Jr, Jared - had “significant connections to Russian government.”
Natalia Veselnitskaya - (set up ‘adoption’ meeting) - had many more suspicious ties that were concering.

Will this get any traction??? It is damning :boom:

The report drew to a close one of the highest-profile congressional inquiries in recent memory, one that the president and his allies have long tried to discredit as part of a “witch hunt” designed to undermine the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s stunning election nearly four years ago.

Like the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who released his findings in April 2019, the Senate report did not conclude that the Trump campaign engaged in a coordinated conspiracy with the Russian government — a fact that Republicans seized on to argue that there was “no collusion.”

But the report showed extensive evidence of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and people tied to the Kremlin — including a longstanding associate of the onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom the report identifies as a “Russian intelligence officer.”

The Senate report for the first time identified Mr. Kilimnik as an intelligence officer. Mr. Mueller’s report had labeled him as someone with ties to Russian intelligence.

Democrats highlighted those ties in their own appendix to the report, noting that Mr. Manafort discussed campaign strategy and shared internal campaign polling data with Mr. Kilimnik, and later lied to federal investigators about his actions.

Democrats also laid out a potentially explosive detail: that investigators had uncovered information possibly tying Mr. Kilimnik to Russia’s major election interference operations conducted by the intelligence service known as the G.R.U.

The committee obtained some information suggesting that the Russian intelligence officer, with whom Manafort had a longstanding relationship, may have been connected to the G.R.U.’s hack-and-leak operation targeting the 2016 U.S. election,” Democrats wrote. “This is what collusion looks like.”

The assertion was a sign that even though the investigation was carried out in bipartisan fashion, and Republican and Democratic senators reached broad agreement on its most significant conclusions, a partisan divide remained on some of the most politically sensitive issues.

The Senate report said that the unusual nature of the Trump campaign — staffed by Mr. Trump’s longtime associates, friends and other businessmen with no government experience — “presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities.”

The Senate investigation found that two other people who met at Trump Tower in 2016 with senior members of the Trump campaign — including Mr. Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son — have “significant connections to Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services.”

The report said that the connections between the Russian government and one of the individuals, Natalia Veselnitskaya, “were far more extensive and concerning than what had been publicly known.”


Trump’s 2016 campaign chair was a ‘grave counterintelligence threat,’ had contact with Russian intelligence, Senate panel finds

The volume, released Tuesday, states that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort worked with a Russian intelligence officer “on narratives that sought to undermine evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,” including the idea that Ukrainian election interference was of greater concern.

The report also states that Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Manafort, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law Jared Kushner at Trump Tower in 2016, had “significant connections” to the Kremlin. The information she offered to them was also “part of a broader influence operation targeting the United States that was coordinated, at least in part with elements of the Russian government,” the report states.

But the panel also found that the FBI’s handling of Russian threats to the election were “flawed,” and that the FBI gave “unjustified credence” to other allegations regarding Trump’s Russia ties that were made in a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, “based on an incomplete understanding of Steele’s past reporting record.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s three and a half year investigation stands as Congress’s only bipartisan examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election. But the panel’s leaders were noticeably divided along party lines in how they interpreted the significance of the report — particularly concerning Trump’s Russia contacts — a sign that their tome will likely not put to rest the political fights over its substance.

Senator Rubio’s comments are absolutely ridiculous here, they will not be repeated. Seeing how Giuliani was working with Manafort from jail to continue the Russian disinformation campaign about Ukraine interference and trying to smear Vice President Joe Biden during Trump’s tenure in office for which the President was Impeached but not removed. Do people not remember impeachment?




Comments from Rep Speier (D-CA)

Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked closely with a Russian intelligence officer who may have been involved in the hack and release of Democratic emails during the election, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a bipartisan report released Tuesday.

It’s the furthest U.S. officials have gone in describing Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort business associate, as an agent of the Russian government. The disclosure was part of the committee’s fifth and final installment of its investigation of the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In particular, the committee’s investigation found that Manafort “represented a grave counterintelligence threat” due to his relationship with Kilimnik and other Russians connected to the country’s intelligence services — a bombshell conclusion that underscores how Russia developed a direct pipeline to the upper echelons of a U.S. presidential campaign.

Kilimnik quickly became an integral part of Manafort’s operations in Ukraine and Russia,” the report states, adding that the pair “formed a close and lasting relationship that would endure to the 2016 U.S. elections and beyond.”


Sen. Warner (D-VA) co-chair of Intel committee describes the final Intel report as " A most comprehensive examination and …a breathtaking level of contacts between T officials and Russian government operatives…and a threat to our elections."

And the other Co-Head of Senate Intel Committee Sen Rubio (R-FL) is less convincing that T’s actions with Russia were inconsequential.


Aug 18 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the below statement on the release of the fifth and final volume of the Committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation titled, “ Volume 5: Counterintelligence Threats and Vulnerabilities ”:

“After more than three and a half years of work, millions of documents, and hundreds of witness interviews, I’m proud that the Committee’s report speaks for itself.

“At nearly 1,000 pages, Volume 5 stands as the most comprehensive examination of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign to date – a breathtaking level of contacts between Trump officials and Russian government operatives that is a very real counterintelligence threat to our elections. I encourage all Americans to carefully review the documented evidence of the unprecedented and massive intervention campaign waged on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump by Russians and their operatives and to reach their own independent conclusions.

“This cannot happen again. As we head into the heat of the 2020 campaign season, I strongly urge campaigns, the executive branch, Congress and the American people to heed the lessons of this report in order to protect our democracy.”

Less than three months out from another presidential election, Warner added: “This cannot happen again.”

However, Acting Senate Intelligence Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the committee found “absolutely no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election.”


Peter Strzok raises some important points as to what the Senate Committee’s investigation does - it says perhaps the FBI did not go deeper enough into a CounterIntelligence search, and comments on Barr’s constant debunking of Mueller’s report and FBI’s report as a ‘a very thin, slender reed.’ of evidence.

He points to this Senate report as having uncovered a whole lot more, and knowing T’s penchant for all things Russian, should we feel safe with T wanting to go to Putin again anytime soon.

And Strzok does have a book coming out AND he’s been demonized by T,and I believe all of what Strzok has to say…he was and is a leading expert on Russia.

Can you move to Congressional Committees please? @Pet_Proletariat @MissJava Thanks!


Such a split screen - Sen Marcc Rubio’s explanation for this Senate Committee Intel report is slippery at best.

A WTFery



Can u plz move to Congressional Committees please? Thx @Pet_Proletariat @MissJava