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TBR News May 8, 2019

May 08 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. May 8, 2019: “Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for May 8: “Like a huge boa constrictor, an outraged Congress, allied with half of Washington, is squeezine a furious Trump who now is his own worst enemy. He will not negotiate but orders, threatens and demands. Congress has the power to remove him and it now appears that they are going to. Initially, Congress wanted to rein in some of Trump’s excesses but he became so enraged and so vengeful that they now want nothing less than impeachment. And a number of Republicans are very nervous about the issue because elections are coming up and they do not want to be seen as being too close to the irrational President.”

The Table of Contents

  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Trump escalates fight with Democrats as they move to hold Barr in contempt 
  • Mike Pompeo rejects Canada’s claims to Northwest Passage as ‘illegitimate’
  • A Dollar-by-Dollar Tour of the National Security State
  • US Navy plans to boost submarine spending to $5 billion by 2024
  • Till debt do us part: Tuition loan burden is literally killing US college grads
  • Trump blasts report on his business losses, calls accounting a ‘sport’
  • White House asserts executive privilege to block full Russia report release
  • House Speaker Pelosi: Trump making impeachment case by ignoring subpoenas
  • Pelosi: Trump is becoming ‘self-impeachable’

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Joel Rosenberg

Joel C. Rosenberg is a fundie communications strategist, founder of The Joshua Fund, and author of the rather popular Last Jihad series. The latter details, in the form of novels, how Rosenberg, a Messianic Jew (or something similar), interprets terrorism in light of Bible prophecy. He also has written two ostensibly non-fiction books, Epicenter and Inside the Revolution, which also try to interpret current events in light of biblical prophecies. They are distinguished from his novels in terms of prose style and narrative structure, not by any grounding in facts or reality – here, for instance, is Rosenberg explaining how the war in Syria is obviously foretold in the Bible. It’s … a stretch, but Neil Cavuto on Fox apparently took it seriously. Here are (a commentary on) some other examples. Rosenberg is a former Rush Limbaugh research assistant, and used to share his thoughts with Glenn Beck.

Rosenberg currently lives in Israel, where he works to proselytize to Jews and convert them to Christianity; on his website, he states that “Jews are turning to Jesus in record numbers, and they are getting excited about His Second Coming.” This is important, as Rosenberg sees it, since we are currently living in the End Times (Rosenberg takes a dispensionalist view on these matters, for those interested) and headed into the rapture and the return of Jesus Christ brought about by an emerging Islamic caliphate. His novel The Twelfth Imam accordingly describes a near-futre where Iran has a nuclear weapon and “[m]illions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah – known as ‘the Twelfth Imam’ – has just arrived on earth.” He has also suggested that the only way Arabs and Israelis can reach a lasting peace is for “Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace – to change men’s hearts and reign in our hearts,” but we’ll leave it to readers to figure out whether this is something he would want to see happen, given that the conflict is an integral part of the mechanisms ushering in the return of Jesus.

In general, Rosenberg is fond of linking stuff together, which is rather easy to do if you don’t focus on details or whether the relata are connected by anything other than your own vecordious imagination. During GodTV’s 9/11 Wake Up Call, Rosenberg claimed that God let the attacks on September 11, 2011 happen “to shake America, to get our attention, to wake us up,” later pointing to America’s abortion rate, financial debt and pornography industry as national sins that should be blamed and which are leading to the destruction of America (legal abortion is worse than the Holocaust, claimed Rosenberg, and will be punished accordingly). Apparently conflicts in the Middle East are a result of abortion being legal in the US. Also, “God is trying to shake us” through earthquakes and hurricanes, including hurricane Sandy, because “He is trying to get us to let go of anything else, any form of ideology, philosophy, political belief, religious belief, material position, anything or anyone that we are holding onto other than Jesus Christ.” Later, he emphasized that people like Jon Stewart of The Daily Show must share the blame for the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting (and in general for the, uh, fact that “demons of violence and lawlessness are on the loose all across America”) because they have waged a “cultural war against Jesus and Christmas.” and tried to “drive [God] out of our society.” If you think the causal connection is a bit unclear, Rosenberg explains: God did not stop the Newton massacre because God is a “gentleman”: “If a nation tells Him to leave, He will leave.” Or, more pithily: if you disagree with Rosenberg on religious issues, you are to blame for school shootings. He is a little bit back and forth on whether God has removed his hand of protection or will do so if we don’t repent. Not even Rosenberg himself can really tell the difference, can he?

The Joshua Fund, where Rosenberg is the founder and president, is a not-for-profit charity that seeks to “Bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.”

Diagnosis: Fanatic, zealous, angry and hateful rubbish, all of it. Yet Rosenberg seems to have the ear of plenty of people in power, and can definitely not be dismissed as rapidly and decisively as the contents of his claims.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

May 8, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

 

Conversation No. 65

Date: Tuesday, February 11, 1997

Commenced: 9:05 AM CST

Concluded: 9:42 AM CST

RTC: Why, Gregory, so soon after our last conversation? We’ll have to be careful or Emily might get jealous. Do you have something new for me to chew on?

GD: No, I’ve been working on the latest Mueller book and I’m about worked out for the rest of the day. Writing is not hard, Robert, but the research is a killer. Still, if you don’t want the rat-faced gits in your old agency or Wolfe’s decaying Hebrews braying at you like a barn full of donkeys in a fire, you have to dot every “i” and cross every “t”. Not that these chinless wonders are capable of finding errors, but eventually someone might and then the jackass chorus begins. No, Corson told me my strong suit was my research and my stronger one was taking the results of it and making it readable without being a pompous, opinionated university pedant. When I worked for Army Intelligence years ago, I was well-known for my research. Of course, the whole office hated me.

RTC: And why so?

GD: Actually, because I worked on my material until I had finished, even if I had to spend the night in the office. I was known to have slept on my desk and subsisted on coffee. But the work got done and, most important, it got done right. And I never tried to shove my own views down anyone’s throat. I liked then, as I like now, to present both sides of an issue, clearly and without passion, letting the reader make up its own mind.

RTC: Very, very rare, talent, Gregory. Bill commented on this once and I would have to agree. Well, who do you work for now? This seems to be in your blood.

GD: Myself. I am a wonderful boss, Robert, really inspired and so kind to myself.

RTC: Do you treat yourself well at Christmas?

GD: Oh yes, Christmas. I haven’t had a Christmas card for years and not a present from anyone. It’s just another day for me and quieter than most.

RTC: I would invite you to have Christmas with us, but my son would be unhappy.

GD: Well, thank you for the thought.

RTC: And how is the Mueller book coming?

GD: Fine, and the blow-flies from your former agency are starting to buzz around again. Let’s see how much I can clip them for this time.

RTC: Well, I suppose if they can’t be more creative, they have to pay the price.

GD: No, they would never come right out and try to communicate with me. Why, the Gods do not deign to descend to earth to speak with mere mortals. And they pay the price, too. After all, they don’t care how much of the taxpayer’s money ends up in my pocket. What about the fool returning to his own folly? Or the dog to his own vomit? At least they don’t descend to the petty and sadistic harassments that we find in the local police.

RTC: I would hope not.

GD: That puts me in mind of a sordid but highly entertaining incident in my earlier life. Most people remember Thanksgivings with the grandparents or their first experience in the cramped backseat of the family car but I recall more entertaining things.

RTC: Are you planning to enlighten me? This has nothing to do with the Company, has it? You’re rather negative today, Gregory.

GD: I’m negative all the time. No, nothing to do with your people. Just an example of how to deal with illegally intrusive agencies. I was living in a rural area once and in a nearby town was a friend of mine. He was a gun collector. He actually collected Swiss Lugers.

RTC: German?

GD: No, Swiss. Beautifully made pieces.

RTC: I can well imagine. Go on.

GD: Anyway, he collected these and people knew about this. I want to stress that they were quite legal. The local sheriff’s people somehow got wind of this and began to harass him. I think they just wanted to frighten him and steal his collection. The police love to do things like that. When I was younger, I knew one cop who liked to take war relics like Japanese swords away from kids because he said they were illegal, which they were not. I fixed his wagon good but this is not the forum for that one. So he had vague and sinister threats like, ‘You could go to prison for years…’ and so on. He told me about this harassment. He had no money and it was a rural area where there are no real lawyers to intervene, so I gave the matter a lot of thought and finally hit on a plan to rid himself of the swine. Not nice but it worked.

RTC: Yes. What did you do? Shoot someone?

GD: Oh God, no. Someone else did.

RTC: This is beginning to sound rather ugly.

GD: It does get that way. First off, I told him to hide the guns, the Lugers, away from his home and I gave him some suggestions. He did, but he hated to lose physical control of them. Now you know, in the rural area in his county was a junkyard that was run by an old nut. He was convinced that the Communists were taking over the local schools and kept getting up at local governmental meetings and bitching about this. And, of course, sent long misspelled letters to the local paper. I didn’t know him personally, but I knew, or found out, a lot about him. He shot the neighborhood dogs and cats and was, in my estimation at least, a perfect foil. My friend now had no weapons, legal or otherwise, in his physical possession. So I got the name of the chief of detectives that was hoping to add some nice pieces to his personal gun collection and I called him at home. They wouldn’t have a trace on his line then. I told him a good deal of really accurate information to establish my bona fides and then said that he also had two German machine pistols, which I went into some detail on and that he had hidden them with the owner of the junkyard, who, I knew, was also a gun collector. This one was not very smart and he bought the whole cake. I waited a few days and then called the junk dealer. I told him I was on the local sheriff’s staff and we knew a gang of armed Communists were going to come out to his place and kill him.

RTC: Oh, sweet Jesus, you didn’t? No, you did. Go on, but I know the ending.

GD: Naturally. One dark night, two cars full of deputies, all heavily armed with guns and shovels, drove down his lane, lights out. The junkyard dogs started barking and the old man was ready. The one I talked to, kicked down his door and the old man let fly with a 12 gauge shotgun, full choke, pointblank range, both barrels, right in the face. Down went the greedy one with no head left. Reload and the one behind got both barrels in the tum-tum. Another one got it in the leg and they later had to cut if off above the knee. Screaming, shouting, guns going off all over the place, screams from the junkyard as the vicious dogs munched on deputies. My God, Robert, the neighbors said it sounded like the Battle of Cold Harbor. Some deputy had a Truflight 37 millimeter flare gun and he got winged and let fly up in the air. That’s the sort of tear gas gun that is really designed to set fire to buildings. A little tear gas for effect and a lot of incendiary material. The Feds used that in LA to nail the SLA. ‘Oh, gosh,’ they say after they burned down a house with fifteen people in it,’ someone must have knocked over a candle in there.’ So one of these shells went up and came down on a neighbor’s house. Set it on fire and by the time the rural fire boys managed to get out there, it had burnt to the ground with a wheel-chair bound granny inside. Of course, they finally killed the old man and all of his dogs and his place burnt down with two of the law roasted along with the old man. You could see the flames for miles. The next day, the remaining law-breakers were out there, picking through the smoking rubble and digging in the junkyard in a frantic search for the guns. Of course, there weren’t any guns. And as a precaution, I had told my friend to absent himself from the area and visit friends. Of course they came after him but he was 500 miles away and had been there before, during and after the carnage. And now the really nice part. The old man’s son was a prominent lawyer in another state and I called him up, telling him I was a horrified local policeman. He had no idea what had happened, so I said they had killed his father and burned his house down because he was making trouble for them. That lawyer went ballistic, as they say, and believed every word I said. And when he descended on the town, along with the FBI, I would like to have been in the civic offices. Of course I wasn’t, because I am not stupid but there were copious newspaper accounts and local gossip. I know there were several closed coffins at various funerals in the weeks to come. And huge lawsuits, Federal charges and so on followed. The local law could give no reason why they raided the place other than to claim some informant had phoned in a tip. Who was this informant? No idea. The lawyer got big money in the end, people were arrested and many new faces were seen in the much-subdued sheriff’s office. And I had my friend contact the son and tell him a story and tell him he was terrified for his life. The lawyer used his testimony and, good for him, paid for my friend’s exit from the area and his comfortable establishment under a new name elsewhere.

RTC: Probably got him under Witness Protection. That’s quite a story, Gregory, but I believe it. Your friend kept his guns?

GD: That was the drill, Robert, he kept his guns. There never were any machine guns, of course. I moved away out of prudence about this time so I can’t tell you any more.

RTC: Take care of your friends, Gregory, don’t you?

GD: Always, Robert. And I take care of the bad people as well. Does this turn you off?

RTC: Not really. I see a typical abuse of power there, Gregory, and I’m really so happy we seem to get on with each other.

GD: Now he could just have moved away, but why should he have to do that? They were wrong and that’s the end of the matter.

RTC: I told Bill once that you should have worked for us.

GD: No, I would not have. I am happy when I work by myself and I would not do well in a bureaucracy. They aren’t overly bright and they love to tell you why you can’t do this or that. The point is, Robert, that you win the real battle, not the paper one.

(Concluded at 9:42 AM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Trump escalates fight with Democrats as they move to hold Barr in contempt 

Jerrold Nadler makes proposal after the DoJ refuses to give House judiciary committee an unredacted version of Mueller’s report

May 6, 2019

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

Donald Trump’s bitter confrontation with his political opponents continued to intensify on Monday, after House Democrats set up a vote to hold his attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress.

The president has repeatedly lashed out at Democrats as they pursue Barr over what they say was his biased and misleading interpretation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Jerrold Nadler, Democratic chair of the House judiciary committee, proposes to hold Barr in contempt after the justice department refused to provide the panel with an unredacted version of Mueller’s report. The committee had given Barr until 9am on Monday to comply.

“Even in redacted form, the special counsel’s report offers disturbing evidence and analysis that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice at the highest levels,” Nadler said. “Congress must see the full report and underlying evidence to determine how to best move forward with oversight, legislation and other constitutional responsibilities.”

He added: “The attorney general’s failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report.”

Should the committee vote on Wednesday morning to hold Barr in contempt, the resolution will move to the House floor for a full vote to authorise legal proceedings which could drag on for months or years.

The fight between Barr and the Democratic-led House has been escalating. The attorney general failed to attend a hearing with the judiciary committee last week, amid a dispute over how he would be questioned. One Democrat, Steve Cohen, protested by eating from a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, telling reporters: “Chicken Barr should have showed up today.”

Hours later, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said she believed the attorney general had lied about his communications with Mueller in testimony last month, which she said was a “crime”. Justice department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec called Pelosi’s accusation “reckless, irresponsible and false”.

Critics have accused Barr of acting more like Trump’s personal lawyer than the attorney general of the nation, raising fresh fears over erosion of the rule of law. Some Democrats have called on him to resign.

Trump has been enraged by Democrats’ unwillingness to move on from the Mueller investigation, which he falsely claims exonerated him entirely. On Monday he railed against possible impeachment, tweeting: “… there are ‘No High Crimes & Misdemeanors,’ No Collusion, No Conspiracy, No Obstruction. ALL THE CRIMES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE, and that’s what the Dems should be looking at, but they won’t. Nevertheless, the tables are turning!”

Reactions to the Mueller report, and Barr’s handling of it, have proved a litmus test of Washington’s partisan polarisation. Monday was no different.

The top Republican on the House judiciary committee, Doug Collins of Georgia, said: “Democrats have launched a proxy war smearing the attorney general when their anger actually lies with the president and the special counsel, who found neither conspiracy nor obstruction.”

In fact Mueller described 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump or his aides and indicated it was up to Congress to take the matter further. Barr announced that he had determined Trump should not be indicted. On Monday, more than 370 former federal prosecutors signed a public statement saying Mueller’s work would have produced “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice” against Trump, were it not for the office he held.

“The Mueller report,” the statement said, “describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming”.

Collins described the Wednesday House judiciary vote on Barr and the Mueller report, as “illogical and disingenuous since negotiations are under way with the justice department for access”.

A contempt vote would carry symbolic force but it would not compel Barr to hand over the report. The full House would need to approve it, sending a criminal referral to the US attorney for the District of Columbia – a justice department official likely to defend the attorney general.

Democrats argue they need to see the full report, including underlying materials, in order to conduct a complete review of Mueller’s investigation. Nadler said the committee wants to see witness interviews and “items such as contemporaneous notes” that are cited in the report. He also asked that all members of Congress be allowed to review an unredacted version.

As the conflict with Barr has worsened, Democrats have been in negotiations to hear from Mueller himself. Trump complicated those negotiations on Sunday when he tweeted that he would oppose Mueller’s testimony. Trump had previously said he would leave the question to Barr, who has said he has no objection to Mueller testifying.

Nadler said last week the committee was “firming up the date” for Mueller’s testimony, hoping it would be 15 May.

 

Mike Pompeo rejects Canada’s claims to Northwest Passage as ‘illegitimate’

Speech to Arctic Council delegates prompted frustration and surprise among experts and government officials

May 7, 2019

by Leyland Cecco in Toronto

The Guardian

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has rejected Canada’s claims to the Northwest Passage as “illegitimate”, in a high-profile foreign policy speech that prompted frustration and surprise among experts and government officials.

Delegates from Arctic nations – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US – had gathered in Finland to discuss balancing climate change with resource development in the region.

“No one denies Russia has significant Arctic interests,” Pompeo told delegates of the Arctic Council on Monday. “We recognize that Russia is not the only nation making illegitimate claims: the US has a long contested feud with Canada over sovereign claims through the Northwest Passage.”

The Arctic route linking the Atlantic and the Pacific offers a potential shortcut between Europe and China. Although the passage remains ice-bound for much of the year, it has become increasingly usable because of global warming and the retreat of Arctic sea ice.

While the United States has long maintained that the route, often blocked by sea ice, lies in international waters, Canada has argued the waters pass through sovereign territory.

Foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland dismissed Pompeo’s remarks after a meeting with her American counterpart.

“Canada is very clear about the Northwest Passage being Canadian. There is both a very strong and geographic connection with Canada,” Freeland told reporters.

Michael Byers, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia and author of International Law and the Arctic, said Pompeo’s remarks were consistent with US policy. But he said the “belligerent” speech contained numerous,“factual mistakes and logical inconsistencies”.

Byers said: “He talked about Chinese investments in infrastructure in the Canadian Arctic, [but] there are none. That was a straight-out factual misstatement.”

Pompeo also came in for criticism for enthusing about the “abundance” of resources available for extracting in the Arctic as climate change causing ice to retreat. “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade, that can potentially slashing the time it takes for ships to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days,” he said.

The council meeting ended without a joint final statement from council members, after the US delegation balked at the inclusion of the phrase “climate change”.It marked the first time the Arctic Council had failed to produce a declaration since 1996.

“I actually celebrate the fact that the seven other countries stood up to the Trump administration” said Byers. “We’re talking about about six close allies of the United States – four of them Nato partners – drawing a line in the snow saying you cannot have a declaration without acknowledging the crisis of climate change.”

 

A Dollar-by-Dollar Tour of the National Security State

May 8, 2019

by William D. Hartung, Mandy Smithberger and Tom Engelhardt

TomDispatch.

In its latest budget request, the Trump administration is asking for a near-record $750 billion for the Pentagon and related defense activities, an astonishing figure by any measure. If passed by Congress, it will, in fact, be one of the largest military budgets in American history, topping peak levels reached during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. And keep one thing in mind: that $750 billion represents only part of the actual annual cost of our national security state.

There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought. So the next time a president, a general, a secretary of defense, or a hawkish member of Congress insists that the U.S. military is woefully underfunded, think twice. A careful look at U.S. defense expenditures offers a healthy corrective to such wildly inaccurate claims.

Now, let’s take a brief dollar-by-dollar tour of the U.S. national security state of 2019, tallying the sums up as we go, and see just where we finally land (or perhaps the word should be “soar”), financially speaking.

The Pentagon’s “Base” Budget: The Pentagon’s regular, or “base,” budget is slated to be $544.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2020, a healthy sum but only a modest down payment on total military spending.

As you might imagine, that base budget provides basic operating funds for the Department of Defense, much of which will actually be squandered on preparations for ongoing wars never authorized by Congress, overpriced weapons systems that aren’t actually needed, or outright waste, an expansive category that includes everything from cost overruns to unnecessary bureaucracy. That $544.5 billion is the amount publicly reported by the Pentagon for its essential expenses and includes as well $9.6 billion in mandatory spending that goes toward items like military retirement.

Among those basic expenses, let’s start with waste, a category even the biggest boosters of Pentagon spending can’t defend. The Pentagon’s own Defense Business Board found that cutting unnecessary overhead, including a bloated bureaucracy and a startlingly large shadow workforce of private contractors, would save $125 billion over five years. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that the board’s proposal has done little to quiet calls for more money. Instead, from the highest reaches of the Pentagon (and the president himself) came a proposal to create a Space Force, a sixth military service that’s all but guaranteed to further bloat its bureaucracy and duplicate work already being done by the other services. Even Pentagon planners estimate that the future Space Force will cost $13 billion over the next five years (and that’s undoubtedly a low-ball figure).

In addition, the Defense Department employs an army of private contractors – more than 600,000 of them – many doing jobs that could be done far more cheaply by civilian government employees. Cutting the private contractor work force by 15% to a mere half-million people would promptly save more than $20 billion per year. And don’t forget the cost overruns on major weapons programs like the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent – the Pentagon’s unwieldy name for the Air Force’s new intercontinental ballistic missile – and routine overpayments for even minor spare parts (like $8,000 for a helicopter gear worth less than $500, a markup of more than 1,500%).

Then there are the overpriced weapons systems the military can’t even afford to operate like the $13-billion aircraft carrier, 200 nuclear bombers at $564 million a pop, and the F-35 combat aircraft, the most expensive weapons system in history, at a price tag of at least $1.4 trillion over the lifetime of the program. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has found – and the Government Accountability Office recently substantiated – that, despite years of work and staggering costs, the F-35 may never perform as advertised.

And don’t forget the Pentagon’s recent push for long-range strike weapons and new reconnaissance systems designed for future wars with a nuclear-armed Russia or China, the kind of conflicts that could easily escalate into World War III, where such weaponry would be beside the point. Imagine if any of that money were devoted to figuring out how to prevent such conflicts, rather than hatching yet more schemes for how to fight them.

Base Budget total: $554.1 billion

The War Budget: As if its regular budget weren’t enough, the Pentagon also maintains its very own slush fund, formally known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account, or OCO. In theory, the fund is meant to pay for the war on terror – that is, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere across the Middle East and Africa. In practice, it does that and so much more.

After a fight over shutting down the government led to the formation of a bipartisan commission on deficit reduction – known as Simpson-Bowles after its co-chairs, former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson – Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. It officially put caps on both military and domestic spending that were supposed to save a total of $2 trillion over 10 years. Half of that figure was to come from the Pentagon, as well as from nuclear weapons spending at the Department of Energy. As it happened, though, there was a huge loophole: that war budget was exempt from the caps. The Pentagon promptly began to put tens of billions of dollars into it for pet projects that had nothing whatsoever to do with current wars (and the process has never stopped). The level of abuse of this fund remained largely secret for years, with the Pentagon admitting only in 2016 that just half of the money in the OCO went to actual wars, prompting critics and numerous members of Congress – including then-Congressman Mick Mulvaney, now President Trump’s latest chief of staff – to dub it a “slush fund.”

This year’s budget proposal supersizes the slush in that fund to a figure that would likely be considered absurd if it weren’t part of the Pentagon budget. Of the nearly $174 billion proposed for the war budget and “emergency” funding, only a little more than $25 billion is meant to directly pay for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The rest will be set aside for what’s termed “enduring” activities that would continue even if those wars ended, or to pay for routine Pentagon activities that couldn’t be funded within the constraints of the budget caps. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to work to alter this arrangement. Even if the House leadership were to have its way, however, most of its reductions in the war budget would be offset by lifting caps on the regular Pentagon budget by corresponding amounts. (It’s worth noting that President Trump’s budget calls for someday eliminating the slush fund.)

The 2020 OCO also includes $9.2 billion in “emergency” spending for building Trump’s beloved wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, among other things. Talk about a slush fund! There is no emergency, of course. The executive branch is just seizing taxpayer dollars that Congress refused to provide. Even supporters of the president’s wall should be troubled by this money grab. As 36 former Republican members of Congress recently argued, “What powers are ceded to a president whose policies you support may also be used by presidents whose policies you abhor.” Of all of Trump’s “security”-related proposals, this is undoubtedly the most likely to be eliminated, or at least scaled back, given the congressional Democrats against it.

War Budget total: $173.8 billion

Running tally: $727.9 billion

The Department of Energy/Nuclear Budget: It may surprise you to know that work on the deadliest weapons in the U.S. arsenal, nuclear warheads, is housed in the Department of Energy (DOE), not the Pentagon. The DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration runs a nationwide research, development, and production network for nuclear warheads and naval nuclear reactors that stretches from Livermore, California, to Albuquerque and Los Alamos, New Mexico, to Kansas City, Missouri, to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Savannah River, South Carolina. Its laboratories also have a long history of program mismanagement, with some projects coming in at nearly eight times the initial estimates.

Nuclear Budget total: $24.8 billion

Running tally: $752.7 billion

“Defense Related Activities”: This category covers the $9 billion that annually goes to agencies other than the Pentagon, the bulk of it to the FBI for homeland security-related activities.

Defense Related Activities total: $9 billion

Running tally: $761.7 billion

The five categories outlined above make up the budget of what’s officially known as “national defense.” Under the Budget Control Act, this spending should have been capped at $630 billion. The $761.7 billion proposed for the 2020 budget is, however, only the beginning of the story.

The Veterans Affairs Budget: The wars of this century have created a new generation of veterans. In all, over 2.7 million U.S. military personnel have cycled through the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Many of them remain in need of substantial support to deal with the physical and mental wounds of war. As a result, the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs has gone through the roof, more than tripling in this century to a proposed $216 billion. And this massive figure may not even prove enough to provide the necessary services.

More than 6,900 U.S. military personnel have died in Washington’s post-9/11 wars, with more than 30,000 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. These casualties are, however, just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of thousands of returning troops suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), illnesses created by exposure to toxic burn pits, or traumatic brain injuries. The U.S. government is committed to providing care for these veterans for the rest of their lives. An analysis by the Costs of War Project at Brown University has determined that obligations to veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars alone will total more than $1 trillion in the years to come. This cost of war is rarely considered when leaders in Washington decide to send U.S. troops into combat.

Veterans Affairs total: $216 billion

Running tally: $977.7 billion

The Homeland Security Budget: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a mega-agency created after the 9/11 attacks. At the time, it swallowed 22 then-existing government organizations, creating a massive department that currently has nearly a quarter of a million employees. Agencies that are now part of DHS include the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Secret Service, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

While some of DHS’s activities – such as airport security and defense against the smuggling of a nuclear weapon or “dirty bomb” into our midst – have a clear security rationale, many others do not. ICE – America’s deportation force – has done far more to cause suffering among innocent people than to thwart criminals or terrorists. Other questionable DHS activities include grants to local law enforcement agencies to help them buy military-grade equipment.

Homeland Security total: $69.2 billion

Running tally: $1.0469 trillion

The International Affairs Budget: This includes the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Diplomacy is one of the most effective ways to make the United States and the world more secure, but it has been under assault in the Trump years. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget calls for a one-third cut in international affairs spending, leaving it at about one-fifteenth of the amount allocated for the Pentagon and related agencies grouped under the category of “national defense.” And that doesn’t even account for the fact that more than 10% of the international affairs budget supports military aid efforts, most notably the $5.4 billion Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. The bulk of FMF goes to Israel and Egypt, but in all over a dozen countries receive funding under it, including Jordan, Lebanon, Djibouti, Tunisia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

International Affairs total: $51 billion

Running tally: $1.0979 trillion

The Intelligence Budget: The United States has 17 separate intelligence agencies. In addition to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the FBI, mentioned above, they are the CIA; the National Security Agency; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research; the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of National Security Intelligence; the Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis; the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; the National Reconnaissance Office; the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command; the Office of Naval Intelligence; Marine Corps Intelligence; and Coast Guard Intelligence. And then there’s that 17th one, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, set up to coordinate the activities of the other 16.

We know remarkably little about the nature of the nation’s intelligence spending, other than its supposed total, released in a report every year. By now, it’s more than $80 billion. The bulk of this funding, including for the CIA and NSA, is believed to be hidden under obscure line items in the Pentagon budget. Since intelligence spending is not a separate funding stream, it’s not counted in our tally below (though, for all we know, some of it should be).

Intelligence Budget total: $80 billion

Running tally (still): $1.0979 trillion

Defense Share of Interest on the National Debt: The interest on the national debt is well on its way to becoming one of the most expensive items in the federal budget. Within a decade, it is projected to exceed the Pentagon’s regular budget in size. For now, of the more than $500 billion in interest taxpayers fork over to service the government’s debt each year, about $156 billion can be attributed to Pentagon spending.

Defense Share of National Debt total: $156.3 billion

Final tally: $1.2542 trillion

So, our final annual tally for war, preparations for war, and the impact of war comes to more than $1.25 trillion – more than double the Pentagon’s base budget. If the average taxpayer were aware that this amount was being spent in the name of national defense – with much of it wasted, misguided, or simply counterproductive – it might be far harder for the national security state to consume ever-growing sums with minimal public pushback. For now, however, the gravy train is running full speed ahead and its main beneficiaries – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and their cohorts – are laughing all the way to the bank.

 

US Navy plans to boost submarine spending to $5 billion by 2024

May 7, 2019

by John Bowden

The Hill

The U.S. Navy plans to increase yearly spending on its nuclear submarine program by $5 billion by 2024, according to a report sent to Congress by the Pentagon.

Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that the Navy plans to boost funding for the program by $2 billion in fiscal 2021, and increase the funding surge by $5 billion by 2024, according to the Navy’s Selected Acquisition Report sent to Congress last month.

The current level of funding for the program sits at $2.3 billion in the 2020 budget, according to Bloomberg.

The funding surge is part of a program initially begun under former President Obama and accelerated under the Trump administration to modernize and grow the size of the U.S. nuclear submarine fleet, retiring old Ohio-class submarines that entered production in the 1970s and replacing them with new Columbia-class submarines.

Numbers for the program’s funding could be set to change, however, the Government Accountability Office said last month that the Navy’s cost estimates for its submarine program are “not accurate because it relies on overly optimistic” labor estimates.

The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General announced last month that the sub program would be audited to “determine whether the Navy is managing the development” of the system to “ensure that it meets performance requirements without cost increases or schedule overruns,” the office wrote in its fiscal 2019 plan. The audit is expected to be completed next year.

 

Till debt do us part: Tuition loan burden is literally killing US college grads

May 8, 2019

by Robert Bridge

RT

The mounting cost of a US college degree has not only discouraged would-be students from pursuing a higher education; it has triggered mental health issues too. But is hyper-capitalist America ready for free education?

In addition to the daily pressure of passing exams amid the partying, college students in the United States are now encumbered with another serious stress: finding enough money to pay for their education in the first place. And as tuition costs continue to explode, the lender of last resort is no longer cash-strapped Mom and Dad, but some savvy financial service – and at considerable interest.

Last year, US student loan debt hit an all-time record of $1.465 trillion, more than double the $675 billion reported in June 2009 when the embers of the financial meltdown were still glowing.

That astronomic figure represents the second-highest category of US domestic liability, behind home mortgages. What is most worrying about this unprecedented debt load is that many of the estimated 44 million borrowers are having trouble returning it. More than one-in-10 borrowers is at least 90 days behind on their payments, according to Bloomberg Global Data.

Aside from proving that wages for new graduates have been less than stellar, there is a deep psychological toll that this indebted demographic must pay as well. According to a recent survey by Student Loan Planner, college graduates are experiencing high levels of emotional stress due to their current situations, to the point of actually contemplating suicide.

The survey of 829 people showed, among other things, that one-in-15 student loan borrowers have had suicidal thoughts due to their financial situation; nine-in-10 borrowers felt significant anxiety due to their loan burden; one-in-9 borrowers who owe $80,000 to $150,000 in student loan debt also contemplated suicide. And so on.

At this point, some may be asking themselves the $1.4 trillion question: Why isn’t a college education in the United States free-of-charge, exactly like it is in dozens of other countries? The short answer is that America is first and foremost a cutthroat corporate jungle that indulges in something that was summed up long ago as ‘socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.’ In other words, the entire system is rigged to the advantage of the rich. Indeed, it is the lower and middle class that must take out high-interest loans to pay for their educations, while the offspring of the golden one-percent are wealthy enough to pay cash, and in some cases even bribes, as one recent criminal investigation revealed. But some countries have shown that there just might be a better way.

Consider the case of Germany, for example. In 2014, this European economic powerhouse, the largest in the EU, scrapped tuition fees in all of its 16 republics.

“Tuition fees are socially unjust,”explained Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a minister from Hamburg, which canceled tuition payments in 2012.

Another German politician, Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic from the Green Party in Lower Saxony, said the tuition-free policy was endorsed because “we do not want higher education to depend on the wealth of the parents.”

In the United States, support for that sort of crazed egalitarian thinking, which promotes equal and fair treatment for all people regardless of background and social status, would get a person quickly exiled to some shark-infested archipelago as a socialist or a communist.

Consider, for example, the uphill political journey of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, a self-described ‘democratic socialist.’ This month, Sanders floated the idea of initiating a “tax on Wall Street greed” that would cover the cost of putting America through four years of university.

Although opponents of Sanders’ plan predictably argued it would “hurt America’s economy,” the same critics have never adequately explained how so many immensely wealthy Fortune 500 corporations are able to avoid paying their taxes year after year. Those disappeared tax dollars, much of which is sitting in offshore tax havens waiting for a so-called ‘tax holiday,’ could easily provide the funds to pay off a large chunk of America’s student loan debt. Trimming back military spending would also free up much of the necessary funds, although we have a better chance of viewing Sasquatch on Mars than denying the out-of-control military complex a single copper penny.

For reasons that remain a mystery, there is something deeply lodged in the American mind that connects any sort of unpaid service –  a ‘free’ education would in fact be covered by higher taxes, preferably on the free-riding corporations, but never mind – to the teachings of Karl Marx. That is unfortunate, especially when so many college grads, unable to find the high-paying jobs they were expecting upon graduation, are silently suffering the sting of exorbitant student loans that continue to go unpaid.

Much like healthcare, which the United States also refuses to provide to its citizens free-of-charge, a higher education is not a privilege specially reserved for a tiny wealthy elite, but a right for all citizens regardless of class or status. Instead of contemplating dark, self-destructive thoughts, Americans should speak out and demand far more in terms of social services from those free-wheeling, tax-avoiding corporations. Give the captains of industry a free lesson in both economics and equality they will not soon forget.

 

Trump blasts report on his business losses, calls accounting a ‘sport’

May 8, 2019

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump defended himself on Wednesday following a media report that said his businesses had lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994, saying he had leeway with his taxes as a real estate developer.

The report, published in the New York Times on Tuesday, detailed how his core businesses of casinos, hotels and apartment buildings had lost $1.17 billion over a decade, allowing him to avoid paying income taxes for eight of those 10 years.

Trump said he was allowed massive tax write-offs for depreciation and many “non monetary” losses, adding the report contained “very old information.”

“You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes … almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport,” Trump said in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have requested Trump’s tax returns as part of investigations into the president and possible conflicts of interest. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week refused a request for those documents, setting up a likely legal fight.

Though U.S. presidential candidates have traditionally released their tax returns during election campaigns, Trump has refused to do so. He also continues to own his businesses, though he has said his sons run the day-to-day operations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday tweeted that the report underscored the need for lawmakers to review Trump’s taxes, as allowed by law.

Separately, she told the Washington Post in an interview itwould be up to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal to decide the next steps over the tax return issue.

“He has a path,” Pelosi said, adding there were several options to move forward, including going to court.

Officials in New York state are also taking steps to seek the president’s tax returns, the New York Times has reported.

Trump has repeatedly said he could not release his tax documents because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

His former lawyer Michael Cohen, however, told a House panel in February that rather than an audit being underway, Trump feared releasing the tax information could lead to an audit and penalties.

Trump has previously warned that he considered any probe of his personal or business finances off limits, telling the Times in a July 2017 interview that any such scrutiny would be crossing a “red line.”

Reporting by Makini Brice, Richard Cowan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum

 

 

White House asserts executive privilege to block full Russia report release

May 8, 2019

by David Morgan

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Wednesday invoked the legal principle of executive privilege to block the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report as a U.S. House panel met to vote on holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over the document.

The White House’s move escalated a constitutional clash between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican President Donald Trump over its powers to investigate him, his administration, his family and his business interests.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said Trump’s moves to thwart subpoenas were obstructing oversight by lawmakers and inquiries into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, the subject of Mueller’s report.

“Every single day the president is making the case. He’s becoming self-impeachable,” Pelosi told the Washington Post, referring to the impeachment process in Congress to remove a president from office. Pelosi added that she believed that Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official and a Trump appointee, should be held in contempt of Congress.

Barr, who last month released a redacted 448-page version of the Mueller report on the findings of his 22-month inquiry, has refused to comply with a subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee to provide an unredacted version and its underlying evidence.

Executive privilege is a right claimed by presidents to withhold information about internal executive branch deliberations from other branches of government.

Democrats condemned the White House for claiming that right to defy the committee’s subpoena seeking the report.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the White House was misapplying the doctrine of executive privilege in “a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties.”

“I can only conclude that the president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the Constitution of the United States of America,” added Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.

The White House said the actions of Democrats forced the move.

“Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

Trump is stonewalling numerous investigations by House Democrats, ranging from Mueller’s probe to Trump’s tax returns and his past financial records and White House granting of high-level security clearances to member of his family. Court action is likely to follow.

The Judiciary Committee was slated to vote on a resolution recommending that the full House find Barr in contempt of Congress.

“The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the President’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy. Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” Sanders said.

‘MEAN-SPIRITED’

Judiciary Committee Republicans condemned the move toward holding Barr in contempt.

“What a cynical, mean-spirited, counterproductive and irresponsible step it is,” said the panel’s top Republican, Doug Collins.

Nadler subpoenaed the full document and all underlying evidence, saying the material was necessary for lawmakers to determine whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to impede the Mueller probe. Barr missed two subpoena deadlines for turning over the material, the latest on Monday.

Representative Matt Gaetz said the actions by the panel’s Democrats are “all about impeachment” of Trump, who is seeking re-election in 2020. Fellow Republican Representative Steve Chabot accused Democrats of trying to destroy and discredit Barr.

When the House was controlled by Republicans, it voted in 2012 to hold Eric Holder, attorney general under Democratic President Barack Obama, in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed Justice Department documents about a gun-running investigation called Operation Fast and Furious. It was the first time that Congress had held the top U.S. law enforcement official or any Cabinet member in contempt.

The redacted Mueller report details extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Moscow as well as the campaign’s expectation of benefiting from Russia’s actions. But Mueller said there was not sufficient evidence to show a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the campaign. The report also describes a series of actions Trump took to try to impede Mueller’s investigation.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration stymied a separate effort by House Judiciary Committee Democrats to subpoena records from former White House counsel Don McGahn, directing him not to provide the documents sought by the panel.

Mueller’s report said McGahn told investigators that Trump unsuccessfully pressured him to remove Mueller and then asked him to deny that Trump had done so. The accounts are based partly on the documents sought by House Democrats.

The Trump administration has refused to cooperate with congressional probes in at least a half-dozen instances, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision on Monday to deny a request for Trump’s tax returns from the Democratic chairman of the House tax committee.

Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Sarah N. Lynch, Richard Cowan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham

 

House Speaker Pelosi: Trump making impeachment case by ignoring subpoenas

May 8, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday President Donald Trump was moving closer to impeachment with his effort to thwart congressional subpoenas and obstruct lawmakers’ efforts to oversee his administration.

“Every single day the president is making the case” and “he’s becoming self-impeachable,” Pelosi said in an interview with the Washington Post, when asked about the possibility of the Republican president being impeached by the House.

Trump on Wednesday asserted executive privilege over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and its underlying investigative materials, escalating the battle with the Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

The move came shortly before the House Judiciary Committee was to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for defying a congressional subpoena to hand over the full unredacted report.

The Judiciary Committee is one of number of committees in the Democratic-controlled House that are investigating Trump and his administration on multiple fronts, including White House security clearances and Trump’s personal and business dealings.

The House and Senate still are investigating Russian election meddling and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

Mueller’s report cited extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Moscow but did not find a conspiracy between Moscow and the campaign. It also described actions that Trump took to try to impede the investigation and congressional Democrats have vowed to continue their own probe into the issue.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight all congressional subpoenas.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr faces a contempt citation by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for failing to comply with lawmakers’ requests, while former White House lawyer Don McGahn faces a similar threat.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also has defied Congress, this week not acting on the House Ways and Means Committee’s request for Trump’s tax returns.

Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, have dismissed House Democrats’ investigations as political posturing ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Democrats are divided over how far to take their investigations with some calling for impeachment proceedings and others backing continued panel investigations.

“The president … wants to goad us unto impeachment,” Pelosi told the Post. Such proceedings would also be “divisive” for the country, she said.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Bill Trott

 

Pelosi: Trump is becoming ‘self-impeachable’

May 8, 2019

by Caitlin Oprysko

Politico

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Wednesday that President Donald Trump is building his own case for impeachment by continuing to stonewall lawmakers in their demand for testimony and documents from the White House.

“He’s becoming self-impeachable in terms of some of the things he’s doing,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a live interview with The Washington Post.

The speaker has consistently sought to tamp down talk among the Democratic Caucus of impeaching the president, warning that the divisive process should not be taken lightly. On Tuesday and again on Wednesday, she said it was possible that Trump was looking to play on that division, “goading” Democratic lawmakers into initiating impeachment proceedings.

“Every single day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction, obstruction of having people come to the table with facts or ignoring subpoenas. Every single day, the president is making a case,” Pelosi told the Post’s Robert Costa.

The speaker had pointed out a day before that one of the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon charged that he obstructed Congress, but on Wednesday she wouldn’t commit to that kind of a narrow impeachment push against Trump.

Pelosi also asserted that Attorney General William Barr should be held in contempt for his refusal to release an unredacted version of the Mueller report but stopped short of saying that he should be impeached.

While she acknowledged that certain parts of Mueller’s findings needed to be protected, she argued that lawmakers had tried to accommodate some of those concerns when the White House intervened.

“The accommodations the committee has tried to make, whether it’s about sources and methods … I appreciate protecting sources and methods, some law enforcement concerns. That’s not a reason to give us the report. It’s an excuse not to give us the report, because we all agree that certain things should be redacted,” she said. “But they were in the course of accommodations and boom — the administration just said ‘We’re going to make this executive privilege.’”

The House Judiciary Committee is set to meet Wednesday to vote to formally cite Barr with contempt for missing the committee’s self-imposed deadline for turning over the full report last week.

Pelosi noted that Wednesday’s contempt motion did not factor in that Barr refused to appear before the Judiciary Committee last week, objecting to being grilled by committee staff in addition to lawmakers. She took a swipe at Barr’s no-show, suggesting he felt “safer in the Republican majority in the Senate,” where he had testified the day before.

 

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