WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department said on Monday that it would not release President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, defying a request from House Democrats and setting up a legal battle likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, wrote in a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that Mr. Neal’s request for the tax returns “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” and that he was not authorized to disclose them. The decision came after weeks of delays as Mr. Mnuchin said that his department and the Justice Department needed to study the provision of the tax code that Democrats were using to seek six years’ worth of the president’s personal and business tax returns. The request for Mr. Trump’s taxes is the latest instance of the Trump administration rebuffing congressional oversight efforts.
First it was the former White House counsel. Now it is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. In both cases, President Trump — seemingly petrified of witnesses concerning a report in which he claims to have been exonerated — has tried to suppress testimony from those with the most damning evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice. The Post reports, “President Trump said Sunday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should not testify before Congress, reversing course from his previous position that the decision is up to Attorney General William P. Barr. ‘Bob Mueller should not testify,’ Trump said in an afternoon tweet. ‘No redos for the Dems!’” The House Judiciary Committee is seeking to have Mueller testify on May 15.
A Chinese delegation will come to the U.S. this week for trade talks after President Donald Trump upended negotiations by threatening new tariffs on Sunday, according to sources familiar with the matter. One of the sources briefed on the status of talks said the Chinese would send a smaller delegation than the 100-person group originally planned. It is unclear whether Vice Premier Liu He would still helm this smaller group, an important detail if the team were traveling to Washington with an eye toward sealing a deal. Two senior administration officials described Liu as “the closer,” since he had been given authority to negotiate on President Xi Jinping’s behalf. The team from Beijing was set to start talks with American negotiators on Wednesday as the world’s two largest economies push for a trade agreement. It is unclear whether the talks will still start Wednesday.
“We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report," the former federal prosecutors said in a statement. President Donald Trump would have been indicted for obstruction of justice in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation if he did not hold the nation’s highest office, more than 370 former federal prosecutors argued in an open letter publish on Medium on Monday. The ex-prosecutors — who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower — said Attorney General William Barr's decision not to charge Trump with obstruction "runs counter to logic and our experience." The letter added, “Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.” “We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report," the letter continued.
Washington (CNN) - Hundreds of former Justice Department officials said in an open letter released Monday that President Donald Trump would be facing multiple felony charges stemming from the Russia investigation if he were not President. The letter posted online by Justice Department alumni, who served under presidents from both parties, said the report from special counsel Robert Mueller contained repeated instances of Trump committing obstruction of justice, and that he would have been charged with obstruction if he was not protected as President by an opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that Mueller cited. "We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report," the letter read. The letter was posted to Medium and said it was being updated by the group Protect Democracy, a nonprofit group that has combated the Trump administration. CNN has reached out to Protect Democracy regarding the letter. The letter was signed by officials from a wide-range of backgrounds, and included former US attorneys and other top officials from both parties. The Washington Post, which previously reported on the letter, which said signatories to the letter included officials whose time in government included every administration since President Dwight Eisenhower.
“His assertion generally that the Chinese are paying these tariffs is just simply nonsense. It’s a complete misunderstanding of how tariffs work," said one senior economist. In threatening an escalation of a trade war with China over the weekend, President Donald Trump asserted that the tariffs already in place have boosted the economy. “These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results,” he tweeted on Sunday. Economists disagree.
“It’s pretty hard to justify the argument that tariffs have strengthened the economy,” said Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America. “In the first quarter GDP report, there was a very sharp reduction in imports. Of course that makes GDP look bigger, so that would be a result of the tariffs coming into play. However, that is not a way to grow an economy,” he said. "The economy has done well in spite of the tariffs,” said Michael O. Moore, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University. Moore said the domestic economy is thriving because of other Trump administration initiatives like deregulation and a big corporate tax cut, along with low interest rates.
Stocks tumbled Monday after President Donald Trump threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The development comes amid ongoing trade talks between the U.S. and China. Goldman Sachs noted that Mr. Trump's action suggests the U.S. has reached a "sticking point" in negotiations. The Dow fell more than 350 points, or 1.3 percent, in the first 10 minutes of trading Monday. Other indices also dropped, including the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite, where companies like Apple, Qualcomm and Broadcom, which rely heavily on Chinese business, took especially big hits, falling more than 3 percent each in early trading. According to data provider FactSet, 64.7 percent of Qualcomm's revenue comes from China. Broadcom's Chinese revenue is 48 percent of its total and Apple gets nearly one-fifth of its revenue from world's second largest economy.
Two US Navy destroyers challenged China's excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea Monday, angering Beijing. The guided-missile destroyers USS Preble and USS Chung-Hoon conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of two Chinese-occupied reefs in the Spratly Islands, US Navy 7th Fleet spokesman Commander Clay Doss told Reuters. The operation, the third by the US Navy in the South China Sea this year, was specifically intended "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law," he said.
Beijing was critical of the operation, condemning it with rhetoric it has used to express its displeasure with some previous operations. "The relevant moves by the U.S. warships have infringed on China's sovereignty and undermined peace and security in relevant waters. We firmly oppose that," Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a press briefing Monday.
Washington – The United States is deploying forces to the Middle East, in response to what administration officials say are threats of a possible attack by Iran or allied fighters on American troops in the region. White House national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement Sunday night that the U.S. is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region, an area that includes the Middle East. Bolton said the move was in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings." He didn't provide details, but said the U.S. wants to send a "clear and unmistakable" message to Iran that "unrelenting force" would meet any attack on U.S. interests or those of its allies.
"The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces," he said.
President Trump said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller should not testify before Congress — reversing his position from days ago, when he said he'd defer to Attorney General William Barr. Across two tweets, Mr. Trump wrote, "why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller...to testify. Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion?" Mr. Trump added, "Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!" Mr. Trump's tweet came soon after Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, announced that he is working on arranging Mueller's testimony. The Rhode Island congressman said he is hoping to bring Mueller in on May 15, but a date hasn't been confirmed.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said at a campaign stop in Iowa on Saturday that he would vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt if he were in the House. "We had an attorney general of the United States who refused to come to a hearing that the House Judiciary Committee called," Sanders said at a town hall in Perry, Iowa. "If I were a member of the House, I would vote to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt," he added. "He was asked to testify, he refused to testify, he refused to provide the information that the House wanted, and that is unacceptable."
Columbia, South Carolina -- Former Vice President Joe Biden rang the alarm that "Jim Crow is sneaking back" at a campaign rally in South Carolina, the south's first primary state that is seen as key to clinching the Democratic nomination. Biden launched his third bid for the presidency on April 25 in Pennsylvania, and crisscrossed Iowa before heading to South Carolina this weekend. Biden held a campaign rally Saturday in Columbia, the Palmetto State's capital and home to the University of South Carolina. Bidden added to his usual fighting-for-the-middle-class stump speech by calling for protecting voting rights and ending "systemic racism." Biden cited numerous states' voting laws which he said are "mostly directed at people of color."
JEJU, South Korea — When North Korea launched a volley of projectiles off its east coast on Saturday, it sought to escalate the pressure on President Trump to return to the negotiating table with a compromise on easing sanctions, analysts said, by signaling that it could scuttle his biggest diplomatic achievement with the North. Saturday’s weapons tests were the most serious by the North since the country launched its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles in November 2017. Although North Korea has not gone so far as to renege on its moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests, which its leader, Kim Jong-un, announced last year, the Saturday launch indicated that Mr. Kim was toying with the idea of lifting the moratorium, analysts said. Mr. Trump has repeatedly described the moratorium as his biggest achievement on North Korea, citing it as proof that his diplomacy with Mr. Kim has been working. The leaders have met twice: first in Singapore in June and again in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February.
Attorney General William Barr's refusal to appear before the House Judiciary Committee did accomplish one thing, according to Rep. Jaime Raskin, D-Md. "They have succeeded in building a near unanimous sense in the Democratic Caucus that the executive branch of government is in defiance of the Constitution and the rule of law," said Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who sits on both the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. Barr, already under steady attack from Democrats in both the House and Senate, declined to appear Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee because he did not want to be questioned by committee lawyers, only members. Democrats refused to accommodate Barr because Raskin said there's a bigger constitutional principle at stake. "He doesn't dictate to us how we conduct hearings in Congress," he said.
Last month, the White House complained to Attorney General William Barr about special counsel Robert Mueller's findings.
President Trump described his hour-long phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to reporters on Friday, and said the leader “sort of smiled” when they discussed the Mueller Report. “He said it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse, but he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever,” Trump said. In his report, Mueller concluded that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election in a “sweeping” fashion but did not find that the Trump campaign colluded with them. When asked whether he thought Mueller should testify before Congress, Trump said that it was up to Attorney General William Barr, who is doing a “fantastic job.” The president also said they talked about the presidential crisis in Venezuela. Putin told him he was “not looking at all to get involved” in the situation, he said. The Kremlin later released their own readout of the call, which made no mention of the Mueller Report.
President Donald Trump doesn't want former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before Congress, telling Fox News' Catherine Herridge, "It's done." "Congress shouldn't be looking anymore," Trump said in a Thursday-night interview. "This is all. It's done." "Nobody has ever done what I've done," he continued. "I've given total transparency. It's never happened before like this. They shouldn't be looking anymore. It's done." McGahn, who spent 30 hours testifying be special counsel Robert Mueller's office, featured largely in Mueller's findings on potential obstruction of justice — which made up one of two volumes in Mueller's full report on the Russia investigation.
Blackwater founder Erik Prince arranged for political activist James O’Keefe’s conservative group Project Veritas to receive more than one round of “training in intelligence and elicitation techniques,” The Intercept reports. In 2016, the self-styled “guerrilla journalist” group reportedly got lessons from a retired military intelligence operative. The training lasted several weeks and ended with the operative, Euripides Rubio Jr., reportedly quitting because the group “wasn’t capable of learning.” In 2017, Prince next set Project Veritas up with a former British MI6 officer in hopes of turning the organization into “domestic spies,” according to report. At the time, O’Keefe posted social-media photos of the event at Prince’s Wyoming ranch, claiming he was training in “spying and self-defense” and planned to turn Project Veritas into “the next great intelligence agency.”
The attorney general of the United States misled the country about an investigation implicating the president. Then he lied to Congress. Then he did something worse: He effectively said that the president of the United States is above the law. William Barr should resign. My first experience in public service was as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. That office within the Department of Justice was populated then, and is now, with men and women of extraordinary talent, love of country and dedication to the impartial enforcement of the law. The public servants there and in similar offices around the country deserve an attorney general who shares their abiding commitment to the rule of law, demonstrates strength and independence, speaks truth to power and represents no one person, but all Americans.
During his four-hour back and forth with senators on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr questioned, and at times seemed to contradict, key findings in special counsel Robert Mueller's report. Time and again, faced with questions from probing Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats about the report's contents, Barr also seemed unfamiliar with some of the report's significant details. When Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., brought up how then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort shared polling data in August 2016 with his former business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik -- identified by prosecutors as having ties to Russian intelligence -- Barr struggled.
A popular meme purportedly pits the 2016 Graham against the 2019 version of the senator. - Republicans are hypocrites many of them had said bad things about Trump. Republicans want to investigate anyone except Republicans who has said some bad thigs about Trump. How many Republicans are calling for investigations into Republicans who have said bad things about Trump? None, there are no calls to investigate Republicans who have said bad things about Trump.
A three-judge federal panel unanimously ruled Friday that Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional district map is unconstitutional, and ordered the creation of a new map in time for the 2020 election. This is the latest in a series of decisions across the country striking down partisan maps, including in neighboring Michigan and Pennsylvania. Plus, Supreme Court rulings are pending for cases out of North Carolina and Maryland.
(CNN) - In an interview with Fox News' Catherine Herridge Thursday night, President Donald Trump was asked about the Mueller report and the possibility of former and current aides being called before Congress to testify amid ongoing oversight investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
"Nobody has ever done what I've done," Trump replied. "I've given total transparency. It's never happened before like this."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the two leaders spoke by phone for an hour on Friday. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Friday and both agreed "there was no collusion" between Moscow and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. Sanders said that the two briefly discussed special counsel Robert Mueller's report "essentially in the context of that it's over and there was no collusion." She added that she was "pretty sure both leaders were very well aware of (the Mueller report's finding) long before this call took place" because it was "something we've said for the better part of two and a half years."
The notes, scribbled rapidly on a legal pad, captured the fear inside the White House when President Trump raged over the Russia investigation and decreed he was firing the FBI director who led it: “Is this the beginning of the end?” The angst-filled entry is part of a shorthand diary that chronicled the chaotic days in Trump’s West Wing, a trove that the special counsel report cited more than 65 times as part of the evidence that the president sought to blunt a criminal investigation bearing down on him.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is making what he calls a final “counter offer” to Attorney General William Barr’s refusal to grant immediate access to the underlying evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. In a new letter to Barr on Friday, Nadler (D-N.Y.) is giving the Justice Department until 9 a.m. Monday to comply with his adjusted request before moving forward with an effort to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a committee subpoena demanding Mueller’s full unredacted report and underlying documents by May 1.
Senate Republicans warn the president he can’t replace NAFTA without dropping his tariffs. Before President Donald Trump can get his new North American trade deal passed, he’s got to overcome stiff congressional opposition — from his own party. Senate Republicans say that unless the president removes steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies, his NAFTA replacement isn’t going anywhere. And that’s assuming the president doesn’t follow through with his threat to impose new levies on foreign auto companies, many of which have factories in Southern GOP senators’ backyards.
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's outside-the-box picks for administration posts have long contributed to the allure of his "drain the swamp" mantra. Yet for many of those selections, a life spent outside the "box" -- paired with the President's own rush to name his nominees before they are properly vetted -- have proven ill-fated. Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, two of his picks to sit on the board of the Federal Reserve, have withdrawn their names from contention when it became clear their backgrounds were too pocked even for many Republicans. Dr. Ronny Jackson, his choice to run the Veterans Affairs department, was felled by allegations he improperly dispensed medication in his role as the President's physician. Heather Nauert, who Trump elevated to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew because a nanny she employed didn't have proper work papers.
BOSTON — The billionaire founder of the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics and four other top executives were found guilty on Thursday in a scheme involving bribes and kickbacks to physicians who prescribed large amounts of a fentanyl spray to patients who didn't need the painkiller. After 15 days of deliberations, a jury in Boston federal court reached a first-ever conviction of a drug company CEO in the federal government's fight to combat the opioid crisis, finding the Arizona-based company's founder and former chairman John Kapoor guilty of racketeering conspiracy charges. Also found guilty were: Richard M. Simon, the company's former national director of sales; Sunrise Lee and Joseph A. Rowan, both onetime regional sales directors; and former Vice President of Managed Markets, Michael J. Gurry.