Headlines: April 1, 2019
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A former White House Security adviser-turned-whistleblower named Tricia Newbold told members of Congress on Monday morning that the Trump administration had taken actions that compromised national security. Newbold is a longtime staffer and in transcribed interview with the House Oversight and Reform Committee she explained how Trump officials had overturned at least 25 security clearances that, “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security.” In a document that summarized her allegations, Newbold reportedly said, “I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security.” She added, “I feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office.” The chair of the House Committee, Elijah Cummings has said he wants to subpoena White House officials to further investigate Newbold’s claims. Among those whose security clearance decisions are known to have been reversed are Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
In other news, the House Judiciary Committee expects to hold a vote on Wednesday to subpoena the Mueller report, a day after a deadline that it had given the Justice Department for the report’s release. Attorney General William Barr has said he will release a redacted version of the report in mid-April but Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler had said he wants the, “full and complete report,” including the evidence that Mueller’s team gathered. In an op-ed published on Monday in the New York Times, Mr. Nadler warned, “If the department is unwilling to produce the full report voluntarily, then we will do everything in our power to secure it for ourselves.” He explained, “We have every reason to suspect that the unedited obstruction section of the Mueller report resembles the report that Congress received from the Watergate grand jury in 1974.” The Watergate report apparently, “did not recommend that the president should be prosecuted. It did not say the president should be impeached. It simply stated the evidence so that Congress could do its job.”
In news on immigration, President Donald Trump announced by tweet late last week that he would be closing the US border with Mexico. Over the weekend White House staffers including Counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed that it was a serious threat saying in an interview on Fox News Sunday, “It certainly isn’t a bluff. You can take the president seriously.” Meanwhile the US State Department announced over the weekend to cut aid from three Central American nations: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The move would affect about $500 million in unspent funds that were appropriated to fund counter-narcotics programs. Just a day earlier Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen had signed a “memorandum of cooperation” with Central American nations and the State Department’s decision to cut funds appears to have taken many by surprise.
Here in the US, immigrant rights activists in Miami, Florida shone lights on a detention center holding migrant children as part of a protest. The Homestead migrant shelter has been the focus of local protests and according to the Miami Herald activists projected messages onto the building that said things like, “Shut it down” and “Homes Instead.” Homestead is apparently the only temporary shelter for refugee children that is still operating. And in another part of the country, immigrant detainees themselves launched a protest. At least two dozen detained migrants at the River Correctional Center in Ferriday, Louisiana have started a hunger strike. According to AP, the hunger strikers, “say they are frustrated with the poor attention to their cases and being denied bond.”
The state of Georgia has passed a so-called fetal heartbeat bill, banning most abortions six weeks into a pregnancy – which is about the time when many women first discover they are pregnant. Republican Governor Brian Kemp hailed the bill that passed along party lines and promised to sign it into law. Georgia now joins Kentucky and Mississippi in attempting to ban women’s constitutional rights to control their own bodies. Legal challenges are likely to prevent any of the laws from taking effect, but anti-abortion activists hope one of them will make it to the Supreme Court.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared in interviews on CNN and ABC News on Sunday to defend the Trump Administration’s decision to try to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act. In both interviews he claimed that no one would lose their health insurance as a result, and in particular he took on the ACA ban on insurance discrimination against people with so-called “pre-existing conditions.” Mulvaney was on ABC’s ‘This Week’ speaking with host Jonathan Carl guaranteeing that people will not lose coverage if Trump has his way to overturn the ACA. So far there is no evidence that the White House has any sort of healthcare plan in place to replace the ACA.
In an article in New York Magazine on March 29th, former Assemblywoman from Nevada, Lucy Flores shared an experience she had had in 2014 with then Vice President Joe Biden. In it Flores detailed how Biden, who had shown up to support her campaign, and who she had only just met, came up behind her, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair, and kissed the back of her head. She wrote, “I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before. Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused.” Biden, who is a 2020 Presidential hopeful, responded saying in a statement, “Not once – never – did I believe that I acted inappropriately.”
And finally in international news, Britain’s Parliament on Monday held a series of votes to find a way out of the political quagmire that is Brexit. Associated Press explained, “With just 12 days until the U.K. must come up with a new plan or crash out of the bloc in chaos, the House of Commons was considering four alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular Brexit deal.” But May has apparently ruled out all those options. Parliament has now voted down her proposals, carefully negotiated with the European Union, three times. The EU has mandated April 12th as its own deadline for Britain to exit.