Headlines: July 24, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:28 — 7.7MB)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave public testimony to two House committees on Wednesday about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice. In his opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller said this. House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler wasted no time in getting to the heart of why Democrats held the hearing – to make clear that the report did not exonerate the President as he has repeatedly claimed. Democratic Representative Ted Lieu continued that line of questioning. Republican Representative Ken Buck questioned Mueller about indicting a president after he leaves office. Meanwhile President Trump went off on social media firing off tweet after tweet to counter what he considers a “witch hunt.”
A day before the Mueller hearing FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the GOP’s efforts to investigate the origins of the Special Counsel probe. During his testimony Wray shared a statistic that has received very little news coverage about domestic terrorism. Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the majority of domestic terrorism cases that the FBI has investigated involve white supremacist violence.
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll has just found that a majority of Americans consider the chants heard at Trump’s North Carolina rally of “Send Her Back” to be racist. The chants were in response to Trump’s frenzied whipping up of hate aimed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a refugee and the first Somali American member of Congress. Fifty eight percent of Americans felt the chants were racist. But among Republicans alone that number was only 24%.
On Tuesday Trump addressed an ultra right-wing youth summit organized by Turning Point USA, a group whose leaders are documented white supremacists. During his speech he denounced Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim American woman of color, as a “crazed lunatic,” and continued his attacks on other members of the Squad of Congresswomen of color. He also disturbingly made a claim about having the Constitutional power to do whatever he wants.
On Tuesday Trump filed a suit in federal court to stop the Democratic Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain his state tax returns after the state of New York passed a law allowing it. Democrats in the House responded by getting ready to pass a measure strengthening their standing to subpoena Trump’s financial information.
The US Senate on Tuesday finally approved a broadly bi-partisan bill to fund until 2092 compensation for the families of first responders to September 11th attacks. The vote passed 97 to 2 and came after months of delays. Political commentator and comedian Jon Stewart made it his mission to advocate on behalf of the first responders and used his celebrity to pressure Congress.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bipartisan resolution to condemn movements that encourage a boycott of Israel saying that such an effort, “promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace.” The resolution is directly aimed at the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is modeled on the anti-Apartheid boycott movement against South Africa. House members brushed aside the objections of several newly elected members of Congress in a vote of 398 to 17.
In immigration news, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Trump Administration’s new rule to deny asylum to those who pass through a third country before entering the US. The rule can be applied while lawsuits challenging it wend their way through the courts. And, immigration authorities finally released an 18-year old natural born US citizen who had been arrested and detained for 3 weeks. Francisco Galicia was born in Dallas, Texas but immigration officials refused to believe the documentation he presented proving he was a citizen.
Newly unsealed documents from a drug company in a landmark lawsuit on the opioid crisis have revealed the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry. According to the Washington Post, the files, “show the pressure within drug companies to sell opioids in the face of numerous red flags during the height of the epidemic,” and reveal, “the ignored concerns of some employees about the huge volume of pain pills streaming across the nation.”
The Justice Department says it has opened a broad inquiry into whether big technology firms such as Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are in violation of antitrust regulations. The DOJ will be opening the review together with the Federal Trade Commission.
A new report by the group United 4 Respect has found that private equity firms are buying up corporate chains and their actions have resulted in a greater likelihood of bankruptcies. The resulting job losses total about 1.3 million and have hit women and people of color the hardest.
And the Center for Environmental Health also released a report that studied the presence of the Monsanto weed killer Glyphosate in human bloodstreams and found that a whopping 90% of the group that volunteered had been recently exposed to the toxin.
Reports emerged on Wednesday that Puerto Rico’s embattled governor Ricardo Rosselló is expected to offer his resignation after 2 weeks of sustained protests against him. As of this recording he has yet to resign.
In international news China has hinted that it might resort to military force in order to quell mass protests in Hong Kong, a former British territory that has fought for greater autonomy from China. And finally Boris Johnson has formally transitioned into the role of British Prime Minister. In his first address as PM, Johnson, who has been derided as the UK’s Trump, said, “The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters, they are going to get it wrong, again. The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts, because we’re going to restore trust in our democracy.”