Headlines: March 5, 2019
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More details have emerged about the sweeping House Judiciary Committee investigation into President Donald Trump and his associates. Committee chair Jerrold Nadler sent letters to 81 people publicly requesting documents. Among those who received document requests are the White House, two of the Trump children: Eric and Donald Jr., as well as the Trump Organization and Trump campaign; Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kusher and his company, former Administration members such Jeff Sessions, Sean Spicer, and Steve Bannon; as well as organizations like Wikileaks and the NRA. In an interview on CNN’s Outfront Mr. Nadler explained that while Trump’s daughter Ivanka was not on the initial list for document requests, she too could become part of the investigation.
Hours after Nadler’s document requests, Representatives Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight committee, and Eliot Engel, chair of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee, requested more documents from the White House and the State Department on conversations between President Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The same three committees had in late February sought answers to their questions about Trump-Putin communications but the White House did not meet their deadline. Monday’s demand expands on the earlier requests. In their letter requesting documents the committee chairpersons wrote, “According to media reports, President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal the details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials, Congress, and the American people… The President reportedly seized notes pertaining to at least one meeting held with President Putin and directed at least one American interpreter not to discuss the substance of communications with President Putin with other federal officials.”
In news from the Special Counsel’s investigation, Mr. Robert Mueller has notified a federal judge of a possible gag order violation by Trump associate Roger Stone. Stone has been warned in the past against making public statements about the investigation and was under a strict gag order by Judge Amy Berman in late February. On Monday Mueller filed a document detailing Stone’s new Instagram post titled “Who Framed Roger Stone,” that publicizing his legal defense fund.
The Senate is readying a vote on President Trump’s border national emergency declaration next week. With at least 4 Republican Senators committed to voting against Trump, and a number remaining on the fence, the White House on Monday attempted to do damage control. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said, “I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president and then, in all likelihood, the veto will be upheld in the House.” The House needs a 2/3rds majority to override the President’s veto. Last week Trump warned Republicans voting against him on Fox News saying, “I really think that Republicans that vote against border security and the wall — I think you know, I’ve been okay at predicting things — I think they put themselves at great jeopardy.”
In immigration news, a group of 29 parents were allowed to reenter the United States after deportation because their children remained in US custody. The parents were among those whose children were taken away from them by the Trump Administration as part of its family separation policy last summer. They had traveled back to the border and remained at the Calexico port of entry but were initially told by Border Patrol that they were at capacity. Then, with the help of immigration attorneys the parents were finally let in and processed. ABC News, which covered it, detailed one story of 31-year old Jesus whose 6-year old son Ariel was taken from him. According to Jesus, authorities, “tore my son from my arms and I was ordered to place my hands on the wall. When I turned around, I couldn’t see my son, but I could hear his cries.” He said, “I cried inconsolably.” He explained that when he had been deported he was tricked as an officer told him that his son, “was probably on his way or would be on his way a couple days after, because there was a special plane that would only take minors.” Jesus and others in the group of 29 are still waiting to be reunited with their children.
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar is once more in the crosshairs of her own party after making comments about Israel and its influence on American lawmakers. At a town hall meeting last week Omar reportedly said that the pro-Israel lobby encourages, “allegiance to a foreign country” and that the charge of anti-Semitism that she and others face, is “designed to end the debate” about Palestinian rights. Fellow Democrat Eliot Engel labeled her comments as a, “vile, anti-Semitic slur.” Omar, who some weeks ago apologized for a different set of comments on the same topic, shot back on Twitter this time, writing, “I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.” Representative Nita Lowey also attacked Omar saying, “Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel.” To that, Omar replied, “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats are planning to bring a vote to the House floor on Wednesday addressing anti-Semitism but not mentioning Omar by name.
Meanwhile, a group of Senators had a closed door meeting with Trump administration officials on Monday over Trump’s continued inaction against Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The senators had invoked the so-called Global Magnitsky Act and demanded that Trump gather more information on Khashoggi’s killing and explore sanctions against Saudi Arabia. They came out of Monday’s meeting frustrated that nothing had been done. Also on Monday the Washington Post published an op-ed about a dual US-Saudi citizen named Walid Fitaihi, who is apparently being tortured in Saudi custody. Khashoggi had covered Fitaihi’s case.
And finally doctors are hailing the success of a stem cell transplant in a man who had been diagnosed with HIV AIDS. The patient, who remains unidentified, is in London, England, and is only the second person to have successfully been cured of AIDS. A German man named Timothy Ray Brown remains AIDS free 12 years after being cured using the same therapy.