Headlines: May 21, 2019
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Former White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to respect a Congressional subpoena to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday becoming the second official from President Donald Trump’s administration to refuse Congress’ wishes in the past month. Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler’s anger was palpable in his opening statement during the short meeting vowing that President Trump will be held accountable after former White House Counsel Don McGahn ignored a subpoena to testify. In a letter to the committee ahead of the hearing McGahn’s lawyer wrote that his client is,“conscious of the duties he, as an attorney, owes to his former client.” In other words, McGahn was taking direction from Trump.
In related news, a federal judge ruled against Trump over his financial records. The House Oversight committee had subpoenaed Trump’s former accounting firm Mazars USA for the President’s business records and the White House sued to stop the company from turning over the data. In a 41-page ruling a judge in DC decided the President’s suit had no standing. Meanwhile the President has slammed a New York Times report on Deutchebank that was released on Sunday that showed the bank’s staff flagging Trump and his son-in-law’s transactions for suspicious activity and bank executives overriding their concerns. The House Financial Services and House Intelligence Committees have both subpoenaed Deutchebank for Trump’s records. The bank, hungry to do business in the US had loaned Trump’s businesses and Kushner companies hundreds of millions of dollars and was the only major bank willing to issues loans to Trump.
Trump’s former Attorney Michael Cohen’s closed-door testimony to a House committee this past March was made public in part on Monday night. The transcripts show that Cohen warned members of Congress that Trump attorney Jay Sekulow shaped his 2017 testimony to Congress about how negotiations for a Trump Tower Moscow went well into Trump’s Presidential campaign. And, negotiations are under way right now between Special Counsel Robert Mueller and House Judiciary Committee members for the circumstances of his testimony. Mr. Mueller wants part of his hearing to be behind closed doors while Democrats want to make it all public.
Given the White House’s continued stonewalling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly facing serious pressure from her own colleagues to begin impeachment proceedings. The Washington Post reported that members of Pelosi’s leadership team have been pressing her to, “begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump in a series of Monday night meetings, according to multiple officials in the rooms.” She has faced strong pressure from Representative Nadler in particular, but so far she has stood firm against it. Meanwhile Michigan Republican Congressman and self-described libertarian Justin Amash said he believes that, “Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report and that the President has, “engaged in impeachable conduct.” Amash, who has drawn the ire of his GOP colleagues for taking such a position, may be considering a primary challenge to Trump.
President Trump held rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania on Monday during which he spent an hour rambling on a variety of topics of great interest to his supporters. Among the stranger things to emerge from his mouth was an attack on Presidential candidate Joe Biden for moving away from Pennsylvania. Biden was 10 or 11 years old when his family left the state for Delaware. He also egged his crowd to chant “lock them up,” in response to his anger over Democrats investigating him. And he slammed his favorite network Fox News for hosting a televised town hall meeting with South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg. Trump spoke ahead of a special election in Pennsylvania to fill the seat vacated by Republican Tom Marino who resigned earlier this year. Republican Fred Keller and Democrat Marc Friedenberg are vying against one another on Tuesday.
Ahead of his Pennsylvania rally where Trump also touted his role in a robust economy, Ford Motor Company announced it was laying off thousands of workers. Ford CEO Jim Hackett sent a letter to his employees titled “Smart Redesign Update,” announcing that 800 would lose their jobs by June and that a total of 7,000 people would be let go globally by the end of August. Instead of spelling out that they were being laid off, Hackett talked in terms of “team members” that would be “separated” from the company. The White House did not respond yet to the announcement.
Former Kansas State Secretary Kris Kobach wants to be Trump’s new Secretary of Homeland Security. Kobach, who had been a member of Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, has made it his life’s mission to attack immigrants. The New York Times just obtained an internal list of demands that Kobach made to the White House as conditions for taking a lead role on immigration policy that include an office in the West Wing, 24-hour access to a jet, weekends off to be with his family in Kansas, and authority to be the nation’s main spokesperson on immigration. Kobach’s list also includes a guarantee for the job of Homeland Security secretary by this November. The Times reported that some White House staffers, “were taken aback by what they regard as its presumptuousness.” Meanwhile a fifth immigrant child had died while in US custody since late last year. A 16-year old boy from Guatemala was found to be unresponsive at a Border Patrol station in Southern Texas on Monday morning more than two months after he was detained. The news comes just a week after a 2-year old child died in Border Patrol’s custody.
And finally longtime Southern California based activist and Chicano leader Nativo Lopez has died. Lopez was a frequent guest on Pacifica Radio on issues of immigrant and workers rights. He led the organization Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana for many years and was battling gastrointestinal cancer for several months when he passed away at the age of only 68.