Headlines: May 29, 2019
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller addressed the public on Wednesday morning for the first time since the inquiry he conducted began. Speaking for just over 9 minutes Mueller announced his resignation as Special Counsel, asserted that he would not reveal anything in Congressional testimony that wasn’t already in his report, and, most importantly, did not clear President Donald Trump of wrong doing on the issue of obstruction of justice. Predictably President Trump had an entirely different interpretation of Mueller’s comments, tweeting immediately that, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.” Trump was referring only to the Russia-collusion aspect of the case and ignored the section on obstruction.
House Judiciary committee chair Jerrold Nadler responded soon after Mueller’s remarks, saying in a statement that, “the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s report, and is lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion.” He added, “Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump.” Mr. Nadler did not mention the word “impeachment.” Meanwhile on Tuesday Republican congressman Justin Amash who is the first GOP lawmaker to publicly call for Trump’s impeachment, received a standing ovation at a town hall meeting.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is being roundly criticized for comments made on Tuesday at an event where a reporter asked him if he would fill a vacant Supreme Court seat next year. McConnell had led the Republican charge in refusing to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat in President Barack Obama’s last year in office saying it was up to the newly elected President to do so. But with the 2020 election coming up, McConnell appears to have reversed his standards. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer responded on Twitter calling McConnell a “hypocrite.” He said, “McConnell lives for GOP judges because he knows the GOP agenda is so radical & unpopular they can only achieve it in courts. Anyone who believes he’d ever allow confirmation of a Dem President’s nominee for SCOTUS is fooling themselves.”
Two Democratic Presidential candidates are calling attention to Trump’s military deferments in an attempt to showcase his hypocrisy toward war veterans. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, both of whom are vets themselves, have led the charges. Buttigieg said this week of Trump, “This is somebody who, I think it’s fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was a child of a multimillionaire in order to pretend to be disabled so that somebody could go to war in his place.” He added, “I don’t have a problem standing up to somebody who was working on Season 7 of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan.” Mr. Moulton said in an interview over the weekend, “I don’t think that lying to get out of serving your country is patriotic. …I’d like to meet the American hero who went in Donald Trump’s place to Vietnam. I hope he’s still alive.” According to the Washington Post, “The critiques mark the first time that Trump has been confronted so directly on allegations of draft-dodging.”
The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday announced new rules for participating in Presidential debates, intended to thin out the large and growing field of candidates vying for the 2020 party nomination. Candidates will have to garner at least 2% of support in four different polls sponsored by the Democratic Party in order to qualify for the third televised debate. They will also need to prove that they have financial support from at least 130,000 donors and that at least 400 of those donors have to be spread out over 20 states. An assessment by FiveThirtyEight.com found that only 8 candidates are so far polling with at least 2% support.
Alabama’s disgraced Republican politician Roy Moore has begun openly considering running for a Senate seat once more. In a special election in 2017 Moore, who faces credible accusations of pedophilia, lost a reliably Republican seat to Democrat Doug Jones. President Trump, who backed Moore then, does not want him to run once more, saying in a tweet on Tuesday, “Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama.” He added, “If Alabama does not elect a Republican to the Senate in 2020, many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost, including our Pro-Life victories. Roy Moore cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating….Judges and Supreme Court Justices!” But Moore said in an interview with Associated Press, “I think the president is coming under pressure from people in Washington, scared that I will run for the Senate, scared I will win and know I can win.”
A new study by the non-partisan group Congressional Research Service has concluded that the GOP and Trump’s signature tax reform law has not reaped the rewards for American workers or the economy that its supporters touted. The study found that the law has not paid for itself, has not helped to raise wages, and has not had a significant positive impact on the economy. Republicans, who claimed when the law was being debated that it would help ordinary Americans, have notably stopped talking publicly about its impact. Those individuals and corporations who did benefit, rather than pouring their financial gains into worker salaries or bonuses, have instead engaged in more than $1 trillion worth of stock buybacks in their companies which helps to consolidate control and boost share values. And finally extreme weather continues to plague large swathes of the US.
A huge tornado landed near Kansas City on Tuesday night, dumping massive amounts of rain and injuring at least 12. The Weather Service warned of golf-ball sized hail and alerted residents that the tornado, “will be rain-wrapped so it will be hard to see.” The damage is being described as “catastrophic.” As of Wednesday more than 39 million Americans were considered “under enhanced risk of severe weather,” including flooding of the Arkansas River, and tornadoes in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. This past week saw similarly extreme weather conditions in Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri and Texas. The unprecedented nature of the weather events is consistent with climate change predictions.