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babylonsister

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'Dozens' of Whistle-Blowers Are Secretly Cooperating With House Democrats

‘Dozens’ of Whistle-Blowers Are Secretly Cooperating With House Democrats
The number of anonymous tipsters reporting wrongdoing from inside the federal government has spiked during the Trump presidency, the House Oversight Committee says.
Russell Berman
10:52 AM ET



Tricia Newbold set an important mark when she became the first official currently serving in Donald Trump’s White House to take accusations of wrongdoing to Congress—and to put her name publicly behind them.

But Democrats on Capitol Hill say that beyond Newbold, a small army of whistle-blowers from across the government has been working in secret with the House Oversight Committee to report alleged malfeasance inside the Trump administration. Lawmakers and aides are reluctant to discuss information they have gleaned from anonymous government tipsters in detail. But the list of whistle-blowers who either currently or previously worked in the Trump administration, or who worked closely with the administration, numbers in the “dozens,” according to a senior aide from the committee now led by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

The Oversight Committee, like many committees in Congress, has a long history of working with federal whistle-blowers regardless of which party is in charge. Though some come forward publicly, most provide information or leak documents anonymously, helping to lead to investigations and, sometimes, hearings. “It’s entirely proper, and it’s really the point of what the Oversight Committee does,” says former Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, a Republican who headed the panel during the mid-2000s. When he was the chairman of the committee, many whistle-blowers’ reports led nowhere, he says, as they frequently came from “disgruntled employees” or others whose complaints were frivolous. But that was not always the case. Davis recalled, for example, that whistle-blowers were crucial to the investigation that exposed the military’s cover-up of the 2004 friendly-fire incident that killed Army Corporal Pat Tillman, a former NFL star who died fighting in Afghanistan.

Committee veterans told me, however, that the number of whistle-blowers who’ve come forward since Trump became president is far higher than the number who cooperated with the panel during previous administrations. “The biggest difference wasn’t necessarily us switching to the majority; the biggest difference was Donald Trump being elected president,” said the Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the committee’s investigative work. Democrats began hearing from whistle-blowers almost immediately after Trump was sworn in, the aide said, beginning with a report that then–National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been exchanging text messages with his business partner during the inauguration.

Of the dozens of whistle-blowers Democrats said they are working with, they have publicly confirmed that a handful work in the White House. All but Newbold, however, have come forward on the condition that they remain anonymous. Newbold spoke to the committee as part of its investigation of White House security clearances, and she’s not the only whistle-blower involved in that matter, the panel confirmed in a memo describing her testimony. “Committee staff have spoken with other whistle-blowers who corroborated Ms. Newbold’s account, but they were too afraid about the risk to their careers to come forward publicly,” the memo reads. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

more...

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/04/trump-administration-whistleblowers-democrats-congress/586459/?utm_medium=social&utm_term=2019-04-04T14%3A52%3A41&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&fbclid=IwAR1-v1QB-GM__s0T8_jxXZ9jByhCqhhj-cfPZSJLye12YdYpCgtF8G4bPxY
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 01:33 PM (35 replies)

House Committee Uses Century-Old Provision in the Tax Code to Demand Trump's Taxes From IRS

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/ways-and-means-house-tax-code-demand-trump-irs.html

House Committee Uses Century-Old Provision in the Tax Code to Demand Trump’s Taxes From IRS
By Elliot Hannon
April 03, 201910:29 PM


One feature of Democrats winning the House back in 2018 is the subpoena power that came with a whiff of congressional leadership. Now in charge of House committees, Democrats have been aggressive in their pursuit of Trump administration malfeasance wherever it may occur. That’s all fine and good, but Trump’s taxes remain the real investigative prize not named Mueller and, on Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee officially upped the ante in its pursuit of the president’s conspicuously buried taxes by formally asking the IRS to turn over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns.

Rep. Richard Neal is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and instead of threatening Trump with legal action, the Massachusetts Democrat is “invoking an authority enshrined in the tax code granted only to the tax-writing committees in Congress that gives the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee the power to request tax information on any filer,” the New York Times reports. “The provision, which dates in some form to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration, at least on its face gives the Trump administration little room to decline a request like Mr. Neal’s. It only says that the Treasury secretary ‘shall’ furnish the information.”

Republicans have, predictably, pushed back against the request, arguing that Democrats are “weaponizing our nation’s tax code.” The obvious counterargument is: it’s near impossible to weaponize something that is already in the public domain, as the taxes of every other president since Nixon have been. Trump addressed the move Wednesday afternoon with more of the same, claiming that he’d love to help, really, but he’s terribly busy being audited or something.

snip//

The request to the IRS also demanded returns from Trump’s business and charitable entities, including “the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, [-] an umbrella entity that controls more than 100 other businesses, including his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. Some of those businesses also own a variety of Trump’s homes, hotels, golf clubs, his properties in Scotland and his namesake hotel in downtown Washington,” the Washington Post reports. “Neal also made requests of DTTM Operations LLC and DTTM Operations Managing Member Corp, which own a number of other Trump LLCs. These businesses collect licensing fees from various Trump-branded products. On his personal financial disclosures, Trump has never reported any income from these entities.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 11:08 AM (3 replies)

Biden Isn't Deviant. He's Decent.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/joe-bidens-affectionate-warmth-what-makes-him-great/586435/

Biden Isn’t Deviant. He’s Decent.
The former vice president isn’t like other Washington power brokers. That’s what makes him great.
6:00 AM ET
Eve Gerber

snip//

Why am I telling another “Biden being Biden” story? Because I believe that the character of the person who occupies the Oval Office is of the utmost importance, and because I believe that Biden, far from a bad man, is an unusually good one.

On the single occasion when my family was invited to a gathering on the grounds of the Naval Observatory, the vice president crossed a patio to greet my kids, introduced them to similarly aged guests, showed them where to find towels, hauled floats out of a shed, and cajoled them into the pool. This story shows me the same thing I see any time any host stops mingling to meet the needs of his least important guests—here’s someone who cares for the meekest among us.

The new narrative about Biden suggests that he is exploitative and solipsistic in his encounters with women. Although I did not witness what the women who have come forward to criticize Biden experienced, and only they can say how these encounters felt to them, it seems relevant that Biden is touchy-feely with everyone—not just women, but children and men, too. My kids fought to be plus-ones for Biden events because of the type of behavior that is being called into question. He habitually nuzzled, hugged, and kidded around with them. But he wasn’t just physical. He tuned in emotionally. In the below photo, while a long line of influentials wait for his attention, Biden is listening to my 7-year-old’s concerns about Syrian kids.

After these encounters, I asked the question of the moment: Why does the guy act this way? Those who cite power dynamics are both exactly wrong and onto something. In Washington, warm welcomes are generally reserved for the most influential or the highest-dollar campaign donors. Sometimes that policy is explicit: You get a faux-intimate photo in exchange for a large PAC contribution. Biden’s disregard of this protocol is telling. He enters a room, just as he enters a debate about union rights or domestic violence, with a predisposition to lend an ear to the least powerful.

Judging from the reaction to the recent spate of Biden stories, time is up on avuncular attention, now interpreted as at best pernicious paternalism and at worst septuagenarian sexual harassment. In the cultural revolution under way in America, men like Biden are invited to offer their head if their prior actions deviated from the new norms.

No doubt, character counts. I, for one, admire Biden’s deviant decency.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 10:09 AM (10 replies)

Ethics experts sound alarm over confirmation process of Trump's pick to lead NOAA


Ethics experts sound alarm over confirmation process of Trump’s pick to lead NOAA
"Nobody could argue with a straight face" that Barry Myers doesn’t have conflicts of interest.
Kyla Mandel
Apr 3, 2019, 2:14 pm

snip//

Prior to Wednesday’s rushed vote, Myers’ nomination hit multiple snags. He was first nominated by Trump in October 2017. When Myers’ name was circulated as a possible contender for NOAA administrator, it wasn’t taken seriously. The idea of someone like the head of AccuWeather running NOAA had been a running joke among Democratic staffers. And then it happened.

His nomination marks only the second time in history that an individual without a scientific degree was put forward to lead NOAA
; the first was attorney Richard Fink who served from 1977 to 1981. Myers has, however, said he acknowledges the reality of climate change and humans’ role in causing it, a fact several of Trump’s top nominees refuse to admit.

Myers’ original confirmation hearing took place in November 2017, while he was still the CEO of AccuWeather and held shares in the company. However, his nomination failed to gain the votes needed to advance, due largely to these conflicts of interest and the company’s past eagerness to effectively privatize the National Weather Service. Trump then re-nominated him in January 2018, but the year came and went without a Senate vote on his nomination.

Myers has now been nominated a third time to this position. And with Wednesday’s vote, the nomination has moved out of committee, leaving it up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to call a floor vote.

This is despite the fact that there has been no debate this year on Myers’ nomination, a standard practice for these types of nominations.

more...

https://thinkprogress.org/barry-myers-trump-accuweather-noaa-9702aad73651/
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 09:47 AM (4 replies)

Why Jared Kushner Poses a Threat to America's National Security

https://www.politicususa.com/2019/04/04/why-jared-kushner-poses-a-threat-to-americas-national-security.html

Posted on Thu, Apr 4th, 2019 by Leo Vidal
Why Jared Kushner Poses a Threat to America’s National Security


snip//

Confirmation that Kushner is “Senior White House Official 1” in the committee’s documents reveals that he was turned down for some very serious reasons. Reporting has identified that Kushner poses a major security risk to the United States for the following reasons:

His susceptibility to foreign influence,
His private business interests, and
His questionable personal conduct.


The committee’s newest leads in the investigation arose after Newbold said she was concerned that many of her determinations that employees were ineligible for security clearances had been overturned outside of the normal process.

We don’t have all the details about what exactly raised red flags in the personnel security office about Kushner. However, public reporting offers possible explanations, such as:

Kushner had extensive foreign contacts that he did not initially report in his application for a security clearance.

He was part of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in June of 2016.

He also has a close relationship with the ruthless Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

He received help from the country of Qatar which appears to have given him a huge amount of money to bail him out one of his troubled real estate ventures.

Kushner is known for using his personal phone and personal email account to communicate with his foreign contacts, compromising the national security of the United States.

Former FBI agent Clint Watts, a cybersecurity expert, said that Kushner’s communications were highly vulnerable to hackers — and he suggested they had probably been intercepted by foreign intelligence operatives before Trump even took office.

Kushner has been discovered making false statements under oath, which could send him to prison.


Jared Kushner Should Immediately Be Removed From His Position

This is not a small matter. Donald Trump hired a national security threat to be one of his top advisers. And Jared Kushner, through his questionable actions, continues to put the country at risk every day he goes to work in the White House.

Jared Kushner should be removed from his senior position in the U.S. government immediately.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 08:37 AM (2 replies)

Trump's Goons Now Forced to Say They Have No Idea Whether Wind Turbines Cause Cancer

https://gizmodo.com/trumps-goons-now-forced-to-say-they-have-no-idea-whethe-1833795153?utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&fbclid=IwAR3X8_lHSNSJcESt90Yj_tNdghi9TZsCY4PifDAcAg58xq4IjjqRav5o490


Trump's Goons Now Forced to Say They Have No Idea Whether Wind Turbines Cause Cancer
Tom McKay
Yesterday 9:45pm
Filed to: mind garbage


Last night at a Republican fundraiser in DC, Donald Trump claimed that wind turbines cause cancer with the citation, “They say the noise causes cancer.” This may be because the president has a grudge against wind power because he thought it would spoil the view from one of his golf courses in Scotland or it might just be because he is a complete and total idiot, but it is a patently ridiculous claim that it would be more or less a total waste of our time to debunk.

This does mean that the president’s flunkies and allies are in a tough spot. Do they risk angering their infamously thin-skinned boss by admitting that he pulled this one out of thin air? Or do they pretend the emperor is still wearing clothes? Of course it’s the latter. Behold, White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp responding to a question on whether wind turbines cause cancer with the answer, “I don’t have an answer on that. I mean, I don’t, I don’t have an answer then.”

“I really don’t have information on that right now,” she added. “... I don’t have information on that, if I get a readout, I’m happy to update you on that.”


snip//

And some other Republicans are jumping on board. Per the Des Moines Register:

Gov. Kim Reynolds, also a Republican, addressed Trump’s remarks with reporters Wednesday as well and highlighted the important role wind energy plays in Iowa’s economy. However, she declined to say whether she thinks Trump is wrong that wind turbines can cause cancer.

“That’s not my place,” she said.

“You know how those things change,” she said. “One year, coffee’s good for you. The next year, coffee causes cancer.”


Hey, who’s to say whether apples aren’t oranges? Maybe oranges are just big, soft apples. Maybe apples aren’t even apples. Who can really know? Consensus reality needs a consensus!
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 08:02 AM (3 replies)

Buttigieg Hints Formal Announcement Is Coming

https://politicalwire.com/2019/04/04/buttigieg-hints-announcement-is-coming/

Buttigieg Hints Formal Announcement Is Coming
April 4, 2019 at 7:18 am EDT By Taegan Goddard


Pete Buttigieg, who is officially still just “exploring” a presidential bid, tweeted that he’ll be making a “special announcement” in South Bend on April 14.

Axios: “Online interest in Buttigieg — a 37-year-old gay veteran and Harvard graduate who speaks 8 languages — has skyrocketed since his CNN town hall, generating more engagement with his tweets (2.10 million interactions) during this period than any other candidate’s main account except Beto O’Rourke — with half as many followers. Buttigieg’s campaign raised $7 million in the first quarter of 2019.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 07:28 AM (2 replies)

Democrats Outsmarted Trump And Made It Impossible For Him To Hide His Tax Returns

https://www.politicususa.com/2019/04/03/democrats-outsmarted-trump-and-made-it-impossible-for-him-to-hide-his-tax-returns.html

Democrats Outsmarted Trump And Made It Impossible For Him To Hide His Tax Returns
Posted on Wed, Apr 3rd, 2019 by Jason Easley


Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) explained that the Trump administration would have no say over blocking the release of the president’s tax returns because Democrats addressed the letter to the IRS, not the Treasury Department.

Rep. Kildee said on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, “It’s not up to the Treasury Secretary. It’s up to the commissioner of the IRS. That’s who the letter was addressed to. When Secretary Mnuchin was before the committee, he said the same thing. The commissioner of the IRS will follow the law. That’s our expectation that he will follow the law of the United States and deliver the returns that had been requested.”

https://twitter.com/PoliticusSarah/status/1113608337109680128
By not blanket requesting all of Trump’s tax returns, but only seeking returns for the years when Trump claims that he is being audited, Democrats used Trump’s own excuse for not turning over the returns against him.

Democrats are investigating, not Donald Trump, but whether or not tax law is being appropriately applied to the President Of The United States.

It is a clever strategy that is based on public policy but has the practical impact of getting Trump’s tax returns into the hands of members of Congress for examination.

The White House is in way over its head in dealing with this Democratic House. The Democrats are running circles around the president and turning his entire presidency into a waking oversight nightmare.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 09:35 PM (40 replies)

Cohen: Trump feared audit if he released tax returns

Article is old! One month give or take...

February 27, 2019 / 4:54 PM / a month ago
Cohen: Trump feared audit if he released tax returns
David Morgan


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said on Wednesday that Trump has not released his tax returns because he feared that public scrutiny would lead to an audit and tax penalties.

In congressional testimony that could aid efforts by House Democrats to obtain Trump’s returns, Cohen also said he does not believe the president is under audit, despite repeated claims by Trump that he could not release his returns because they are being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

Members of the House of Representatives tax committee also pointed to other segments of Cohen’s testimony as topics likely to draw further scrutiny, including claims that Trump deflated the value of his properties to lower his tax bill and called the government “stupid” for giving him a $10 million tax refund in 2008.

more...

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-taxes/cohen-trump-feared-audit-if-he-released-tax-returns-idUSKCN1QG2X7
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 08:35 PM (3 replies)

Trump administration to slash USDA pork inspections, including tests for salmonella, E. coli

What could go wrong?

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/4/3/1847489/-Trump-administration-to-slash-USDA-pork-inspections-including-tests-for-salmonella-E-coli

Trump administration to slash USDA pork inspections, including tests for salmonella, E. coli
Hunter
Daily Kos Staff
Wednesday April 03, 2019 · 2:03 PM EDT


The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration plans to slash the number of federal inspectors in the nation's pork-processing plants by about 40 percent. The change, which could take place next month, is part of the Republican press to deregulate industry—including removing regulations previously put in place for public safety reasons.

The removed federal inspectors would be replaced by ... actually, by nothing.

Under the proposed new inspection system, the responsibility for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with plant employees, whose training would be at the discretion of plant owners. There would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds.


The "responsibility" for keeping contaminated meat out of the plant would be transferred to industry employees, but there are no hard requirements for how, or if, those workers will be trained to identify specific diseases or contaminants. There would similarly be no requirement that the plant operate at a speed that would even allow for plausible visual inspections, and no requirement that plants publicly disclose the results of their own disease testing, a move that could delay identification of new outbreaks.

Tests for salmonella and E. coli, two of the most common causes of serious food-borne illness, will seemingly no longer be required at all.

If this sounds to you like a recipe for disaster, you are in good company. The USDA's chief veterinarian refused to approve the proposed changes, citing the potential for catastrophic disease outbreaks if less-trained plant workers failed to identify one of the highly contagious diseases that USDA's veterinarians would otherwise have caught. But he has since left the department, and Team Trump forced the issue through soon after he departed. And though years of prior USDA experiments with the new protocol have not borne out lofty industry promises of continued safety, that does not seem to have deterred administration attempts to push forward.

snip//

After the first large new outbreak happens, a new administration will likely re-tighten those same controls, returning to something much like the original system. But it will only be after something goes wrong. Food safety advocates and industry watchers warn that the "something goes wrong" part, if it results in a new epidemic, could mean human deaths, catastrophic industry losses, or both. For consumers, the only recourse would appear to be not buying the stuff.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 06:58 PM (8 replies)
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