US politics

Tag Archives

Aide asks voters to unseat Republican congressman critical of Trump

White House director of social media called on voters to defeat big liability Justin Amash in new sign of division between the president and the party

A top aide to Donald Trump has called for a primary challenge to a Republican member of Congress.

In a tweet on Saturday, Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media, called on voters to defeat congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.

Scavino wrote: @realDonaldTrump is bringing auto plants & jobs back to Michigan. @justinamash is a big liability. #TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary.

The libertarian-leaning Amash, who was first elected to the House in 2010, is a member of the hardline Freedom Caucus and has long been critical of Trump.

The direct intervention by Scavino, who has worked for Trump since caddying for the then-real estate developer as a teenager, is however a new sign of division between Trump and congressional Republicans.

The president this week used Twitter to criticize members of the Freedom Caucus for their role in blocking the American Health Care Act, the House bill that aimed to replace Barack Obamas healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

The AHCA was pulled from the House floor shortly before a scheduled vote, due to insufficient support from all corners of the Republican party.

Many members of the Freedom Caucus thought the bill, which was widely criticised for its likely removal of insurance from millions of Americans, in fact left government with too prominent a role in the provision of healthcare.

In a reference to rightwing descriptions of supposedly self-serving Washington DC, Amash derided the AHCA as Swampcare.

In tweets on Thursday, Trump criticized three members of the Freedom Caucus: chair Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Ral Labrador of Idaho.

Meadows and Labrador stumped for Trump in 2016, and Labrador was considered for a cabinet post.

In a tweet of his own on Thursday, the Idaho Republican wrote: Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran. Remember who your real friends are. Were trying to help u succeed.

Trump has yet to criticize Amash by name. The maverick Michigan Republican is however used to primary challenges. In 2014, he fended off a self-funding establishment Republican who was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce.

However, a competitive primary in Amashs district, which includes the city of Grand Rapids, could have political consequences. Obama won the district in 2008 and Trump ran 8% behind Amash there in 2016.

Spokesmen for the White House did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Scavinos tweet.

However, Amash tweeted in response: Trump admin & Establishment have merged into #Trumpstablishment. Same old agenda: Attack conservatives, libertarians & independent thinkers.

Justin Amash (@justinamash)

Trump admin & Establishment have merged into #Trumpstablishment. Same old agenda: Attack conservatives, libertarians & independent thinkers. https://t.co/ALcV59iHXx

April 1, 2017

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/01/justin-amash-republican-challenge-freedom-caucus-trump-dan-scavino


Ivanka Trump to become White House employee instead of informal adviser

Presidents daughter decides to assume official role as unpaid government employee in attempt to mitigate ethical controversy over administration position

Following criticism from ethics experts, Ivanka Trump will become an official government employee, working as an unpaid adviser to her father in the White House, alongside her husband.

Last week the presidents daughter came under fire after announcing she would become an adviser without a specific title, but with an office in the West Wing, a government-issued phone and computer and security clearance to access classified information.

While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees, she said at the time.

Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W Bush between 2005 and 2007 and has frequently spoken out about the Trump familys various ethical controversies, told the Guardian: She has a West Wing office, she has equipment, she has a White House email address, shes going to be doing policy work. For purposes of the conflict of interest statute, I believe she is a government employee.

Now Ivanka Trump has responded to such criticism by taking on a formal role.

She said in a statement: I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees.

Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, told the New York Times, which first reported the news, that Trump had changed her mind because of her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view.

The Times quoted a spokeswoman for Donald Trump as saying: Ivankas service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.

Painter told the Guardian on Wednesday: I think she made the right decision because her lawyers told her what Ive been saying all along … that she is a government employee.

He added: And I think she understands that and I think she told the White House, Stop screwing around and playing games and let her be an employee.

Referring to conflict of interest statutes, he said: Im glad they sorted this out, because the last thing we need is the presidents daughter committing a crime that could be a felony.

The role of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, another of Donald Trumps informal advisers, needed to be similarly formalised, Painter said.

Several attorneys and government watchdog leaders last week wrote a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn asking him to reconsider his approval of Ivanka Trump serving her father without becoming an official government employee.

Norman Eisen, who was Barack Obamas ethics counselor, was among those who signed the letter. He said that for a change in what has largely been an ethics disaster, the White House came to their senses. Lets hope it doesnt turn out to be an isolated moment of sanity.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the government watchdog group Democracy 21 and a co-writer of the letter to McGahn, said he commended Ivanka Trump for formalizing her status. Democracy 21 praises Ms Trump for her decision, which recognizes that it would have been wrong for her to function as a White House employee and not be subject to the same rules that apply to other White House employees, he said in a statement.

There is no precedent for someone whose father is president to work in the White House, although two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan had their nieces serve in the role of first lady since Jackson was a widower and Buchanan a bachelor.

Ivanka Trump has handed control over the day-to-day running of her eponymous clothing business to an executive and its assets are maintained by a trust managed by two of her husbands siblings.

As part of the trust rules, outlined in the New York Times, Trump can veto any potential business deals for her clothing company that might create a conflict with her political work meaning she will continue to know about any new deals.

Trumps marriage to her fathers senior adviser, the real estate developer Jared Kushner, poses additional potential problems, because both could benefit financially from each others businesses.

Kushner was appointed to an additional role this week at the helm of Donald Trumps White House Office of American Innovation, which is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector.

The same day it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election. Kushners offer to appear before the Senate panel stems from his meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US whose contacts with former national security adviser Michael Flynn led to the latters resignation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/29/ivanka-trump-white-house-government-employee-ethics


As Jared Kushner ascends White House ladder, Senate Russia inquiry adds scrutiny

Trumps son-in-law will lead Office of American Innovation to privatize certain government functions, as he agrees to testify in Russia election investigation

Jared Kushner, Donald Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser, found himself back in the spotlight for better and for worse on Monday.

As the US president appointed him to a new White House role, it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election.

With Kushner at its helm, Trumps White House Office of American Innovation is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector, it was announced on Monday. The venture, which will bring together a team of former executives to privatize certain government functions, will follow through on the presidents business-minded approach to running the country.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/27/jared-kushner-white-house-office-trump-russia


Will Trump be impeached or is it just a liberal fantasy?

Only two presidents in history have been impeached, but murmurs continue to surround Trump. Heres how the process would work if it would at all

On 21 July 2007, George W Bush underwent surgery to have five polyps removed after what was described as a routine colonoscopy. The date may have been lost to history, but for the rare invocation at the time of a constitutional amendment laying out how the transfer of power to the vice-president works in cases of presidential disability.

For 125 minutes as long as it took for Bush to enter and emerge from partial anesthesia, eat breakfast and display possession of his native wit Dick Cheney held all the powers attached to the office of the presidency. (Some wags have suggested that Cheney wielded that authority, unofficially, over a much longer time span.)

Even before the FBI director announced on Monday that the bureau is investigating possible collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 presidential election, the precise rules for how the powers of the presidency might be transferred or simply rescinded in case of criminality or emergency had become the subject of newfound and intense focus in the United States.

Whispers about impeachment, the most familiar constitutional procedure for removing a president, began to circulate even before Trump had taken the oath of office. But two months into Trumps presidency, those whispers and the search for any other possible emergency exit have grown into an open conversation that has moved well beyond the realm of a Democratic party daydream. Get ready for impeachment, an influential, 13-term Democratic congresswoman tweeted after the bombshell FBI announcement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/22/donald-trump-president-impeached-liberals-history-process


Ivanka Trump’s expanded White House role raises ethical issues

With a West Wing office but no specific title and no precedent for adult children whose father is president the rules Trump is subject to are under dispute

After months of attending meetings of world leaders and visiting factories with her father, the role of first daughter Ivanka Trump is officially expanding creating new ethical issues for an administration that has been heavily criticized over its potential conflicts of interest.

She will not have a specific title, but Trump will have an office in the West Wing, a government-issued phone and computer and security clearance to access classified information, and she will advise her father.

While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees, she told Politico in a statement.

But following the ethics guidelines should not be voluntary, said Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W Bush between 2005 and 2007.

Given what shes going to do, I dont think she has any choice, he said. She has a West Wing office, she has equipment, she has a White House email address, shes going to be doing policy work, said Painter.

For purposes of the conflict of interest statute, I believe she is a government employee, he added.

Ivanka Trumps lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, argues that since she will earn no salary and not be sworn in, she does not count as a government employee. There is no precedent for adult children whose father is president working in the White House, although two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan had their nieces serve in the role of first lady since Jackson was a widower and Buchanan a bachelor.

Trump has handed control over the day-to-day running of her eponymous clothing business to an executive and its assets are maintained by a trust managed by two of her husbands siblings.

As part of the trust rules, outlined in the New York Times, Trump can veto any potential business deals for her clothing company that might create a conflict with her political work.

That means, points out Painter, that Trump has to know about any new deal that might put her at risk of breaking the statute, meaning she can be held responsible.

Shes got accountability on that stuff. She cant just blame the trustee, he said.

Trumps marriage to her fathers senior adviser, the real estate developer Jared Kushner, poses additional potential problems, because both could benefit financially from each others businesses.

Painter warned that the pair should avoid official political discussions involved with trade agreements regarding textiles, real estate and even bank deregulation, since that can affect real estate.

That means if the premier of China visits the White House most of Ivanka Trumps clothing line is made in China and Hong Kong it is fine for her to attend the meeting, but she should not mention trade and if the discussion begins to focus on trade, she should excuse herself, says Painter.

The ethics expert noted approvingly that Ivanka Trump engaged Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the same legal services used by the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, former head of ExxonMobil, to handle issues of conflict of interest. Kushner also used the DC-based lawyers to manage his potential conflicts of interest with his family business after taking the role of adviser in the Trump administration.

Its a criminal statute, so people better not mess up under it. But I think shell do the right thing, said Painter.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/21/ivanka-trump-white-house-office-administration-role-ethics


Trump had to pay millions due to tax law he aims to abolish, leaked return shows

A section of the presidents 2005 tax return revealed that about 85% of what he paid the IRS was incurred due to alternative minimum tax

Donald Trumps leaked tax return reveals that the businessman had to pay tens of millions of dollars in a single year because of a tax rule that he has specifically promised to abolish as president.

A two-page section of Trumps tax return for 2005, which was published by MSNBC late on Tuesday, revealed that the president paid $38m in federal taxes on more than $150m in income in 2005.

But the documents also showed that about 82% of the total paid to the Internal Revenue Service that year by Trump and his wife, Melania, was incurred due to a tax that Trump has said should be abolished.

The alternative minimum tax (AMT), which was introduced to ensure the mega wealthy pay a fairer share of tax, comprised $31m of Trumps tax bill compared to $5.3m in regular federal income tax. In the run-up to Novembers election, Trump pledged to eliminate the AMT altogether, meaning the president campaigned for a change in the tax law that would have benefited him.

The publication of the paperwork prompted immediate condemnation from the White House, which accused MSNBCs Rachel Maddow of breaking the law and preemptively released figures from the same year.

You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago, a Trump administration official said in a statement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/14/donald-trump-tax-return-leaked-alternative-minimum


Donald Trump Jr says he has ‘zero contact’ with father as he runs business

Presidents older son, speaking to Republicans at a fundraiser in Dallas, says he does not miss politics but does miss the intensity of campaigning

Donald Trump Jr said he has had essentially zero contact with the president of the United States since his father took office and handed management of his business, without divesting, to his two adult sons.

I basically have zero contact with him at this point, Trump Jr told about 1,000 Republicans at a fundraiser in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday night.

Federal law exempts the president from ethics rules regarding conflicts of interest, but the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), as well as conservative and liberal attorneys, have repeatedly told the White House its plan to separate Trump from his businesses does not go far enough. In January, Trump declined to divest from his sprawling business interests, the extent of which remains unclear, given his refusal to release tax returns in the tradition of other presidents.

The White House has insisted that Trump has taken sufficient steps to remove himself from his businesses, promising, for instance, to give payments from foreign government guests, such as diplomats courted at Trumps new Washington hotel, to the US treasury. In January, a group of ethics attorneys, including former counsels to George W Bush and Barack Obama, sued Trump, alleging that such payments violated the emoluments clause of the constitution.

Trump has said that his sons, 39-year-old Donald Jr and 33-year-old Eric, would take over day-to-day business management, and both continue to travel extensively in the US and abroad in the service of their family business. At the Republican fundraiser, Trump Jr said he missed elements of the presidential campaign.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/12/donald-trump-jr-says-he-has-zero-contact-with-father-as-he-runs-business


‘Trump lies all the time’: Bernie Sanders indicts president’s assault on democracy

Exclusive: the former presidential candidate suggested that Donald Trumps false claims serve a purpose to push the United States toward authoritarianism

Bernie Sanders has launched a withering attack on Donald Trump, accusing him of being a pathological liar who is driving America towards authoritarianism.

In an interview with the Guardian, the independent senator from Vermont, who waged a spirited campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, gave a bleak appraisal of the new White House and its intentions.

He warned that Trumps most contentious outbursts against the media, judiciary and other pillars of American public life amounted to a conscious assault on democracy.

Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that. He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy.

Sanders warning comes 50 days into the Trump presidency at a time when the country is still reeling from the shock elevation of a real estate businessman and reality TV star to the worlds most powerful office. In that brief period, the new incumbent of the White House has launched attacks on former president Barack Obamas signature healthcare policy; on visitors from majority-Muslim countries, refugees and undocumented immigrants; and on trade agreements and environmental protection programs.

Speaking to the Guardian in his Senate office in Washington DC, Sanders said that he was concerned about what he called Trumps reactionary economic program of tax breaks to billionaires and devastating cuts to programs that impact the middle class. But he reserved his most excoriating language for what he believes are the presidents authoritarian tendencies.

He charged Trump with devising a conscious strategy of lies denigrating key public institutions, from the mainstream media to judges and even the electoral process itself, so that he could present himself as the sole savior of the nation. The aim was to put out the message that the only person in America who stands for the American people, the only person in America who is telling the truth, the only person in America who gets it right is the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Trumps fragile relationship with the truth has been one of the distinguishing features of his fledgling administration. He astonished observers by calling a judge who issued a legal ruling blocking his travel ban a so-called judge, accused Obama without producing any evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower, and claimed falsely that up to 5 million votes had been cast illegally in the November election.

Sanders, however, suggested the lies all serve a purpose. To underline his point, Sanders compared the 45th president with the 43rd. George Bush was a very conservative president, I opposed him every single day. But George Bush did not operate outside of mainstream American political values.

While the media spotlight remains firmly on Trump and the daily bombardment of his Twitter feed, quietly and largely unmarked, Sanders, the self-styled democratic socialist senator, is spearheading a nationwide resistance to the new administration. The Brooklyn-born politician is working in tandem with, though at arms length from, former senior advisers in his presidential campaign to rouse for a second time the vast army of young people who flocked to his cause in 2016.

He said that despite what he sees as the virulent threat of Trump, he finds comfort in the evidence that the resistance is already in full swing. You are seeing a very active progressive movement. Our Revolution a group which came out of my campaign other groups, the spontaneous Womens March, thats all an indication of the willingness of the American people to fight back for democracy.

Trumps end goal was to end up as the leader of a nation which has moved in a significant degree toward authoritarianism, he said. The only way to defeat that trend is for massive grassroots resistance, and clearly we are seeing that right now.

As examples of what he meant, Sanders pointed to the 150 rallies in 130 congressional districts that were held in one recent weekend alone. The events mobilized tens of thousands of people demanding meetings with their members of Congress to protest against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Sanders made a specific appeal to his Republican colleagues in Congress to join him in this resistance. He addressed himself directly to those Republicans who believe in democracy, who do not believe in authoritarianism. It is incumbent upon them, in this moment in history, to stand up and say that what Trump is doing is not what the United States is about, its not what our constitution is about. They have got to join us in resistance.

He added: I hope in the coming months to be working with some conservative Republicans, who I disagree with on every economic and environmental issue you can imagine, to say to this president that you are not going to undermine American democracy.

The Vermont senator also remarked on the ongoing inquiry into alleged connections between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government under Vladimir Putin. Intelligence agencies have accused the Kremlin of trying to distort the presidential election in Trumps favour by hacking into Democratic email accounts.

Russia played a very heavy role in attempting, successfully, I think, to impact our election. That is unacceptable, Sanders said.

We need to know what kind of influence the Russian oligarchy has over Trump. Many people are astounded. Here he is, seemingly in strong disagreement with Australia, with Mexico, with long-term allies; but he has nothing but positive things to say about Mr Putin who is an authoritarian leader.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/10/bernie-sanders-donald-trump-lies-democracy


Senators seek Rod Rosenstein pledge to name a special prosecutor on Russia ties

Donald Trumps deputy attorney general nominee faces a confirmation hearing in which his approach to investigating alleged Russia ties will be the key question

Will Trumps nominee for deputy attorney general pledge to appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaigns ties to Russia?

Thats the question Democrats will be asking Rod Rosenstein during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday morning. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, said on Monday that this was far and away the most important question that Rosenstein would need to answer.

Richard Blumenthal, one of the Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee, pledged again on Monday to use every tool, every power available to slow Rosensteins confirmation if he would not promise to appoint a special prosecutor.

Schumer said a special prosecutor would have greater latitude to investigate Russias interference in the election, as well as greater independence to conduct the inquiry, since he or she could only be removed from the investigation for good cause and would have the power to prosecute not only the subject of an investigation but anyone who attempts to interfere.

The Republican chair of the Senate judiciary committee resisted these demands. Nobody should be prejudging as to if there should or shouldnt be a special prosecutor, Beth Levine, a spokeswoman for Senator Chuck Grassley, said in a statement. Mr Rosenstein should go into the job without any predeterminations and evaluate the necessity on the facts and the merits.

The FBI is reportedly investigating Russias interference in the 2016 election, including scrutiny of links between Trump associates and Russia.

Under bipartisan pressure from Congress, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself last week from overseeing any election-related investigations. Sessions failed to mention his election-year meetings with the Russian ambassador during his own confirmation hearing, despite a direct question about whether he had been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election. Sessions later said he should have mentioned the meetings, but has also defended his response as appropriate given that he did not recall any conversations regarding the political campaign on these occasions.

Sessions recusal puts the deputy attorney general, the justice departments second-highest ranking official, in charge of overseeing any investigations of Russian interference in the election.

Rosenstein, currently the US attorney in Maryland, is a widely respected career prosecutor with 26 years experience within the justice department. Former justice officials from Democratic administrations praised his skill and integrity, with one calling him a surprisingly non-partisan choice for a Trump administration appointee, and saying he was the perfect person to oversee a fraught political investigation that might touch on the White House itself.

Schumer and Blumenthal said they believed a special prosecutor should investigate not only Russias interference and any contacts between Moscow and Trump associates, but also whether members of the administration, including Sessions himself, had made cover-up attempts or tried to meddle in the investigation.

In a press conference on Monday, Blumenthal invoked the Watergate investigation of President Richard Nixon, when senators used the confirmation process to force the presidents attorney general nominee to promise to appoint a special prosecutor and guarantee him independence to carry out his investigation.

That same precedent should be followed in Rosensteins confirmation process, Blumenthal said.

Other Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee did not respond to requests for comment on Monday on whether they agreed with Blumenthal.

Democrats have acknowledged Rosensteins reputation as a straight shooter and honorable public servant, with Schumer calling him a fair man.

A CNN survey of about 1,000 American adults found that nearly two-thirds supported having a special prosecutor investigate links between Russia and Trump associates, including 43% of Republicans.

As a young Republican lawyer, Rosenstein was tapped to join Kenneth Starrs independent Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clintons real estate dealings an investigation that later pivoted to digging into Bill Clintons affair with a White House intern.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/07/rod-rosenstein-confirmation-hearing-trump-russia


Rod Rosenstein: ‘honorable’ US attorney poised to be next Russia investigator

With Jeff Sessions recusal, the widely admired nominee for deputy attorney general could be dropped into the thick of the Trump administration controversy

As a young justice department lawyer, Rod Rosenstein was tapped to join Kenneth Starrs Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clintons real estate dealings. He showed an uncommon skill with public corruption cases, demonstrating a wisdom and sensitivity beyond his years, his supervisors said.

Now Rosenstein, who made his reputation as a competent, apolitical US attorney who served both Bush and Obama, may investigate another presidents ties to an even more high-profile scandal.

The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, pledged on Thursday he would recuse himself from overseeing any investigations of Russias role in the 2016 election. I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in, he said, a decision that came after bipartisan pressure from Congress over his failure to disclose two meetings with Russias ambassador during the election year.

Sessions recusal could immediately put Rosenstein into a much higher-profile position than he might have imagined when he was nominated to serve as deputy attorney general. If confirmed, he would oversee any justice department investigation into Russian interference in the election including any contacts between Russia and members of the Trump campaign.

Rosenstein, who is currently the US attorney in Maryland, was a surprising choice to serve as the No 2 official in Trumps justice department, said Philip Heymann, who was Rosensteins law professor at Harvard, and later his boss in the Clinton justice department. Rosenstein has served in the Department of Justice for 26 years, including in the tax division, the public integrity section, and as an assistant US attorney in Maryland.

Rosenstein is a skilled prosecutor and a straight shooter, with a deep knowledge of the day-to-day workings of the department, but he did not seem particularly close to either Sessions or Trump, Heymann said.

It surprises me that they didnt pick somebody who was more partisan, he said.

James Cole, who served for four years as Eric Holders deputy attorney general, also offered unqualified praise for Rosensteins skill and credibility.

He doesnt make any decisions that either are or appear to be political, he said.

Questions on the Russia investigation are likely to be at the center of Rosensteins confirmation hearing on Tuesday. He declined to comment.

Some observers have noted that during the Nixon administration, Senate Democrats used the confirmation process of Nixons attorney general pick, Elliot Richardson, as leverage and refused to confirm him for the job until he named a special prosecutor to oversee the Watergate investigation. Senate Democrats could take a similar approach to Rosensteins confirmation and demand a special prosecutor on Russias interference in the 2016 election, the Intercept suggested on Thursday.

On Sunday night, Richard Blumenthal, one of the Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee, vowed on Twitter that he would use every possible tool to block DOJ Deputy AG nominee unless he commits to appoint [an] independent special prosecutor.

Heymann said both Democrats and Republicans would trust Rosenstein and that he was the perfect person to oversee an investigation into Russias interference in the US election an issue both Democrats and Trump have framed, in different ways, as an inquiry that strikes at the heart of Trumps legitimacy as president.

I think were very lucky to have him in that position, he said.

In February, the Baltimore Sun, Rosensteins hometown paper, called him an honorable public servant with wide bipartisan support who was too good to sell his soul by taking a job in the Trump administration.

Just dont go there. Say no to President Trump, a member of the Suns editorial board advised Rosenstein in an open letter.

Former colleagues praised Rosensteins restraint. He understands that the justice departments role is to do justice rather than bring cases, said Steve Levin, a former federal prosecutor who worked for Rosenstein in Baltimore. Even as he rose into a politically appointed position, he kept the approach and the attitude of a career prosecutor, Levin said.

He is very professional and very determined to be the best prosecutor that he can be and he doesnt take that to mean the most aggressive prosecutor, Heymann said.

Heymann, a longtime justice department official, worked with the Watergate prosecutor, Archibald, Cox on the investigation that led to Nixons resignation, and was also part of investigations into Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. He said Rosensteins lack of a close relationship with Trump or Sessions could, paradoxically, make his job overseeing any investigation of Russian interference harder.

I think hes in an incredibly difficult position. Ive learned over many, many years its easier to be independent if youre a close friend of the president than if youre not, he said, explaining the importance of having a presidents trust. I would anticipate that the White House would be very worried about anybody that they didnt know well.

As Marylands US attorney, Levin said, Rosenstein has gone after corrupt police officers and prison guards as well as violent gang members. This week, his office announced the arrest of seven Baltimore police officers for racketeering.

Rosenstein has also worked to crack down on national security leaks, announcing charges last fall in a high-profile case against a National Security Agency contractor for stealing classified information.

In response to questions about Russias interference in the election he won, Trump has repeatedly argued that the real scandal is not the attempt of a foreign power to sway an American election, but the national security leaks that have made new angles of the issue public.

Rosensteins predecessor as US attorney in Maryland sparked complaints that he was unfairly targeting Democrats in public corruption cases using his office as a political weapon. Rosenstein brought more stability to the office. When he has gone after public officials as US attorney, he did it an even-handed and a fair way, said Cole, the Obama justice official.

The deputy attorney general is the justice departments chief operation officer, with wide responsibilities for overseeing litigation, crime-fighting strategy, and the federal governments national security policy. If confirmed, he will end up in the situation room a lot, Cole said.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions made no mention of the two meetings he had with Russias ambassador during the election year, even when asked directly if he had been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election. Saying the attorney general appeared to have lied under oath, some Democrats are continuing to demand that he resign. Sessions said that he should have mentioned the meetings with ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but that he did not recall any specific political discussions.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/06/rod-rosenstein-deputy-attorney-general-russia-jeff-sessions


Page 1 of 11123...Last

Recent Tweets

Call Now Button