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Published: Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 11:20 AM
WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday, more than three months after he and four others were injured in a shooting during a Republican baseball team practice.
“I’m back,” Scalise, R-Louisiana, wrote Thursday morning in a tweet.
I’m back. pic.twitter.com/vuqYQorM6U— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 28, 2017
Scalise was welcomed to the Chamber of the House of Representatives with resounding applause from his colleagues.
“Our prayers have been answered,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said. “His bravery and his family’s strength have been such an inspiration.”
“You have no idea how great this feels to be back here, at work in the people’s house,” Scalise said.
The 51-year-old lawmaker was shot in the hip on June 14 as Republicans gathered at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, to practice for the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. Three other people were shot, including a Capitol police officer, a Congressional aide and a lobbyist for Tyson Foods.
The shooter, identified by officials as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, was shot and killed by responding police officers.
Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 4:16 AM
In a loud, bipartisan message from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and across the landscape of American business and agriculture, President Donald Trump is facing sharp questions about his tariffs on China, Mexico, Canada, and Europe, as businesses and farmers say they’re being economically harmed by the President’s actions on trade.
In hearings this week in Congress and at the Commerce Department, in speeches on the floors of the House and Senate, and in news conferences outside the Capitol, the message has been simple – the Trump Tariffs are hurting, and more won’t help.
Sporting signs that said, “Say No to the Car tax,” auto workers rallied outside the Capitol on Thursday morning as Commerce Department officials were listening to car industry officials denounce the idea of a new tariff threatened by President Trump on imported cars from Europe.
“The opposition is widespread and deep, because the consequences are alarming,” said Jennifer Thomas, with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Thomas’ testimony was echoed by a series of other industry groups, all arguing that a new tariff on imported autos and auto parts would only hurt U.S. consumers.
“The tariffs will lead to higher vehicles prices for all automakers, foreign and domestic,” said Matt Blunt, the former Governor of Missouri, now with the American Automotive Policy Council.
“Tariffs on parts will also increases cost on other things made in America,” said Linda Dempsey of the National Association of Manufacturers.
On Capitol Hill, 149 lawmakers signed a letter to the Commerce Secretary opposing the use of a special ‘national security’ tariff procedure.
“We do not believe that imports of automobiles and automotive parts pose a national security threat,” read the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN). “Price increases from tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions will ultimately be borne by American families in the form of higher vehicle prices.”
A day earlier, Walorski had joined members in both parties at a House hearing to vent their frustration at how earlier tariffs levied by the Trump Administration were hurting U.S. farmers back home.
“We are concerned with the administration’s decision to place tariff’s on our trading partners,” said Russell Boening, the head of the Texas Farm Bureau, who said one-quarter of Texas agriculture depends on exports.
“The current tariffs, the continuing back-and-forth retaliatory actions, and trade uncertainties are hitting American agriculture from all sides,” said Kevin Papp, the President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
“Once you lose a market, it’s really hard to get it back,” Papp added, who grows corn and soybeans on his family farm.
“Farmers are dealing with big shifts in the commodity markets because of trade and tariff threats,” said Scott VanderWal, who heads the South Dakota Farm Bureau.
The stories of concerns on the farm – and in other every day businesses – are echoed almost daily by lawmakers in both parties, who worry that President Trump’s drive to level the trade playing field is going to turn into a trade war.
“If this starts to spiral out of control, business will pull back,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who has been an especially sharp critic of the President’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Rattling off examples of businesses back home who are feeling the pinch from either the higher tariffs – or retaliatory tariffs by other nations – has become almost a daily experience on Capitol Hill.
“We’re in the midst of a full-blown trade war,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “If it gets out of control, it can take us into an economic recession.”
It has led Democrats to hammer on the issue more in recent weeks, convinced that rural voters with ties to agriculture might not be as thrilled to vote Republican in the fall elections for Congress.
At the White House, there has been no sign that President Trump is going to back off of his push on trade, as he looks at tariffs as leverage to force other countries to lower their own trade barriers.
But so far, the only response from other countries has been retaliatory tariffs – and those are clearly being felt across the U.S., especially in agriculture.
“There have been very few issues in my career as a farmer that have caused me to lose sleep,” said Michelle Erickson-Jones, with the Montana Grain Growers Association.
“But these tariffs are one of them.”
Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 2:57 PM
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Jordan suggested those on the left “choreographed” accusations that as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State he ignored warnings from wrestlers that a team doctor engaged in inappropriate behavior with them.
During an interview Thursday with Fox News, Jordan, R-Urbana, said he found it “suspect” the charges have emerged this summer as he and Republicans are threatening to impeach Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for what they claim is his unwillingness to provide Congress with documents related to the FBI’s investigation into Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
Rosenstein last year tapped Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate accusations that Russian intelligence officials interfered with the election in a way to help Trump win.
“I mean, jeepers, the way it seemed to me was sequenced and choreographed” by some on the left, Jordan said. “I find all that suspect.”
“I guess I like to think that the reason you see the left coming after me and lies being told is because we’re being effective in doing what we told the American people we were doing,” Jordan said. “I also think it has something to do with the fact that President Trump is doing a great job, and we are trying to support him and help him make America great again.”
Jordan has raised the argument previously that he is a victim of a vendetta by liberals in the wrestling scandal. He has not provided any evidence to back that claim.
More than a half-dozen former wrestlers at Ohio State have said that Jordan, who served as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Richard Strauss worked there as a team physician, knew of inappropriate behavior by Strauss but did not report it.
Attorneys for Ohio State on Monday interviewed Jordan, who said “the interview was fine. We’re not allowed to get into details in what was talked about. They are doing an investigation for the university.”
Jessica Wehrman of the Washington Bureau contributed to this story.
Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 1:00 PM
Alarmed by the lack of information from the White House on what was discussed in talks earlier this week between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, lawmakers in both parties on Thursday demanded that the Trump Administration detail what exactly was agreed to by Mr. Trump in his talks in Helsinki, Finland.
“We have got to find out what the Russian Ambassador was finding out yesterday, when he said that important agreements were reached,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
“We shouldn’t be just guessing based on the statements of the Russian Ambassador, or based on the reports of what we hear in the media,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).
“What are they hiding?” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer added on the Senate floor. “What are they afraid of?”
At a briefing in Moscow on Wednesday, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said that no ‘secret deals’ were made in the Trump-Putin meeting – but then, Antonov said in a television interview later in the day that, ‘important verbal agreements were made.’
“The meeting was important, intense, constructive and productive,” Antonov was quoted by the Russian TV network RT.
But with no joint statement from the two leaders after the Trump-Putin meeting, and no rundown of exactly what was discussed, lawmakers felt they were being left in the dark.
Those expressions of concern on Capitol Hill came as other arms of the federal government made clear they were also did not know details of any Trump-Putin agreements as well.
At the Pentagon, reporters spoke via video conference with CENTCOM Commander, Gen. Joseph Votel, who said he had received no information from the White House on any future U.S.-Russian military cooperation in Syria.
Gen. Votel said there had been “no new guidance for me as a result of the Helsinki discussions as of yet.”
President Trump on Wednesday declared his meeting with Putin to be a ‘tremendous success,’ adding on Twitter this morning that he wants a second meeting with the Russian leader.
In a pair of tweets, Mr. Trump rattled off a list of items which he had discussed in the Putin meeting: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”
“There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems,” the President wrote, “but they can ALL be solved,” as he again attacked the press as the “enemy of the people.”
Some lawmakers were also demanding any notes from the woman who served as Mr. Trump’s interpreter during the meeting – but that option seemed unlikely.
One other discussion point between the two leaders drew additional bipartisan notice, as the Senate moved to go on the record against the idea of allowing Russia to question the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, as the White House faced stern criticism for not rejecting the idea out of hand.
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 3:49 PM
A federal judge on Wednesday refused to release to a 29 year-old Russian woman who pleaded not guilty to illegal political activity in the United States, as federal prosecutors alleged that Maria Butina was working “as part of a covert Russian influence campaign” in 2016 and 2017, which was aided by at least one American.
“Because Butina has been exposed as an illegal agent of Russia, there is the grave risk that she will appeal to those within that government with whom she conspired to aid her escape from the United States,” prosecutors said in new court documents filed on Wednesday morning.
Those documents detailed what was described as a ‘years-long conspiracy to work covertly in the United States as an undeclared agent of the Russian Federation,” in which the feds charge, she was “in contact with officials believed to be Russian intelligence operatives.”
The court submission also said that Butina was helped by an unnamed American, referred to as “U.S. Person 1,” a 56 year-old man with whom she was involved in a personal relationship, describing him as “instrumental in aiding her covert influence operation.”
But the feds say he was being used by Butina.
Butina was in the United States on a student visa, attending classes at American University, located in Washington, D.C. about four miles northwest of the White House.
“Butina would routinely ask U.S. Person 1 to help complete her academic assignments, by editing papers and answering exam questions,” the Justice Department said in court documents, as the feds said, “attending American University was Butina’s cover while she continued to work on behalf of the Russian Official.”
“The evidence establishes that Butina’s purpose for coming to the United States was to work on behalf of the Russian Federation,” the DOJ wrote.
The documents filed on Wednesday also show connections between Butina and what were described as “wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy,” some of whom had funded her activities in the United States.
The documents filed today also indicated that Butina had been under surveillance by FBI agents for some time, as she was seen with a Russian diplomat who is “suspected by the United States Government of being a Russian intelligence officer.”
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee had pressed that panel to get testimony from Butina, to explore her ties to the National Rifle Association.
“The Republicans refused to allow her to come testify,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) told CNN on Tuesday night.
In Moscow, the response from the Russian government was that the FBI was engaged in political tricks, casting Butina as an innocent student in Washington, D.C.