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U.S. President Trump speaks to reporters during farmers event at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on a range of issues during an event devoted to “America’s farmers and ranchers” in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

May 24, 2019

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization on Friday appealed a court order allowing Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp to hand their financial records over to Democratic lawmakers.

They are asking the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to overrule U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who on Wednesday refused to block the banks from responding to subpoenas issued last month by two U.S. House of Representatives committees.

Deutsche Bank, Capital One, the House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The committees have agreed not to enforce the subpoenas for seven days after Wednesday’s ruling.

The Republican president, who is seeking re-election next year, has aggressively sought to defy congressional oversight of his administration since Democrats took control of the House in January.

Some parts of the subpoenas have been included in court filings. The subpoena on Deutsche Bank, issued by both committees, seeks extensive records of accounts, transactions and investments linked to Trump, his three oldest children, their immediate family members and several Trump Organization entities, as well as records of ties they might have to foreign entities.

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump’s real estate business and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.

The subpoena on Capital One, issued by the Financial Services Committee, seeks records related to multiple entities tied to the Trump Organization’s hotel business.

In March, before issuing their subpoena, Democratic lawmakers asked Capital One for documents concerning potential conflicts of interest tied to Trump’s Washington hotel and other business interests since he became president in January 2017.

In asking Ramos to block the subpoenas on Wednesday, a lawyer for the Trumps argued that they exceeded the authority of Congress and were “the epitome of an inquiry into private or personal matters.”

Ramos, however, found that they were allowed under the broad authority of Congress to conduct investigations to further legislation.

Ramos’ ruling came just two days after a federal judge in Washington ruled against the president in a similar case, finding that Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars LLP, must comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump’s financial records.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

May 18, 2019

By Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders unveiled an education policy proposal on Saturday designed to pump billions of dollars into the public schools system, in a bid to appeal to black voters who shunned the U.S. senator during his previous presidential run.

The 10-point plan Sanders detailed in a speech in South Carolina aims to end racial disparities in the public education system. America’s education policy debate has long been steeped in discussions of race and racial discrimination.

Sanders struggled in the 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton to garner support among African-Americans. His chief Democratic rival in the run-up to the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, has polled well among black voters.

“Every child has a right to a quality K-12 education, regardless of your race, regardless of your income, and regardless of your zip code,” Sanders said in a statement on the proposal.

The Vermont senator built his 2016 campaign on a series of liberal policy ideas that at the time made him unique among Democrats, but which now are shared by many of his rivals. More than 20 Democrats are vying to challenge President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

Sanders has struggled to distinguish himself in the current field, frequently complaining that he deserves credit for pioneering many of the progressive ideas now espoused by other Democratic challengers.

Sanders titled his new education proposal the “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education,” a nod to the Supreme Court justice who before being on the bench successfully argued the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that desegregated public schools.

On Friday, the Sanders campaign previewed the portion of the proposal that would overhaul charter schools, the publicly-funded schools that operate independently of government oversight.

The remaining portion of his proposal covers everything from teacher pay to school lunches.

Sanders said he would push for funding to better integrate some schools. He also called for a federal funding minimum and moving away from using property taxes to pay for schools. Critics argue that using property taxes results in wealthy areas having better schools than more impoverished neighborhoods.

He wants to spend an additional $5 billion a year on summer school and after-school programs across the United States and also called for an increase in federal funding for programs for students with disabilities.

Teachers’ salaries should be set at a minimum of $60,000 a year, Sanders said, and tied to regional cost of living. Schools should be required to provide free meals, breakfast, lunch and snacks to all students, he said.

He added that he wants to provide another $5 billion to increase community services at schools, including health and dental care, mental health and job training.

For schools that continue to lack the infrastructure necessary to teach students, Sanders wants to provide federal funds for more school construction.

The senator also proposed making schools safer and more inclusive, including by passing gun control legislation and enacting laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer students.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; editing by Grant McCool and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Biden pauses while speaking in Manchester
FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden pauses while speaking at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

May 18, 2019

By James Oliphant

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday will hold a presidential-style rally intended to make his march toward becoming the Democrat to take on President Donald Trump seem inevitable, even as rivals search for ways to slow him down.

Since entering the race last month, Biden, 76, has largely ignored the other 23 contenders in the Democratic field, instead training his fire on Republican Trump.

Trump, in turn, has regularly knocked Biden, making the 2020 presidential contest sometimes feel like a general election more than a year before the vote takes place.

Biden’s outdoor rally in Philadelphia, where he has established his campaign headquarters, illustrates the importance of Pennsylvania to Democratic hopes next year. Trump narrowly won the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

After Biden leaves, Trump will hold an event of his own on Monday in the northeast part of the state.

Biden will not have the luxury of shrugging off the rest of the Democratic field much longer. While opinion polls show him with a substantial lead, other candidates have begun targeting him.

An emerging antagonist has been U.S Senator Kamala Harris, who this week mocked calls by Biden supporters that she join him on the Democratic ticket as vice president. Harris said it should be the other way around.

“I think that Joe Biden would be a great running mate,” Harris told reporters. “As vice president, he’s proven that he knows how to do the job.”

Biden, a U.S. senator for 30 years and a two-term vice president under Barack Obama, has argued he is best positioned to take on Trump next year.

The cheeky remark by Harris underscored the tension that runs through the Democratic Party as its activist wing grapples with the notion of nominating a moderate white male such as Biden rather than a progressive woman such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren or person of color like Harris.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD?

Democratic nominating contests begin next February, giving the dynamics of the race plenty of time to shift. But Biden has opened up a more than 20-point lead over his nearest rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, in several public opinion polls.

In New Hampshire this week, Harris took issue with Biden’s assertion that a sweeping 1994 crime bill Biden backed in Congress did not lead to mass incarceration of prisoners.

African-Americans, a key voter demographic for both Biden and Harris, have been particularly critical of the legislation, saying it devastated black communities.

Warren has criticized Biden’s support of the credit card industry while a senator. Sanders has blasted Biden’s past support of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iraq War.

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president but holds influence over young progressive voters, appeared this week to criticize Biden after Reuters reported that he likely would advance a plan to tackle climate change less sweeping than Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal.’

Biden pushed back at Ocasio-Cortez, saying he has never been “middle of the road” on the climate issue.

“There are very loud voices on the very new progressive side of the agenda, and I think it’s useful,” Biden said in New Hampshire. “I think they’re good. They’re smart people, and they should be able to be making their case.”

At his Philadelphia rally, his biggest campaign event yet, Biden is expected to speak in broad policy outlines and call for national unity.

He was ridiculed by some liberal commentators this week for similar talk, suggesting Republicans would have an “epiphany” and begin cooperating with Democrats once Trump is out of office.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House Pelosi walks behind President Trump and Attorney General Barr as they attend National Peace Officers Memorial Service on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walks behind U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr as they all attend the 38th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

May 18, 2019

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday acknowledged he would need some support from Democrats to support his immigration and border agenda, even as opponents soundly rejected his latest proposals as the immigration issue heats up ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections.

A day after unveiling a plan to shift to a “merit-based” immigration system, the Republican president said there was a “good chance” that Democrats would back him and provide funding to manage record migrant flows along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The Democrats now realize that there is a National Emergency at the Border and that, if we work together, it can be immediately fixed. We need Democrat votes and all will be well!” Trump said in a series of early morning tweets on Friday.

Such talk of bipartisan cooperation on the explosive immigration issue for years has ended in failure and finger-pointing. Even though the issue is now back on Trump’s agenda, Democrats have shown little interest in compromise.

On Thursday, the president called for legal immigration changes that would favor young, educated, English-speaking applicants, instead of people with family ties to those already living in the United States. The proposal, drafted by Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, has little chance of being approved by the divided Congress.

The proposals do not address one of the Democrats’ key issues: protection for “Dreamers,” the roughly 11 million people brought to the Unites States illegally as children. At the same time, Trump is pushing ahead with building portions of a U.S.-Mexico border barrier with money he is diverting from other purposes without lawmakers’ approval.

As a result of these and other shortcomings, the president’s latest plan was “dead on arrival,” U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.

His proposal also drew concerns from hardline conservatives who want to reduce immigration; Trump’s plan keeps overall numbers flat.

Moderate Republicans dismissed Kushner’s plan, calling it too narrow to pass Congress. “That’s going to be difficult to pass in Congress. The far right is upset with it because it doesn’t decrease net immigration. The far left is upset with it because it doesn’t do these other things,” Republican Representative Will Hurd told MSNBC in an interview on Friday.

White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the proposal in a Fox News interview Thursday night, saying it was “not the final word.”

Trump tied his plan to next year’s elections when he unveiled it on Thursday, saying that if Democrats did not support him, Republicans would win back the House in November 2020 and then pass his program — something they failed to do when they held a majority in the House, as well as the Senate, during the first two years of his presidency.

A bipartisan immigration deal hammered out last year failed after Trump refused to back it.

Trump has separately requested $4.5 billion from lawmakers to help house, feed, transport and oversee Central American families seeking asylum.

Pelosi on Thursday appeared open to approving the emergency funds, saying money to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the nation’s southern border could be included in pending disaster relief legislation.

Democrats on Thursday night offered Republicans “several billion” dollars for border relief, a House aide said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

May 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that he would not meet a congressional demand for six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, all but guaranteeing a federal court battle with Congress over the records.

“We are unable to provide the requested information,” Mnuchin said in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, who subpoenaed Trump’s individual and business returns a week ago and set a 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) Friday deadline for their delivery.

Mnuchin reiterated his contention that Neal’s panel lacks a legitimate legislative purpose for obtaining the tax returns, a claim Democrats reject.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Biden orders coffee and a muffin in Concord
FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden orders coffee and a muffin during a campaign stop at The Works in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

May 18, 2019

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has shown surprising strength in the first three weeks of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, prompting a persistent question: Can anyone stop him?

Biden holds a significant lead in opinion polls over the 23 other Democratic contenders. Republican President Donald Trump is treating him like his top threat in 2020.

Ahead of his formal campaign kickoff on Saturday at an outdoor rally in Philadelphia, Biden, 76, has seemingly put to rest doubts about his age and his ability to raise money as well as questions over whether he is out of step with the Democratic Party.

“The rest of the race now revolves around Joe Biden,” said Joe Trippi, a longtime Democratic operative who is not aligned with the campaign.

But traps may lie ahead. The first major opportunity for Biden’s competitors to dent his lead comes next month in the first of a dozen Democratic presidential debates.

Biden could find himself as the leading target of attacks, particularly from progressives. He also has a history of gaffes, something that could be problematic in the national spotlight.

“I’ve long said Joe Biden’s best days will be the beginning of this campaign,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Democracy for America.

According to Real Clear Politics, Biden is backed by about 40% of the Democratic electorate on average in opinion polls, giving him more than a 20 percentage-point lead over his nearest challenger, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Experienced presidential strategists told Reuters that while they expect some other Democrats to eventually become top contenders, Biden’s strength is likely sustainable.

They cited two main factors: The massive Democratic field makes it difficult for any one candidate to stand out, and voters tend to be risk-averse when seeking a candidate to topple a sitting president.

FAR AFIELD

In recent elections, early front-runners such as Democrat Al Gore, himself a former vice president, in 2000 and Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 largely kept a lock on the nomination, despite some bumps along the way.

In 2008, Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton was overtaken by Barack Obama to secure the nomination, but Obama took advantage of a relatively small field to steadily amass support as the top alternative to Clinton. When Clinton ran again in 2016, Sanders tried to do the same thing with a similarly small field and almost succeeded.

That becomes exponentially harder with the 2020 scrum, with its 20-plus candidates all vying for attention and money. Trippi said more than a dozen Democrats trying to challenge Biden have consulted Trippi on strategy.

“I’ve told every single one of them that Joe Biden is going to be more formidable than they thought, and it was going to be tough for anyone to emerge from this field,” he said.

Biden also is aided by the perception among some voters that he may be a safer choice to take on Trump than a less-known politician.

In the 2004 primary, Democrat John Kerry, a longtime party fixture with a strong national-security background, used that argument to wrest the nomination from Howard Dean, like Sanders an upstart progressive from Vermont.

Robert Shrum, Kerry’s top strategist at the time, said Democrats began to panic at the thought of running Dean against Republican President George W. Bush.

Which candidate could beat Bush became “the defining question,” Shrum said.

AVOIDING LANDMINES

Shrum cautioned, however, the 2020 race could still shift. Biden would be the oldest president ever elected, and he will need to “seem vigorous and energetic” at the debates, Shrum said.

“This is a dynamic process,” Shrum said. “It is not frozen in amber. A lot depends on his conduct.”

Biden, who spent 40 years in the U.S. Senate and two terms as Obama’s vice president, must also defend his record to progressive voters who view him as too moderate.

In the past week alone, Biden has been challenged over his stance on combating climate change and his support for the 1990s crime bill, which is viewed by critics as leading to mass incarceration of African-Americans.

“When we get to that whites-of-their-eyes stage of the campaign and candidates realize the only way to improve their market share is to take Biden head-on, that’s when the real test begins,” said Kevin Madden, a former top aide to Romney.

Those tensions within the party could lead to some tough stretches for Biden, despite his current position. In 2012, Romney was the early front-runner, only to yield to challengers such as Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at different times before finally re-asserting himself as the favorite.

Madden said Romney’s campaign made hats with the slogan “The Long Slog” for a reason.

“No one is going to give you the nomination,” he said, “and every other candidate has a plan to take it away from you.”

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the 2019 National Action Network National Convention in New York
FILE PHOTO – U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), speaks at the 2019 National Action Network National Convention in New York, U.S., April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

May 17, 2019

By Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is calling for a sweeping overhaul of publicly-funded charter schools, rolling out a plan on Saturday that will put him at odds with some of his opponents and underscore his renewed efforts to win black voters.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, wants to ban for-profit charter schools and halt the creation of new charter schools while imposing new rules on the existing ones, according to a summary of his proposal provided by his campaign on Friday.

Charter schools receive government funding to operate but are more autonomous than traditional public schools. Students do not pay to attend.

Most charter schools are operated by nonprofit groups, and many take private donations on top of government funding. However, a pro-charter school group estimates 15 percent of them are operated by for-profit companies. Additionally, some nonprofit charter schools have come under fire for contracting with for-profit companies to operate the schools.

Charter schools, which enjoyed bipartisan support at their inception in the 1990s, have become the subject of increasing division. Many Democrats have grown critical of them, arguing the schools are used by the wealthy to pad their pockets while still neglecting millions of students in failing schools.

Groups like the NAACP have become vocal opponents of the current charter school system.

But charter schools remain popular in some predominately black communities, where they are seen as the best option where public schools are weak.

As a result, Sanders’ proposal, meant to show how his liberal policies could help minorities, comes with some political risks for the candidate, who struggled in his last presidential campaign in 2016 to gain support from black voters.

Sanders will roll out a comprehensive education platform in a speech in South Carolina on Saturday, his campaign said.

Supporters argue charter schools can serve as laboratories for innovation in education that can flourish without the bureaucratic constraints of traditional schools.

But critics of charter schools say they have done little to export the innovation they promised to traditional schools, which still educate the vast majority of students. Instead, critics argue, charter schools have taken resources from the rest of the public schools to serve a small, select group.

Critics also say the schools are mainly serving middle-class, predominately white populations to the detriment of students, mainly minorities, in traditional public schools.

The position taken by Sanders, one of more than 20 Democrats vying for the nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election, is in stark contrast with some of his opponents.

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas has previously voiced support for charter schools, and U.S. Senator Cory Booker was a vocal supporter of them as mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

Booker’s support of charter schools is proving to be a liability with some black voters.

Booker is “well liked,” said Corey Strong, former chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party in Memphis, Tennessee, but he “has an issue with charter schools.”

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

U.S. House Speaker Pelosi visits Dublin
U.S. Congressman Richard Neal speaks during a meeting with Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney at Iveagh House in Dublin, Ireland April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

May 17, 2019

By Makini Brice and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defied a congressional subpoena seeking six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, all but guaranteeing a federal court battle with Congress over the records.

In a widely expected move, Mnuchin rejected a demand for the documents from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, saying the panel lacks “a legitimate legislative purpose” for obtaining the tax records that Democrats view as critical to their efforts to investigate Trump and his presidency.

“We are unable to provide the requested information in response to the committee’s subpoena,” Mnuchin said in a letter to Neal, released ahead of a 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) deadline for delivering the documents.

Neal later issued a statement, saying he was “consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward.”

Hours earlier, the Democratic chairman had said he was inclined to turn to federal court to obtain Trump’s tax returns, if the administration missed the deadline. “We will likely proceed to court as quickly as next week,” Neal had told reporters.

Asked whether he would also pursue contempt charges against administration officials, Neal told reporters: “I don’t see that right now as an option. I think that the better option for us is to proceed with a court case.”

Trump’s refusal to cooperate in numerous congressional probes of him, his family and his presidency is forcing Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, to look to the courts to enforce their oversight powers under the U.S. Constitution.

The likely decision to avoid contempt proceedings disappointed some Democrats on Neal’s tax panel.

“This is a way for some congressmen to go south on the issue: leave it to the courts. It really absents us from our responsibilities,” said Representative Bill Pascrell, who helped lead the push to obtain Trump’s tax returns.

OTHER DEMOCRATS MOVE TOWARD CONTEMPT

Unlike Neal, other top Democrats faced with administration defiance over inquiries have moved toward contempt charges.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s panel voted last week to recommend that the House cite Attorney General William Barr with contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia investigation report.

Trump’s decision to assert executive privilege over Mueller-related material last week has stymied efforts by Democrats to get current and former members of the executive branch to testify, including Mueller himself, according to congressional aides.

Democrats had sought to have Mueller testify by May 23, but sources familiar with the matter said on Friday that Mueller was unlikely to appear before the committee.

Democrats could move forward with more contempt citations as early as next week. Nadler has threatened to hold former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt, if he fails to show up for a hearing slated for Tuesday.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is also planning “enforcement action” against the Justice Department over a separate Mueller-related subpoena.

Democratic leaders are considering bundling separate contempt citations into a single House of Representatives package to bring to a floor vote later this year.

On Wednesday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nadler, saying Congress has no right to conduct a “do-over” of Mueller’s Russia probe, and that it would not participate in his committee’s investigation.

But congressional pressure on Trump is only expected to intensify.

Schiff’s committee meets on Monday to release closed-door testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who is in prison. Cohen talked to the panel in March about issues including Trump’s involvement in pursuing a Moscow tower project during the 2016 presidential election. Trump at the time publicly denied any links to Russia.

On Thursday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings announced another probe into the Trump administration, targeting what Cummings called “secret ethics waivers” allowing political appointees to continue working on matters they worked on before entering government.

In a statement, Cummings said he had requested that the administration turn over copies of waivers for political appointees to let them conduct official business, despite potential conflicts of interest.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and David Morgan; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House as Alabama state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery
FILE PHOTO – Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House as Alabama state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

May 17, 2019

By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – Companies operating in Alabama and Georgia, ranging from Toyota to Netflix, as well as an Alabama music festival faced boycott threats on Friday after the states passed near-total bans on abortion.

Responding to the United States’ most restrictive laws on the procedure, activists have taken aim at media companies that use Georgia as a production hub and Alabama-based automakers such as Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz.

A day after Maryland and Colorado officials told staff not to travel to Alabama to protest its abortion law passed Tuesday, people took to Twitter to say they were cancelling convention visits and beach vacations in the state.

Hangout Fest, a May 16-19 music festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama was targeted, with activists urging radio station SiriusXM to stop advertising the event and artists such as Cardi B, Travis Scott, Khalid and The Lumineers to boycott it.

Alabama earned $14.3 billion from nearly 27 million visitors in 2017, according to state data.

Activists were inspired by the partial success of boycotts that targeted Indiana over its 2015 religious freedom law, and North Carolina for its 2016 “bathroom bill” restricting their use by transgender people.

It remained to be seen whether large corporations would take a public stand on the polarizing issue of abortion.

None of the companies named in this story immediately replied to requests for comment.

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Cranfield was unavailable for comment. A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development declined to comment.

To date, only a few small film production companies have pulled out of Georgia, known as the “Hollywood of the South” for its $9.5 billion media production industry.

Boycott opponents, some of them Democrats, said it made no sense to economically punish Alabama, already one of the poorest U.S. states. Others said no amount of economic pain would sway them from their fight to defend unborn children’s rights.

Christopher Tyler Burks, who described himself as a “progressive Birmighamian,” urged people to support local groups like Emerge Alabama that fight for women’s reproductive rights.

“Rather than hate and #BoycottAlabama, use your voice to support the people in this state,” tweeted Burks, a researcher at American University in Washington.

(Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Chairman Schiff departs after House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to reporters as he departs after hearing testimony from Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, at a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

May 17, 2019

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said on Thursday the committee plans to take “enforcement action” to compel the Department of Justice to provide it with documents after Attorney General William Barr disregarded its subpoena.

The Democratic-led committee asked the department to provide “a dozen narrow sets” of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s assessment of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election by Wednesday, May 15, as an expression of good faith, Schiff told reporters.

“The deadline came and went without the production of a single document, raising profound questions about whether the department has any intention to honor its legal obligations,” he said.

Schiff had issued a subpoena to the Justice Department last week to obtain Mueller’s unredacted report, in addition to other material and documents gathered during the 22-month investigation.

As a result, the committee will have a business meeting next week to consider next steps. Schiff declined to elaborate on whether that meant holding the department in contempt of Congress, saying the panel would confer with the House of Representatives’ general counsel.

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the missed deadline, or Schiff’s assertion that Trump, a Republican, was stonewalling Democrats after providing more than a million documents to Congress when his fellow Republicans controlled the House.

“They have not yet provided any explanation for that apparent hypocrisy. So we’re moving forward reluctantly. We hope the department will reconsider, but they are providing us little choice but to pursue legal enforcement,” Schiff said.

Schiff said he hoped the department would reconsider, but was prepared to act.

“We still hold out a small but vanishing hope that the department will follow its legal obligations. But it is certainly my sense that this is a top-down instruction from the president to stonewall every congressional request no matter how reasonable,” he said.

Schiff also said that the committee would hold a separate business meeting on Monday evening, after which he hoped to release recent testimony by Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Cohen reported to prison on Monday to begin a three-year sentence for his conviction on charges of arranging hush payments to two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump, financial crimes and lying to Congress.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN


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