Hearings Seem A Little Less Impactful With The President Out Of Town And Not Constantly Monitoring And Live-Tweeting. Still There’s A Lot To Talk About.
The real fireworks during John Brennan’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee came when Republican members, in particular South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy, repeatedly tried to get him to say while there might have been “contact”, there was no evidence of “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign. Brennan pushed back, saying the CIA is not a law enforcement agency so he couldn’t make that determination. He did say he came across “suspicious contacts” between Russian officials and people in the Trump campaign, and he alerted the FBI to that. You can see his exchange with Gowdy below or at this link.
Gowdy Likely To Soon Be Oversight Committee Head
The Washington Post reports Trey Gowdy will almost certainly replace Jason Chaffetz as head of the powerful House Oversight Committee, when Chaffetz resigns from Congress next month. That transition is not without it’s own controversy, sort of: Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is senior to Gowdy, in explaining why he won’t challenge for the position, said “you guys know how this works: The establishment’s not going to put the anti-establishment guy in charge of the committee whose job it is to go after the establishment.” But then he added “Trey’s a good guy.”
Intelligence Director Says “Inappropriate” To Comment On Report of “Inappropriate” Trump Request
National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats would not comment on a Washington Post report that President Trump asked him to intervene and refute the FBI investigation into possible connections between his Presidential campaign and Russia. According to the Post, Coats denied Trump’s request because he felt it was inappropriate. In testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Coats told Senator John McCain responding to the Post report would be inappropriate.
Trump Hires His #1 Litigator To Represent Him In Robert Mueller Investigation
The hiring of Marc Kasowitz was first reported by Fox Business and subsequently confirmed by other news organizations. Kasowitz’ firm most recently defended the President against allegations of fraud at Trump University. That case was settled with Trump paying a total of 25-million dollars to disgruntled students, but not admitting wrongdoing. Now he will look after the President’s interests in dealing with the special counsel investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Bringing the hotshot lawyer on board could impact Trump’s pick for the new FBI Director. White House officials last week said Trump’s “leading candidate” is former Al Gore running mate, Joe Lieberman. But he currently works for Kasowitz’ firm.
Impact Of “Trumpcare” Will Become Clearer Today With The Release Of Congressional Budget Office Report
The House didn’t wait for the CBO’s estimate of how their new plan would impact the federal budget before passing its bill. There’s even some chance the house might have to make adjustments to its bill and vote again if the CBO finds it doesn’t meet deficit reduction requirements. Here’s an explanation from Bloomberg.
The Senate has been waiting on the CBO numbers and is likely to start working more busily on its version of the bill shortly after the release.
New Arrests Today In Manchester Attack After Bomber Identified
Three new arrests this morning in Britain’s investigation of a terror attack following an Ariana Grande concert in the northern city of Manchester. Britain’s Interior Minister and global intelligence sources say 22-year old bomber Salman Abedi had probably not acted alone, and also probably had direct contact with terrorist groups. Amber Rudd said Abedi was “previously known to authorities” and some local news reports suggest people in the local Libyan community warned police about him. The Britain-born Abedi had recently visited his parents’ homeland of Libya, and there is evidence he may have been to Syria as well.
This as the British army was deployed at large public gathering places and tourist spots. Initially a force of about 1000 were put on patrol; that number could expand to 4000. The finals of a major soccer tournament is of particular focus; set for this weekend in London. (Both Manchester teams had previously been knocked out.)
Security experts suggest the bombing appeared to be carried out on a walkway near the stadium, due to tighter security inside. And they say even with quick response, their best hope is to minimize threats and the impact of attacks. No one has reported on whether that particular event was targeted because the performers were from the U.S.
Here’s a frequently updated wrap-up of all the latest [Manchester Evening News]
Pope Focuses On Non-Violent Ways To Achieve Peace, And Global Warming, In Meeting Today With Trump
Trump’s Vatican City meeting today went smoothly. The most telling interaction: Pope Francis providing Trump with two encyclicals he’s written: one entitled “Nonviolence – A Style of Politics for Peace,” the other about the importance of protecting the earth from climate change. Trump said “Well, I’ll be reading them.”
Trump Budget “Dead On Arrival” According To Number #2 Republican In Senate
The release of a more complete version of Trump’s original budget proposal changed very little: hitting very hard at social programs, deep cuts in Medicaid and food stamps, while boosting military spending, and setting aside more than a billion and a half dollars to start building “the wall.” New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer pointed out the proposal slashes infrastructure spending by more than the President has proposed adding in a separate infrastructure bill. And Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn called it “dead on arrival.”
Although the President has to sign off on the budget, it’s the job of congress to put it together. So Presidential proposals are viewed mainly as expressions of priorities. Still the New York Times suggests while Trump won’t get “his” budget, congress is taking it as a signal to deliver something austere. Because if not, Trump has suggested from time-to-time he might be up for a fight, even if it means temporarily shutting down the government.
And former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers was the first to point out the Trump budget includes a huge error that would “justify failing a student in an introductory economics course.” This math error is a little difficult to explain, but we’re going to give it a shot: the Trump plan balances the budget through 3% economic growth, to be achieved by stimulation provided by tax cuts, but the tax cuts are also supposed to “pay for themselves” through 3% growth. So they’re counting the same thing twice. It’s like you see a new apartment that’s really great but $300 a month over your budget. But you say to yourself: “I’ll be happier here, so I’ll be more productive at work, so I’ll get a raise, and that’ll make up for it.” (That in itself could be wishful thinking.) But let’s say you do get the raise and then you start thinking “I’ve got $300 extra a month now, I can lease a new BMW!” But no. That $300 is already going to make up for what you were short on the apartment. You’d actually need a $600 raise to cover that and the BMW. Make sense? No. Right? But that’s the “trick” Summers is pointing out Trump’s folks are trying to pull off.
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