06 Apr 2017 – House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes recuses himself from Russia probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) temporarily recused himself Thursday from all matters related to the committee’s ongoing probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, as House investigators look into ethics charges against him.

The House Ethics Committee released a statement Thursday saying it had “determined to investigate” allegations that “Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”

Nunes denied the charges as “entirely false and politically motivated,” blaming “several leftwing activist groups” for filing complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics. Nunes said his recusal — which only applies to the committee’s Russia investigation — would be in effect while the House Ethics Committee looks into the matter, noting that he had asked to speak with that committee “at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”

In the meantime, Nunes said, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) will take the lead on the Russia investigation, with assistance from Reps. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — who also sits on the Ethics Committee.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he does not think Nunes did anything wrong, but “fully support[s] his decision.”

Washington Post

06 Apr 2017 – 220 Cities Losing All Passenger Train Service per Trump Elimination of all Federal Funding for Amtrak’s National Network Trains

These proposed cuts come as President Trump continues to promise that our tax dollars will be invested in rebuilding America’s infrastructure,” continued Mathews. “Instead, we have seen an all-out assault on any project — public and private — that would advance passenger rail. These cuts and delays are costing the U.S. thousands of good-paying construction and manufacturing jobs in America’s heartland at this very moment.

Mathews was referring to the decision by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to indefinitely suspend a grant that would allow California to proceed with a commuter rail electrification project. Caltrain, the agency overseeing the project, estimates the project would create 9,600 total direct and indirect jobs. The delay also threatens the construction of a new railcar assembly plant planned for Salt Lake City, which would generate sustainable, family-wage jobs for 550 employees.

For full list of cities affected, visit the source link

Mass Transit

https://archive.is/q8D9q

05 Apr 2017 – Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon stripped of national security council role

Donald Trump’s political strategist Steve Bannon has lost his place on the national security council in a staff shakeup, documents show.

An 4 April presidential memorandum took Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive and chief White House link to the nationalist rightwing, off the US’s main body for foreign policy and national security decision-making. It also restores the traditional roles of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence onto the NSC.

While the revamp is likely to be seen as a victory for Trump’s second national security adviser, army lieutenant general HR McMaster, the substantive impact of the shakeup remains to be seen. A parallel security structure in the Eisenhower executive office building, known as the Strategic Initiatives Group, reports to Bannon, whose closeness to Trump is a signal-marker of influence in this administration.

The Guardian

https://archive.is/FOPqK

04 Apr 2017 – Trump signs repeal of U.S. broadband privacy rules

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed a repeal of Obama-era broadband privacy rules, the White House said, a victory for internet service providers and a blow to privacy advocates.

Republicans in Congress last week narrowly passed the repeal of the privacy rules with no Democratic support and over the strong objections of privacy advocates.

The signing, disclosed in White House statement late on Monday, follows strong criticism of the bill, which is a win for AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc.

The bill repeals regulations adopted in October by the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama administration requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc’s Google or Facebook Inc.

The rules had not yet taken effect but would have required internet providers to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

Reuters

https://archive.is/u7jcc

03 Apr 2017 – Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.

Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump.

Washington Post

https://archive.is/ZFdAF

01 Apr 2107 – Michael Flynn’s Immunity Request Rejected By Senate Intelligence Committee

The Senate Intelligence Committee turned down the request by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer for a grant of immunity in exchange for his testimony, two congressional sources told NBC News.

A senior congressional official with direct knowledge said Flynn’s lawyer was told it was “wildly preliminary” and that immunity was “not on the table” at the moment. A second source said the committee communicated that it is “not receptive” to Flynn’s request “at this time.”

NBC

31 Mar 2017 – Trump leaves room before signing orders

President Donald Trump left the Oval Office on Friday without signing the executive orders that he was there to announce.

“Jobs and wealth have been stripped from our country,” he said before exiting.

He continued walking as a reporter shouted questions about whether Mr Trump was directing his administration to grant immunity to fired adviser Michael Flynn.

Amid journalists’ confusion, Vice-President Mike Pence picked up the orders from the table, and they were signed in another room.

BBC

30 Mar 2017 – Flynn offers to testify on Russia for immunity

President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has reportedly told the FBI that he is willing to testify about the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia, in exchange for immunity from prosecution, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The Hill

https://archive.is/nZZnB

28 Mar 2017 – Quick update about the absence of the recent, possible Russian-connection stories

This site is still active, but recently there’s been more accusations and circumstantial evidence in the news rather than hard actions taken by Trump and his administration.

Until there is an official statement or hard evidence, I’m going to avoid posting the possibilities concerning Russia.

As always, if I’ve missed anything that you feel should be on this site, send an email to: [email protected]

-N

 

25 Mar 2017 – Bannon told conservatives ‘this is not a debate,’ you have to back bill

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told a group of House conservatives they had no choice but to back the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill days before the bill was pulled, according to a new report.

Bannon confronted members of the House Freedom Caucus earlier this week during the White House’s push for the American Health Care Act, Axios’s Mike Allen reported Saturday in his newsletter.

“Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill,” Bannon reportedly said.

A Freedom Caucus member reportedly replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

The Hill

https://archive.is/oObnN

24 Mar 2017 – House GOP abruptly pulls troubled health care bill

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., withdrew the legislation after Trump called him and asked him to halt debate without a vote, according to Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. Just a day earlier, Trump had demanded a House vote and said if the measure lost, he would move on to other issues.

Associated Press

https://archive.is/5MiJY

23 Mar 2017 – House delays Obamacare replacement vote as it struggles to muster votes

The House of Representatives delayed its vote on repealing and replacing parts of the Affordable Care Act after Republican leaders failed to rally enough support to pass the bill, sources told CNBC.

The GOP House caucus will meet at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday to discuss its path forward, NBC News reported. House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told CNN that House debate on the bill will start Friday morning. But a White House spokeswoman said debate will begin on Thursday night and Republicans expect to have the votes to pass it on Friday.

 The postponement is a sobering setback for Republicans, who aimed to approve health-care legislation before moving to other parts of their agenda, particularly tax reform. The GOP had timed Thursday’s now-aborted vote to the seventh anniversary of the passage of the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare.
https://archive.is/leJPk

23 Mar 2017 – Trump: ‘I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president and you’re not’

“I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right,” Trump told Time’s Washington bureau chief Michael Scherer in an interview conducted Wednesday and published Thursday morning. “I tend to be right. I’m an instinctual person, I happen to be a person that knows how life works.”

To support his claim, Trump pointed to his prediction that Britain would vote to leave the European Union, his insistence that NATO member states meet their defense spending obligations when “nobody knew that they weren’t paying” and his shocking victory in the presidential election itself as proof that he is often proven right.

But Trump also pointed to more dubious examples, including his mysterious reference during a February rally to some unspecified event that happened “last night in Sweden” when nothing had happened in the Scandinavian country the night before. The White House later sought to clarify that Trump had been speaking generally about rising crime in Sweden, not a specific event, but in his Time interview, Trump said he had been vindicated by riots that broke out in Stockholm two days after his “last night” remark.

“That’s the story,” Trump said as the interview ended. “Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know.”

Politico

https://archive.is/Xd0KG

21 Mar 2017 – Trump signs NASA bill, authorizing $19.5 billion in spending for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The measure amends current law to add human exploration of the red planet as a goal for the agency. It supports use of the International Space Station through at least 2024, along with private sector companies partnering with NASA to deliver cargo and experiments, among other steps.

After signing the bill, Trump invited several lawmakers to comment, starting with Cruz. When Trump invited Vice President Mike Pence to speak, he suggested that Nelson be allowed to say a few words. Nelson traveled into space when he was in the House.

“He’s a Democrat. I wasn’t going to let him speak,” Trump quipped, to laughter. Nelson ultimately got a chance to briefly praise his bill.

Associated Press

https://archive.is/rnPN0

21 Mar 2017 – White House issues gag order to officials on budget details

The White House is instructing Cabinet heads and agency officials not to elaborate on President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts beyond what was in a relatively brief submission, a move Democrats decried as a gag order.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney wrote in a memo late last week that until the full budget release in May, “all public comments of any sort should be limited to the information contained in the Budget Blueprint chapter for your agency,” referring to the 53-page document released last Thursday.

“It is critically important that you not make commitments about specific programs if they are not expressly mentioned in the budget,” Mulvaney wrote in the memo. “Similarly, you should not address account-level details. Comments of such specifics need to wait until the release of the full budget.”

Associated Press

https://archive.is/D2RCc

17 Mar 2017 – White House cites satire column to tout budget in official newsletter

The White House included a satirical column in its list of news stories meant to promote Trump agenda — apparently ignoring the fact that the column actually [attacks] Trump’s new budget.

Friday’s edition of the “1600 Daily” highlighted a Washington Post article by humorist Alexandra Petri with a deceptively positive title: “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why.”

But Petri’s column is actually a brutal attack on Trump’s proposed budget, with cuts domestic programs and the State Department while boosting the defense budget.

“Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful, macho-sounding name, is too vague and makes all sorts of cuts to needed programs in favor of increasing military spending by leaps and bounds,” she wrote Thursday. “These people are wimps.”

“America has been soft and weak for too long,” Petri added. “BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.”

The Hill

https://archive.is/Qu3zJ

17 Mar 2017 – Trump mistakenly calls the United States a company, and ignores German chancellor Merkel’s and press’s request for handshake

President Donald Trump mistakenly called the United States a company in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday. The visit came as Merkel and other worlds leaders were calling on Trump to uphold the U.S.’ free trade deals.

Asked about his isolationism by a German reporter, Trump said, “The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years and that’s going to stop.”

“We’re a very powerful company—country,” Trump added, apparently catching his mistake. “We’re a very strong, very strong country, we’ll soon be at a level perhaps we’ve never been before. Our military is going to be strengthened, it’s been depleted. But I am a trader, I am a free trader, I am a trader that wants to see good for everybody worldwide. But I am not an isolationist but any stretch of the imagination.”

Newsweek

https://archive.is/8fIGL

For comparison: Trump’s 19 second handshake with Prime Minister Abe from Japan

17 Mar 2017 – White House calls climate change efforts a “waste of your money”

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says the Trump administration is cutting spending for climate change efforts because “we consider that to be a waste of your money.”

Mulvaney says: “I think the president is fairly straightforward. We’re not spending money on that.”

President Donald Trump has often called climate change a “hoax” and his EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, said last week he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. Trump’s proposed budget would cut the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent — nearly one-third — and eliminate more than 3,200 jobs.

PBS

https://archive.is/LL8MA

16 Mar 2017 – Paul Ryan, Senate Intel committee see no evidence of Trump wiretap; Spicer says Trump ‘stands by’ unproven allegation that Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower

“We have not seen any evidence that there was a wiretap or a (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court order against Trump Tower or somebody in Trump Tower,” Speaker Paul Ryan said in an interview Thursday on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer.

https://archive.is/lBRgN

In a remarkably combative exchange with reporters at his daily news briefing, Spicer was asked whether Trump still believes Obama ordered the alleged surveillance effort.

“He stands by it,” Spicer said, going on to assail journalists for the way they have reported on the controversy.

Washington Post

https://archive.is/OdMX9

16 Mar 2017 – Flynn was paid by Russia’s top cybersecurity firm while he still had top-secret security clearance

Retired Gen. Michael Flynn was paid $11,250 by Russia’s top cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky, in 2015, according to new documents obtained and published by the Congressional Oversight Committee on Thursday. Flynn was also paid $11,250 by the Russian charter cargo airline Volga-Dnepr Airlines, according to the documents.

Flynn was paid for his work with both companies while he still had top-secret-level security clearance, a year after he was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, The Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris reported.

Kaspersky said in a statement provided to Business Insider that the company had “paid Gen. Flynn a speaker fee for remarks at the 2015 Government Cybersecurity Forum in Washington, DC.”

Flynn – who was forced to resign as national security adviser in early February after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak – was also paid $33,750 to speak at a gala celebrating the 10th anniversary of Russia’s state-sponsored news agency, RT, in December 2015.

Business Insider

https://archive.is/qEhrt