After GOP Healthcare Embarrassment, Bannon-Style “Administrative Deconstruction” of Obamacare is Coming

Democrats spent little time on Wednesday gloating about Republicans’ recent Obamacare repeal failure and instead blasted the Trump administration for planned cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services. One Democratic legislator after another teed off on Department Secretary Tom Price, in an appropriations subcommittee hearing. They accused him of planning to wreck Obamacare through executive inaction and austerity measures. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Price was carrying out a strategy articulated by Steve Bannon, the ex-Breitbart editor and White House aide. “I see… Keep Reading

Congress Seeks to Penalize Peaceful Pro-Palestine Movement, Amid Annual AIPAC Lobbying Blitz

The influential pro-Israel group AIPAC is asking supporters to back recently-drafted legislation that seeks to punish a peaceful movement in solidarity with Palestinians. The organization, which is in Washington this week for an annual policy conference, is dispatching members to lobby lawmakers to pass the bill. One Washington-based group decrying Israel’s occupation of Palestine has said the proposal is unconstitutional. “This dangerous bill seeks to impose fines on corporations that boycott business dealings with illegal Israeli settlements,” said Josh Ruebner, the policy director of the US… Keep Reading

White House Digs Claws Deeper in Congressional Probe of Russia Connections

*UPDATED TO INCLUDE RESPONSE FROM WHITE HOUSE* A decision to abruptly cancel House Intelligence Committee hearings this week was reportedly forced by the Trump administration. The Washington Post obtained letters regarding a forthcoming appearance of former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates before the committee, as part of its investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Yates was slated to appear before the panel on Tuesday, but the correspondences retrieved by the Post suggest that the White House moved to block her… Keep Reading

E.P.A. Chief Signals Death of Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Agreement

An Obama-era regulation seeking to reduce carbon pollution and slow global temperature increases is next on the chopping block for the Trump administration. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt told ABC News over the weekend that the President will sign an executive order Tuesday to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. The order will “address the past administration’s effort to kill jobs across this country through the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said. He added that the move is “about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach… Keep Reading

Obama Admin. Regulator Warns “Massive” Derivatives Market Fraud Is Flying Under the Radar

A former top financial regulator who served under President Obama has warned that there is “a massive amount of misconduct” that goes unpunished in derivatives markets. Ex-Commodity Futures Trading Commission enforcement chief Aitan Goelman told Reuters on Friday that the body lacks the means to ferret out malfeasance, in the era of computerized trading. “We could do a lot more manipulation cases. We have all these new enforcement tools and this vastly expanded jurisdiction and data,” Goelman said. “But you have to be acutely conscious… Keep Reading

Wall Street Can Hire Firm Tied to Trump SEC Chair to Lessen Chance of Getting Punished

President Trump’s pick to be the United States’ top stock market regulator has been described as a “fox guarding the henhouse.” But the predator analogy might not be appropriate because he would be napping for much of the time, according to ethics rules and his job history. SEC Chair-nominee Jay Clayton would have to recuse himself from a wide range of cases involving heavy-hitters in the financial industry, he admitted on Thursday, before the Senate Banking Committee. As a partner at a well-heeled law firm, Clayton… Keep Reading

Watchdog: D.E.A. Informant Program Undermines Foreign Policy and U.S. Security

More damning information came out on Thursday about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s reliance on confidential informants, including new details about how it jeopardizes “national security, foreign relations, and civil liberties.” The Department of Justice Inspector General released a public summary of a classified addendum that was affixed to a scathing report, released last September, on the DEA’s use of confidential sources. The prior audit discovered that the agency did not properly oversee its network of informants, increasing the risk of fraud and constitutional abuses. The new… Keep Reading

Distrust of Surveillance State Grows, As Expiration of Key Law Inches Closer

Democrats and Republicans teamed up to blast the FBI on Wednesday, using a government audit on facial recognition capabilities to suggest that surveillance reform could be in the offing. The Bureau has been the target of anger from both parties over the past few months, with criminal investigations impacting presidential politics like they haven’t since the Nixon Era. House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) brought up some of the recent displeasure from conservatives, in a hearing before the panel. “Somebody decided to take off… Keep Reading

Pro-Gorsuch Dark Money Raises Doubts About Judicial Independence

A Democratic lawmaker expressed concerns on Tuesday about a well-funded advocacy campaign compromising the independence of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted that conservative donors are anonymously spending $10 million on lobbying for Gorsuch’s appointment. He said the initiative raises questions about Gorsuch needing to recuse himself from future cases, should his nomination pass the Senate. Those queries, however, cannot currently be answered, with the money having been given anonymously. When asked by Whitehouse about the source of the funding, Gorsuch… Keep Reading

Pattern of Deportation As Retaliation Emerging in Trump Era

Recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions raise questions about the Trump Administration using deportation proceedings to punish political opponents—both institutions and individuals. Three undocumented activists in Vermont were arrested over the past week by ICE agents—two of them, while leaving the office of an organization that advocates for immigrants’ rights. In Texas, meanwhile, a federal magistrate judge on Monday confirmed that immigration agents were conducting raids in response to policy changes carried out by the county seat of Austin. The Texas-based federal magistrate, Judge Andrew… Keep Reading

Dem Intel Leader Praises Trump’s Electronics Ban

The Department of Homeland Security enacted a new policy in the early morning hours on Tuesday, blocking travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations from bringing larger electronics on flights to the US. The rules affect 10 airports in eight nations, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. They apply only to foreign carriers, not US airliners. Electronics covered by the ban include laptops, tablets, cameras, and larger gaming consoles. They can, however, be carried in checked bags. Officials told the… Keep Reading

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