foreboding of things to come under Trump

Rough Start For US Republicans In First Day Of Trump-Era Congress

NDTV - ‎1 hour ago‎
Washington, United States: The Republican-led US Congress had a rough start to its first session of the Donald Trump era on Tuesday after the House of Representatives had to backtrack on a decision to defang an ethics watchdog following a public outcry 

Analysis: House fails in a good way to blunt ethics probes

The House Republicans dropped the proposal to limit an independent watchdog branch that investigates lawmakers. Trump tweeted it's not the right time. USA TODAY NETWORK
It was a line buried in an Office of Congressional Ethics report that tipped me off to members of Congress and staff receiving more than 200 improper trips overseas from groups tied to a Turkish cleric now accused of launching a failed coup in Turkey.
Under the new rules House Republicans approved late Monday then abandoned Tuesday, I never would have seen the report.
The 2015 OCE report on a May 2013 trip to Azerbaijan by 10 members of Congress and 29 staffers concluded that the travel was not in fact paid for by the non-profit groups that had invited everyone, but by a foreign oil company, which is a violation of House rules. But the report also included an admission from the non-profit groups that they regularly relied on a Turkish organization to provide free travel for Capitol Hill VIPs on trips to Turkey. That allowed me to track down 200 other trips these groups had sponsored over the past decade that had probably all violated House rules.
But the House Ethics Committee didn't want this report released. The committee had ordered OCE in March 2015 to drop its probe of the Azerbaijan trip, saying it had its own investigation under way, despite the fact that the committee had originally approved the trip for the entire congressional delegation, including Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., who was a member of the Ethics Committee. But OCE refused and proceeded to publish its report over the objections of the Ethics Committee.
Under the rules changes pushed by House Republicans on Monday night, OCE would have had to stand down.
Read more:
It is not the first time OCE has provided information to the public that the Ethics Committee could not or would not release. In 2010, then-congressman Nathan Deal, R-Ga., resigned while the Ethics Committee was reviewing allegations that he had used his congressional office to pressure state officials in Georgia on a vehicle policy that would help his family's auto-salvage business. His resignation meant that the Ethics Committee lost jurisdiction over him, but OCE decided to issue the report anyway, saying it had a right to release to the report on its own. Under the new rules, it would have lost that right.
In fact, with a handful of exceptions, the only information the public has had about House ethics cases during the past seven years has come from OCE reports. The rules as currently written require that once OCE has referred a matter to Ethics for further review — since OCE has no ability to rule on violations or issue punishments — the Ethics Committee has to publicly release the report even if it has made no decision on guilt or innocence. The most common action by Ethics is to release the report and declare that they are still looking onto the matter ... and no conclusion is ever announced. The new rules proposal raised questions about how much of the OCE work would still be public.
Since the OCE was created in 2008, it has publicly released about 70 reports on investigations of members of Congress and staff. By comparison, in 2007, before the OCE was created, the Ethics Committee announced reviews of conduct of four members of Congress. Two  cases involved lawmakers who were facing charges in court; the other two were for improper trips taken four years earlier.
On the Senate side, with no similar independent ethics review body, the Senate Ethics Committee has not publicly announced a single investigation against a senator in nearly 5 years.
It is not clear exactly how the new proposed rules would have affected ethics investigations, but it is almost certain that the net result would have been that the public would learn less about allegations of ethics violations by their elected officials.
This is also not the first — and probably not the last — attempt by lawmakers to make it harder for OCE to investigate them. Two years ago, Republicans pushed through a late-night amendment that underscored the need for OCE to protect the due process rights of accused lawmakers. It is not clear that rules change had much impact.

HUFFPOST HILL - Better Angels Of Our Nature Totally Cuck House GOP

04/01/2017 3:58 AM IST | Updated 1 hour ago
Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters
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Joe Biden reminded everyone why he might be the closest thing humanity has to a walking, talking “tfw” joke. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are moving two blocks from the Obamas’ future home, though nobody is discussing their proximity to a nearby Islamic center for some reason. And a bunch of Hillary Clinton staffers have been recruited to run rapid response at the DNC, because what the opposition really needs are more black-and-white videos of Jonah Hill in a heather gray sweater solemnly telling us how much we need the individual mandate. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017:
GOP IN GISARRAY - The real loser in all of this is Rep. Blake Farenthold, who will now have that picture of himself dressed in duckling PJs re-broadcast to the world (see below!). Matt Fuller and Paige Lavender: “After a torrent of bad headlines, countless phone calls to member offices, and two tweets from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans dropped their plans to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics Tuesday, just minutes before the House was set to gavel in for the 115th Congress and adopt their rules package for the next two years. The amendment ― authored by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) ― would have placed the independent congressional ethics office under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, changed the OCE’s name and barred the office from releasing reports to the public. In effect, it would have neutered Congress’ most aggressive watchdog. The decision to strip the Goodlatte amendment came just before noon on Tuesday as Republicans planned to begin the 115th Congress. Earlier in the day, responding to numerous news reports about Republicans gutting the OCE, Trump asked in a tweet whether Republicans really had to make the ‘weakening’ of the ethics office their first order of business, though he also didn’t necessarily come out against the idea of eventually overhauling the OCE.” [HuffPost]
Read HuffPost’s Ryan Grim on what made this whole snafu truly important: It proved that Congress will still react to public outrage.
We just want to see Sandy Levin in Snapchat Spectacles: “Several Democrats took pictures on the House floor as the chamber held a quorum call to kick off the 115th Congress — a violation of House rules that Republicans want to start punishing with a fine of up to $2,500…. Taking photos or recording video on the House floor has been a longstanding violation of House rules, but the fine is something new Republicans are proposing this year as a delayed reaction to Democrats’ June sit-in on the House floor protesting gun violence. During the sit-in, Democrats used their cell phones to record video of their speeches and chants and took photos of themselves and their colleagues after Republicans turned off the CSPAN cameras that provide live access to the floor.” [Roll Call’s Lindsey McPherson]
Watch this video of our HuffPost DC colleagues reading mean tweets.
HERE’S SOME SWEET, SWEET CUD FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES DEMOCRATS TO CHEW ON - Ben Carson’s confirmation hearing before Senate Banking is quickly becoming our second-most anticipated confirmation hearing. David Dayen: “OneWest Bank, which Donald Trump’s treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office. The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions. In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had ‘uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct’ in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties.” [The Intercept]
BLACK PEOPLE WORRIED ABOUT JEFF SESSIONS FOR SOME REASON - But some of his best friends are ― oh, they aren’t? Lilly Workneh: “The NAACP is staging a sit-in protest at the office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions in Mobile, Alabama to speak out against his nomination by President-elect Donald Trump for attorney general. Several leaders of the civil rights organization have thus far participated in the protest, which kicked off Tuesday morning, including NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, and Alabama state NAACP President Benard Simelton. Brooks posted a tweet Tuesday morning declaring that he will continue to occupy the office until the protest results in either Sessions’ withdrawal or their arrest.” [HuffPost]
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THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU ‘DANGEROUS DONALD’ SOMEHOW GIVEN JOB - Listen closely to the wind and you can hear the anguished typing of a million Bernie Bros. Philip Rucker: “The Democratic National Committee is building a ‘war room’ to battle President-elect Donald Trump, pressure the new Republican administration on a variety of policy matters and train a spotlight on Russia’s alleged cyberattacks to influence the 2016 election…. The DNC’s new communications and research operation, to be staffed by former aides to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, will be one of several efforts from across the Democratic firmament to take on Trump, including the office of Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Center for American Progress and American Bridge.” [WaPo]
TRUMP DUBAI HOTEL OPENING TO PROVIDE FRESH CONFLICT OF INTEREST - It’s been a whole five minutes since the last ethical challenge. Jon Gambrell: “The Trump International Golf Club in Dubai — the sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates home to a futuristic skyline crowned by the world’s tallest building — is due to open in February and be managed by Trump Organization employees. It is set inside Akoya, a massive housing development of 2,600 villas and 7,000 apartments developed by Dubai-based luxury real estate DAMAC Properties. Another Trump-managed golf course is planned for another even larger DAMAC project under development further down the road. Billionaire Hussain Sajwani, who founded DAMAC Properties in 2002, met Trump some 10 years ago and the two men hit it off over their real estate experiences, said Niall McLoughlin, a senior vice president for communications and marketing at the firm…. Sajwani and his family also attended a New Year’s Eve party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, with the incoming president describing them from on stage as ‘the most beautiful people from Dubai.’” [AP]
‘JOEY NO SOCKS’ - Such good swamp-draining news today. Chris Sommerfeldt: “President-elect Donald Trump rang in the new year together with Joseph ‘Joey No Socks’ Cinque — a convicted felon with ties to notorious Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, a recently released video has revealed. Cinque can be seen in a video obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News, cheering loudly as a tuxedo-clad Trump runs through a number of campaign promises before the hundreds of guests attending the New Year’s Eve bash the President-elect threw at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday. ‘The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,’ Trump can be heard saying as an exuberant Cinque stands next to him, pumping his fists into the air.” [Daily News]
‘WHAT ABOUT CHICAGO?’ TROLLING NOW FEDERAL POLICY - “President-elect Donald Trump said Monday that if Mayor Rahm Emanuel can’t turn the tide on Chicago’s soaring murder rate, Washington may need to step in. Trump, who frequently cited Chicago’s violence during the presidential campaign, tweeted about The Windy City a day after the Chicago Police Department released year-end crime stats showing homicide numbers that dwarfed those of New York and Los Angeles combined. “Chicago murder rate is record setting - 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!” Trump tweeted.” [Fox News]
MEGYN KELLY HEADING TO NBC NEWS - We suppose it would be too much to ask for Shep Smith to get Kelly’s spot…. Michael Calderone: “Fox News host Megyn Kelly is leaving the cable news network for NBC News, the network announced Tuesday. Kelly will take on multiple roles at NBC. She’ll host a one-hour daytime talk show airing Monday through Friday and a Sunday evening news magazine show, and will contribute on breaking news stories and NBC’s coverage of major political and special events. ‘Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,’ Andrew Lack, chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, said in a release. ‘She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.’ The departure is a major blow to Fox News, where Kelly hosted a top-rated 9 p.m. show and was considered a key part of the network’s future. In a Facebook post, Kelly said she was ‘incredibly enriched for the experiences’ she had in a dozen years at Fox News.” [HuffPost]
Can you even begin to imagine this neighborhood listserv: “[M]ultiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl. NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House.” [Washingtonian’s Marisa Kashino]
THINGS STAY THE SAME - Once again, Heath Shuler was denied his place in history. John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney: “House Republicans overwhelmingly reelected Paul Ryan on Tuesday to another term as speaker of the House. Only one — Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — voted against him…. On the other side of the aisle, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi saw four defections in her own caucus: Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) voted for fellow Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) voted for Cooper. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-New York) also voted for Tim Ryan, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voted for Rep. John Lewis.” [Politico]
*Insert Illuminati joke here* “Former President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration later this month, aides to both Clintons told CNN on Tuesday. Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will also attend, the 43rd president’s office said in a statement Tuesday.” [CNN’S Dan Merica and Theodore Schleifer]
THE GOP’S OBAMACARE CLOWN SHOW HAS BEGUN - Congress officially took the first procedural step Tuesday to unravel the health law, and Republicans still have no clue what the final step will be. Noam Levey: “Congressional Republicans, despite pledging to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act, are struggling with what parts of the law to roll back and how to lock up the votes they will need, particularly in the Senate, to push their ambitious plans. Settling these questions may delay any major repeal vote for months. Just as importantly, a protracted debate could force President-elect Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers to preserve parts of the healthcare law they once swore to eliminate. And this all must be resolved before they even turn to the question of how to replace the law.” [LA Times]
TRUMP CAMP PROMISES PRESS CONFERENCE FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME - He totally won’t back out again, you guys. Callum Borchers: “Donald Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Monday that the president-elect will probably hold a news conference Jan. 11. ‘I know that’s the current plan,’ Conway said, sounding less than certain. Let’s not forget that a September event originally billed as a news conference turned out to be an infomercial for Trump’s new D.C. hotel — capped by a brief concession that President Obama was, in fact, born in the United States. And last month’s long-planned news conference was scrapped just days beforehand. So plans can change. Assuming Trump does follow through next week, his news conference drought will end at 168 days — a staggeringly long stretch for a man who once constantly held court with reporters and seemed to view the interactions as a kind of sport.” [WaPo]
CONGRESS LOVES JESUS MORE THAN AMERICA DOES - Science says so. Eliza Collins: “Lawmakers in Congress are overwhelmingly Christian, more even than the America they represent. Nine out of 10 members the new House and Senate (91%) sworn in Tuesday describe themselves as members of the Christian faith, according to a survey released by Pew Research Center Tuesday. The number of Christians in Congress is higher than the number of Americans who identify as Christian. That number has been declining in recent decades. Between the early 1970s and 90s the number hovered around 90% but by early 2000 it had dropped to around 80%. According to a spokeswoman from Pew, that number continues to decrease.” [USA Today]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog being shamed about its snoring.
BREAKING RICHARD NIXON NEWS - Peter Baker: “Richard M. Nixon told an aide that they should find a way to secretly ‘monkey wrench’ peace talks in Vietnam in the waning days of the 1968 campaign for fear that progress toward ending the war would hurt his chances for the presidency, according to newly discovered notes. In a telephone conversation with H. R. Haldeman, who would go on to become White House chief of staff, Nixon gave instructions that a friendly intermediary should keep ‘working on’ South Vietnamese leaders to persuade them not to agree to a deal before the election, according to the notes, taken by Mr. Haldeman.” [NYT]