April 04, 2019

Lightning Round — 4/4/2019

Lightning Round: April 4, 2019

by Chris Thomas

It’s another one of those weeks…

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Photo by Bethany Laird on Unsplash

Say what you will about Vladimir Lenin, and plenty of people have, the man was pithy.

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen

It’s one of those weeks. Let’s just run down the political news of the week, shall we?

Mueller Time

Attorney General Barr released his f̵a̵n̵f̵i̵c̵ summary of the Mueller Report late last month. In a development that shocked absolutely no one, polling shows that most Americans don’t trust the Trump administration to be its own judge and jury when it comes to deciding if the President broke any laws.

Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee voted on party lines to begin the process of subpoenaing the full Mueller Report. Republicans objected, citing the Barr summary as evidence that Democrats were essentially on a fishing expedition for anything damaging to the President. The New York Times headlined the following morning with “Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed

Mar-a-Lago

Back in February, ESPN reported that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was being charged with soliciting a prostitute at the “Orchids of Asia Day Spa” in Jupiter, Florida. That spa was previously (not at the time of Kraft’s charge) owned by Cindy Yang, who cheered the Patriots to victory at a Super Bowl party with President Trump.

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Photo (and caption) from NYT

Yang’s other massage businesses have also fallen under scrutiny for prostitution.

But while Yang has funneled thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, she may also be (wittingly or unwittingly) working for the Chinese government. Yang has been promoting events at Mar-a-Lago and selling access to the President to wealthy Chinese business executives. It was one of Yang’s Mar-a-Lago events that Yujing Zhang was attending when she was arrested with “four cellphones, a hard drive, a laptop and a malware-infected thumb drive

Tax Season

House Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee officially requested access to President Trump’s last six years of tax returns on Wednesday. Trump continues to resist requests to see his taxes, claiming that he is still under audit from the IRS. The request from Ways and Means asks the IRS for “broad details about Trump’s personal tax returns from 2013 to 2018 — including whether the returns are or have been under audit.”

This is likely the first exchange of a long and drawn out fight between the President and the Congress over Mr Trump’s taxes.

Other Assorted Malfeasance

Jared Kushner’s security clearance was denied because of concerns about foreign influence over him but the White House demanded it be granted anyway. Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt de-registered as a federal lobbyist in November of 2016 but newly released invoices show he was still lobbying for agribusiness clients through April 2017, the same month he was appointed as Secretary of the Interior. Mitch McConnell finally gave up all pretense that a Senate confirmation is anything more than a partisan rubber stamp by reducing the amount of time the Senate will debate even low-level Presidential appointments. In so doing he ends a deliberative tradition begun more than 213 years ago by Aaron Burr (sir). Also, the President of the United States thinks that the noises from windmills cause cancer (link does not go to The Onion).

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