Hunter Must Speak Out Against Trump’s Anti-Investigation Crusade

Hunter Must Speak Out Against Trump’s Anti-Investigation Crusade

Whether or not Republicans, including our Representative, are willing to speak up against Mr. Trump’s pushing on the limits of democracy, we need to speak up. As many political pundits have noted, Mr. Trump’s statements and behaviors this past week seem to indicate that he is toying with ideas on how to squash or discredit Mr. Mueller’s Russia investigation. If there is no or not enough of a push-back, the odds greatly increase that Mr. Trump will pursue one of his tactics, which unequivocally will weaken our democracy. Having an outcry after he has done the action, while important, cannot rewind time and retroactively protect the separation of powers, which are integral to our democracy.

Representative Hunter has made no public statements on this matter. In fact, his last official statement on Mr. Trump and Russia was on May 17th of this year entitled, “Hunter: Let President Trump try to work with Russia” (https://hunter.house.gov/hunter-let-president-trump-try-work-russia). Thus it is important that we are a voice of wisdom for Rep. Hunter and urge him to take a stand against the unethical acts Mr. Trump is toying with. Let us urge Rep. Hunter to warn Mr. Trump that there is such a thing as going too far. (If you need a dose of encouragement about contacting our oh so not receptive Representative: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/07/21/the_resistance_is_already_planning_for_when_trump_fires_robert_mueller.html).The acts we want Rep. Hunter to speak up against are Mr. Trump trying to have Attorney General (AG) Sessions resign or firing him, striving to discredit the Mueller investigation and potentially pardoning all those involved in the Russia debacle.

The reason for getting AG Sessions out of the way is that contrary to Mr. Trump’s opinion, the Special Counsel position i.e. Mr. Mueller reports to the AG and only the AG (or in this case the Deputy AG, since Mr. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation) can terminate the Special Counsel; hence if Mr. Trump wants Mr. Mueller fired Trump needs to replace Mr. Sessions (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/07/23/sessions-may-be-trumps-achilles-heel/?utm_term=.25512873b8b3). The President’s initial attempt at pushing Mr. Sessions to resign came in Mr. Trump’s now famous New York Times articles from July 19th, where Mr. Trump gave a vote of no confidence on Mr. Sessions by stating that Mr. Trump would not have hired Mr. Sessions had Trump known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-sessions-russia.html). Another, potential, effort to push Mr. Sessions out of office is the recently leaked information that Mr. Sessions spoke with the Russian Ambassador about policy issues during the campaign – and hence lied under oath to the Senate (http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/07/21/sessions-discussed-trump-campaign-related-matters-with-russian-ambassador-intelligence-intercepts-show/TXVDiLIOQFbJ09pSf4MGwI/story.html?p1=BGMenu_Article).

The second avenue of inappropriate behaviors is the Administration’s attempts at discrediting Mr. Mueller and the investigation. There are two arms of this approach, the first is stating that Mr. Mueller’s appointment is illegitimate and the second is claiming that there are egregious conflicts of interest within the Special Counsel’s team. The supposed illegitimacy of Mr. Mueller being the Special Counsel has to do with Mr. Mueller having been interviewed for the position of FBI Director and the fact that Mr. Mueller worked with and knows Mr. Comey. When this, faulty, logic is expressed by Trump allies it is never explained why these facts make Mr. Mueller’s position illegitimate. The argument that campaign contributions are conflicts of interest is erroneous in that making a campaign contribution is specifically not on the Justice Department’s list of identified conflicts of interests. In addition to pushing these spurious claims, the Administration is actively digging through the backgrounds and lives of the Special Counsel’s team in order to find damaging information. Sources: http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343164-trump-launches-all-out-assault-on-mueller-probe; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/us/politics/donald-trump-robert-mueller-russia-investigation.html; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html?utm_term=.040ab9ae3a0f; http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-pardon-power-amid-white-houses-escalating-war-on-russia-probe-2017-7.

The final concerning action of Mr. Trump’s with regard to the Russia investigation is Mr. Trump’s alleged research into his pardon power alongside his statements that he has total pardon power. It came to light earlier in the week that Mr. Trump was having his legal team look into aspects of his pardoning power, including whether a President can pardon himself. Since this breaking news the Administration has been putting out statements and commentaries intended to change course – the current party line is that of course the President is not looking into this and why would he need to pardon anyone since the whole Russia issue is all made-up anyways, to quote Mr. Trump, “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/23/politics/donald-trump-pardon/index.html). Additional articles on this issue: http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-trump-tweets-that-president-has-1500725784-htmlstory.html, http://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/343369-talk-of-trump-pardons-reverberates-on-sunday-shows, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/us/politics/donald-trump-jeff-sessions.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-latest-trump-asserts-pardon-power-in-morning-tweets/2017/07/22/c6a5f28a-6f40-11e7-abbc-a53480672286_story.html?utm_term=.f9a7b09d2961, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-lawyer-open-question-president-pardon/story?id=48791366. Regardless of any legal issues regarding the President’s pardon powers, the statements he made about having and using them are a clear message to the Special Counsel’s investigative team that even if they find wrongdoing by Trump and associates, no one will pay any consequences.

 

 

 

H.J. Res 41 Oil, Mining and Natural Gas Companies are Officially Allowed to pay Corrupt Governments in Order to do Business…

H.J. Res 41 Oil, Mining and Natural Gas Companies are Officially Allowed to pay Corrupt Governments in Order to do Business…

There are many wealthy nations in this world and there could be, even should be, many more for numerous nations have access to great riches within their soils – be it oil, minerals or natural gas. US Foreign Policy has been to support transparency in the extraction industries (i.e. all the companies & processes involved in extracting oil, minerals, coal and natural gas) so that citizens of these resource rich yet economically poor nations can better ensure that corruption stays clear from their wealth (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/07/27/2016-15676/disclosure-of-payments-by-resource-extraction-issuers). Put more simply the thrust of U.S. Foreign Policy has been to ensure that citizens can know who is paying whom and can have confidence that their governments, politicians, businessmen/businesswomen are not stealing the wealth of the people.

Thus in 2010 a new section was added to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was adopted in 2012, vacated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2013, re-adopted in 2015, combined with another amendment and turned into law in 2016 and repealed in 2017 by H.J. Res 41 (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/07/27/2016-15676/disclosure-of-payments-by-resource-extraction-issuers). Despite all the action surrounding this rule, it actually is not salacious. The rule, which was recommended by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) “require[s] each resource extraction issuer to include in an annual report . . . information relating to any payment made by the resource extraction issuer, a subsidiary of the resource extraction issuer, or an entity under the control of the resource extraction issuer to a foreign government or the Federal Government for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, including—(i) the type and total amount of such payments made for each project of the resource extraction issuer relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals, and (ii) the type and total amount of such payments made to each government” (source: same as above).

One of the strongest critics of this rule was/has been, “the American Petroleum Institute — which represents Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other petroleum companies — [who] complained that the rule would impose an unfair burden on the U.S. oil industry, since foreign competitors would not face the same requirement” (http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Trump-Today-Another-big-win-for-oil-10932330.php) (keep reading because it turns out other nations found this rule inspiring and crafted their own versions of it). The fact that it is impossible for the U.S. to legislate what foreign owned companies do in foreign countries seems to have been missed in this critique. But then again, clear logic did not seem to be present in any of the criticism of this rule: “Congress voted earlier this month [February] to kill the rule and sent it on to Trump, saying the rule put American energy companies at a disadvantage by burdening them with additional costs that foreign competitors do not have to pay. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., the bill’s author, has called the regulation “cumbersome.” “The SEC’s rule requires disclosure for American companies but not foreign entities, fundamentally harming American workers and shareholders,” [said] American Petroleum Institute Director of Tax Policy Stephen Comstock” (http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/02/14/Trump-nixes-anti-corruption-regulation-for-US-energy-companies/2021487103685/).

In an interesting twist of fate, back when Mr. Rex Tillerson was CEO of Exxon he flew to Washington D.C. to personally lobby against this rule, yet now as Secretary of State he arguably should be supporting those who live in resource rich nations who see their assets lost to corruption…. ”The leader of the world’s most valuable company doesn’t typically fly to Washington to fight one obscure amendment to a 2,300-page bill, especially a motherhood-and-apple-pie-style amendment designed to prevent and expose corruption abroad. But back in 2010, ExxonMobil’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, was deeply worried about Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a bipartisan amendment that required drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments. So Tillerson and one of his lobbyists paid a half-hour visit to the amendment’s Republican co-author, then-Senator Richard Lugar, to try to get it killed.

Tillerson argued that forcing U.S. oil firms to reveal corporate secrets—such as paying foreign governments—would put them at a competitive disadvantage. He also explained that the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia, where, as he did not need to explain, the government takes a rather active interest in the oil industry. But Lugar believed greater transparency could help alleviate the “resource curse” of corruption that plagues so many mineral-rich countries, so he told Tillerson they would have to agree to disagree. Section 1504 stayed in the bill, the bill became law, and the disclosure requirement became an international example: France, Canada and the United Kingdom all went on to use it as a model for similar rules” (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/rex-tillerson-tried-to-get-this-rule-killed-now-congress-is-about-to-do-it-for-him-214725).

While one may disagree with the stance Mr. Tillerson took back in 2010 at least it is clear he knew what the rule was about, with Mr. Trump it seems less clear that he knows what the rule he repealed actually accomplished, since based on his comments at the signing ceremony he somehow thinks repealing this law will create jobs: “This is a big signing, a very important signing.  And this is H.J. Resolution 41, disapproving the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule on disclosure of payments by resource extraction issuers.  It’s a big deal…. And we’re bringing back jobs big league, we’re bringing them back at the plant level; we’ve [sic] bringing them back at the mine level.  The energy jobs are coming back” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/14/remarks-president-trump-signing-hj-resolution-41).

HJ Res 38 It is Okay for Coal Companies to Pollute Waterways

HJ Res 38 It is Okay for Coal Companies to Pollute Waterways

Because sometimes there simply are no better words in which to say it…

From the Huffington Post: “Trump signed legislation repealing the Stream Protection Rule [this is technically HJ Res 38 and the rule repealed is Federal Regulation 93066], an Obama – era regulation that sought to protect U.S. waterways from coal mining operations. The rule required coal mining companies to avoid practices ‘that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk and threaten forests.’ The regulation mandated the testing and monitoring of waterways before, during and after mining operations, and required companies that had used controversial practices like mountaintop removal mining to restore land to its ‘previous condition’ once mining is complete.

Environmentalists and public health advocates lambasted the rule’s repeal. ‘Limiting the toxic waste coal companies can dump in our rivers and streams is not a burdensome government regulation; it is common sense and, quite frankly, the job of our federal government,’ said Deborah Murray, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, in a statement” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-100-days-environment-earth-day_us_58f87b68e4b0cb086d7e3175)

From our President: “And this is our second bill signing this week as we continue to work for the American people.  This is H.J. Resolution 38, and that will eliminate another terrible job-killing rule, saving many thousands of American jobs, especially in the mines, which I’ve been promising you.  The mines are a big deal.  I’ve had support from some of you folks right from the very beginning, and I won’t forget it.  I went to West Virginia and I — we had 17,000, 18,000 people that couldn’t get into that big arena, right?  You were a few of them.  But that was some day and some night. … In eliminating this rule, I am continuing to keep my promise to the American people to get rid of wasteful regulations that do nothing — absolutely nothing — but slow down the economy, hamstring companies, push jobs to other countries — which is happening all over, although I must tell you, we’ve stopped it.  You’ve seen all the factories, all the plants that are moving back.  They’re going back to a lot of places.  So you know that, right, fellas?  They’re moving back fast.  Ford, General Motors, Fiat — so many.  Very happy….Compliance costs for this rule would be over $50 million a year for the coal industry alone, and it’s unnecessary.  I want to also thank the incredible coal miners who are with us today.  I think we can maybe thank them the most, right, for — political leaders.  (Applause.)  You folks have put up with a lot.  And you know, in other countries, they love their coal.  Over here, we haven’t treated it with the respect it deserves.  Even for defense, having that coal is a very important thing for us.  So I want to thank you all.

This rule we’re eliminating it’s a major threat to your jobs, and we’re going to get rid of that threat immediately.  We’re going to fight for you like I promised I would in the campaign.  And you were very good to me, and I’m going to be even better to you, I promise you that.

And we’re going to fight for, also, low-energy prices for all Americans.  There’s a spirit of optimism rising across the country.  It’s going to continue to grow as we sign more and more bills.  We’re going to make our nation more than competitive — not just competitive, we’re going to be more than competitive.  And we’re going to win at many, many industries.  We’re already starting back with the automobile industry.  We had the airline industry in the other day.  They have rules and regulations that by the time they get through it, it’s — nothing left, and they have to get rid of a lot of jobs.  We had a great meeting, actually…. We have a tremendous streak going on.  And that’s only because of the optimism.  They feel the optimism.  And that optimism is creating a lot of jobs” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/16/remarks-president-trump-signing-hj-resolution-38).

From Duncan Hunter: A yes vote

From Senators Harris and Feinstein: Two no votes

Rep. Hunter on Jeff Sessions’ recusal

Rep. Hunter on Jeff Sessions’ recusal

Below is an excerpt from a longer piece in the L.A. Times, titled “Some of California’s Republicans are in a tight spot. Russia and Jeff Sessions aren’t making that easier” written by Contact Reporters Phil Willon and Sarah D. Wire, which shares Rep. Hunter’s opinions on Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian Ambassador and Sessions’ lie while under oath:

“Republican Duncan Hunter of Alpine, who was rumored as a potential cabinet candidate and is also from a safe Republican district, took the strongest stance in defense of Sessions: He accused the Democrats of being on a political “witch hunt” against Trump and his administration, saying that Sessions, who was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee before he became attorney general, had every right to meet with the Russian ambassador.

Hunter suspects Sessions’ failure to disclose the meeting during his confirmation hearing was either an “unconscious mistake” or a misunderstanding. The attorney general likely interpreted the question to be about whether he met with the Russian ambassador on behalf of the Trump campaign, Hunter said.

“I don’t think he needs to recuse himself, but if he decides to just to calm everyone fears, that’s fine too,” Hunter said in a telephone interview” (http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-gop-russia-sessions-20170302-story.html).