Episodes

  • In this special announcement, Jen explains a temporary schedule change to the Congressional Dish community, designed to facilitate a renewed focus on increasing the quality of future episodes and the creation of the CD green room. Also, Jen shares an exciting announcement about an upcoming appearance on her favorite channel!

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    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD199:Surprise Medical Bills CD196: Mueller Report CD195: Yemen CD190:A Coup for Capitalism CD187: Combating China CD186: National Endowment for Democracy CD176:Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress CD167: Combating Russia(NDAA 2018) Live CD160: Equifax Breach CD155: FirstNet Empowers AT&T CD147: Controlling Puerto Rico CD131: Bombing Libya CD129: The Impeachment of John Koskinen CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico CD108: Regime Change CD105: Anthrax CD102: The World Trade Organization: Cool? CD098: USA Freedom Act: Privatization of the Patriot Act CD048: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) CD003: The Free Market vs. US

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  • The currently legal ability of obscenely rich people to bribe lawmakers and law enforcers is the source of many - if not all - of our political problems. In this episode, get an update on the few democracy-enhancing bills that have moved in this Congress and Jen speaks to Sam Fieldman - the National Counsel at Wolf-PAC - who explains how we can constitutionally end the role of money in politics by going around Congress.

    Joe Briney joins Jen for the thank you's.

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    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD129:The impeachment of John Koskinen CD192: H.R. 1 Outline Recommended Reading Article: Ensuring elections 'free from foreign intrusion' by John Sarbanes and Brian Frosh, Baltimore Sun, July 3, 2019 Article: Alexander-Murrary Bill, by Donald Shaw, ReadSludge.com, June 10, 2019. Article: Microsoft and Election Guard by Whitney Webb, MPN News, May 24, 2019. Document: Ballot-Marking Devices (BMDs) Cannot Assure the Will of the Voters SSRN, May 21, 2019 Article: DHS to Assess Risks Posed to Ballot-Marking Devices by Mark Niese, GovTech, May 2, 2019. Article: DHS, FBI say election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016 by Sean Gallagher, ARS Technica, April 10, 2019. Article: Amid Election Integrity Criticism, Georgia Governor Signs Bill to Replace Voting Machines by Greg Bluestein and Mark Niesse, Governing, April 5, 2019. Article: Firm’s close ties to Georgia stir concerns about voting system purchase by Mark Niesse, Atlanta Journal, January 30, 2019 Article: “Our best friend in this debate is the public,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Friday. by Ella Nilsen, Vox, January 04, 2019. Article: How the GOP is using the Help America Vote Act to block voting, by Thom Hartmann, Salon.com, November 23, 2018. Article: The Latest: Some Georgia Statewide Races Too Close to Call U.S. News, November 7, 2018. Article: VOTING MACHINES ARE STILL ABSURDLY VULNERABLE TO ATTACKS by Lily Hay Newman, Wired, September 28, 2018. Article: Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States by Kim Zetter, Vice News, July 17, 2018. Article: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ran—and Won—as a Movement Candidate, by DD Guttenplan, The Nation, June 27, 2018. Article: Voting machine vendor treated election officials to trips to Vegas, elsewhere by Greg Gordon, Amy Renee Leiker, Jamie Self and Stanley Dunlap, McClatchy DC Bureau, June 21, 2018. Document: LD-2 Lobbying Report Disclosure Form Secretary of the Senate Office of Public Records, 2018 Data: Lobbying Spending Data:Lobbyists representing Election Systems & Software, 2018 OpenSecrets.org, 2018. Article: The Fraud Behind Article V Convention Opposition by Sam Fieldman, Medium.com, October 12, 2017. Article: Some Machines Are Flipping Votes, But That Doesn't Mean They're Rigged by Pam Fessler, NPR, October 26, 2016. Document: 2012 REDMAP Summary Report Redistricting Majority Project, January 4, 2013. Document: Report on Proper Use of Campaign Funds and Resources Committee on Ethics, January 4, 2013. Document: Title 36 organizations Every CRSRReport.com, June 17, 2011.

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    Bill Outline H.R. 2722: SAFE Act

    Sponsor: Zoe Lofgren of northern California
    74 pages

    Passed the House on June 27, 2019 225-184

    Only GOP yes: Newbie Rep. Brian Mast - 38 year old wounded Afghanistan war veteran representing the Palm Beach area

    Went to the Committee on Rules and Administration in the Senate

    Title 1: Financial Support for Election Infrastructure

    Subtitle A: Voting System Security Improvement Grants

    Sec. 102: Paper ballot requirements

    “The voting system shall require the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voters’ vote that shall be marked and made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter’s vote is cast and counted, which shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device." “The voting system shall provide the voter with an opportunity to correct any error on the paper ballot…” Recounts: The paper ballot “shall constitute the official ballot and shall be preserved and used as the official ballot for purposes any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office in which the voting system is used.”

    Sec. 104: Durability and readability requirements for ballots

    Ballots must be on “durable” paper, which means it is capable of withstanding multiple recounts by hand without compromising the fundamental integrity of the ballots” and they must maintain readability for 22 months.

    Sec. 105: Recycled Paper

    Ballots must be printed on recycled paper starting on January 1, 2021.

    Sec. 107: These rules will apply “for any election for Federal office held in 2020 or any succeeding year.”

    Grandfathered equipment: Districts using machines that print paper ballots with the votes already tallied can use those machines until 2022, but they must offer every voter the opportunity to vote using a blank paper ballot, which are not allowed to be designated as provisional.

    Sec. 111:Grants for equipment changes

    Federal tax money will be given to states to replace their voting system, if needed. Grant amount: At least $1 per the average number of people who voted in the last two elections To use these grants, the states can only buy voting equipment from a vendor “owned and controlled by a citizen or permanent resident of the United States” The vendor must tell government officials if they get any part of their election infrastructure parts from outside the United States Authorizes (but doesn’t appropriate) $600 million for 2019 and $175 million for each even number election year through 2026

    Subtitle B:Risk-Limiting Audits

    Sec. 121: Risk-limited audits required for all elections for Federal office

    State election officials will make the rules for how these will be done

    Sec. 122: Federal government will pay for audits

    Authorizes “such sums as are necessary”

    Title II: Promoting Cybersecurity Through Improvements in Election Administration

    Sec. 201: Voting system cybersecurity requirements

    Vote counting machine rules

    Machines that count ballots must be built so that "it’s mechanically impossible for the device to add or change the vote selections on a printed or market ballot” The device must be “capable of exporting its data (including vote tally data sets and cast vote records) in a machine-readable, open data standards format” The device’s software’s source code, system build tools, and compilation parameters must be given to certain Federal and State regulators and “may be shared by any entity to whom it has been provided… with independent experts for cybersecurity analysis.” The devise must have technology that allows “election officials, cybersecurity researchers, and voters to verify that the software running on the device was built from a specific, untampered version of the code” that was provided to Federal and State regulators. Loophole for moles: The Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security can waive any of the requirements other than the first one that prohibits machines that can change votes. The waivers can be applied to a device for no more than two years. The waivers must be publicly available on the Internet. Not effective until November 2024 election.

    Ballot marking machines and vote counters can’t use or “be accessible by any wireless, power-line, or concealed communication device” or “connected to the Internet or any non-local computer system via telephone or other communication network at any time.”

    Effective for the 2020 general election and all elections after

    Ballot marking devices can’t be capable of counting votes

    States may submit applications to Federal regulators for testing and certification the accuracy of ballot marking machines, but they don’t have to.

    Sec. 202: Testing of existing voting systems

    9 months before each regularly scheduled general election for Federal offices, “accredited laboratories” will test the voting system hardware and software with was certified for use in the most recent election. If the hardware and software fails the test, it “shall” be decertified. Effective for the 2020 General Election.

    Sec. 203: Requiring use of software and hardware for which information is disclosed by manufacturer

    “In the operation of voting systems in an election for Federal office, a State may only use software for which the manufacturer makes the source code… publicly available online under a license that grants a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, sub-licensable license to all intellectual property rights in such source code…." …except that the manufacturer may prohibit people from using the software for commercial advantage or “private monetary compensation” that is unrelated to doing legitimate research. States “may not use a voting system in an election for Federal office unless the manufacture of the system publicly discloses online the identification of the hardware used to operate the system” If the voting system is not widely-used, the manufacture must make the design “publicly available online under a license that grants a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, sub-licensable license to all intellectual property rights…” Effective for the 2020 General election

    Sec. 204: Poll books will be counted as part of voting systems for these regulations

    Effective January 1, 2020

    Title III: Use of voting machines manufactured in the United States

    Sec. 301: Voting machines must be manufactured in the United States

    HR 391: White House Ethics Transparency Act of 2019

    Pdf of the bill

    Reported June 12, 2019 out of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform 23-16

    On January 28, 2017 - a week after taking office - President Trump issued an executive order that requires all executive agency appointees to sign and be contractually obligated to a pledge that…

    The appointee won’t lobby his/her former agency for 5 years after leaving Will not lobby the administration he/she previously worked for Will not, after leaving government, “engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which, were it undertaken on January 20, 2017, would require me to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938” Will not accept gifts from registered lobbyists Will recuse themselves from any matter involving their former employers for two years from the date of their appointment If the appointee was a lobbyist before entering government, that person will not work on any matter that they had lobbied for for 2 years after the appointment

    BUT Section 3 allows waivers: “The President or his designee may grant to any person a waiver of any restrictions contained in the pledge signed by such person.”

    Sec. 2: Requires any executive branch official who gets a waiver to submit a written copy to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and make a written copy of the waiver available to the public on the website of the agency where the appointee works.

    Backdated to January 20, 2017 (President Trump’s inauguration)

    H.R. 745: Executive Branch Comprehensive Ethics Enforcement Act of 2019

    Reported March 26, 2019 out of the Committee on Oversight and Reform 18-12

    Pdf of the bill

    Sec. 2: Creates a transition ethics program

    Requires the President-elect to give Congress a list of everyone in consideration for security clearance within 10 days of the applications submission and a list of everyone granted security clearance within 10 days of their approval. Requires the transition team to create and enforce an “ethics plan” that needs to describe the role of registered lobbyists on the transition team, the role of people registered as foreign agents, and which transition team members of sources of income which are not known by the public Transition team members must be prohibited by the ethics plan from working on matters where they have “personal financial conflicts of interest” during the transition and explain how they plan to address those conflicts of interest during the incoming administration. The transition team ethics plan must be publicly avail on the website of the General Services Administration Transition team members need to submit a list of all positions they have held outside the Federal Government for the previous 12 months -including paid and unpaid positions-, all sources of compensation that exceed $5,000 in the previous 12 months, and a list of policy issues worked on in their previous roles, a list of issues the team member will be recused from as part of the administration. Transition team members that do not comply will not be granted any access to the Federal department or agency that isn’t open to the public.

    S. 195 : Creates a transition ethics program: Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act

    Pdf of the bill

    Reported 4/10/19 out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On Senate Calendar

    Sec. 2: Definitions

    “Congressionally mandated report” means a report that is required to be submitted to Congress by a bill, resolution, or conference report that becomes law. Does NOT include reports required from 92 nonprofit corporations labeled as “Patriotic and National Organizations” (“Title 36 corporations”)

    Sec. 3: Website for reports

    1 year after enactment, there needs to be a website “that allows the public to obtain electronic copies of all congressionally mandated reports in one place” If a Federal agency fails to submit a report, the website will tell us the information that is required by law and the date when the report was supposed to be submitted The government can’t charge a fee for access to the reports The reports can be redacted by the Federal agencies Resources Twitter Link: Rachel Maddow Twitter Link Twitter. Employment Profile: Employment History for Richardson, Sean J OpenSecrets.org Employment Profile: Employment History for Jen Olson OpenSecrets.org Email Link: Sam Fieldman Email at Wolf-PAC PDF Email: Email with Eli Baumwell of the W.V. ACLU Volunteer Link: Volunteer for Wolf-PAC Resource Link: Article V Wolf-PAC Resource Link Documentary: Wolf Pac Documentary Congressional Dish Interview: Interview with Sam Fieldman from Wolf-PAC Preet Bharara Podcast: Taking Trump to Court (with David Cole) YouTube Video: Wolf PAC Call for Volunteers - Get Money Out of Politics! YouTube Video: Mike Monetta On Why Wolf-PAC Is Making A Movie YouTube Video: Wolf PAC Resolution Passes New Jersey Senate YouTube Video: Fight Against Money In Politics: Cenk Uygur (Wolf-PAC Presentation) YouTube Video: Republican Vermont Representative Vicky Strong YouTube Video: Americans for Prosperity testify in New Jersey YouTube Video: Hawaii Senate Judiciary Hearing on 2018 SCR 76, Wolf-PAC YouTube Video: Cenk Uygur's Speech at The Conference to Restore the Republic YouTube Video: Article V Debate Document: Case Docket: Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm'n Document: Brief by ACLU in support of Citizens United Document: Brief by former members of the ACLU in support of neither party Document: Essay on Term Limits Document: Article V of the US Constitution - Overview Document: Virginia Plan (First draft of the Constitution) Document: Full Text of Congressional Regulations on Article V Document: 1984 Version of Congressional Regulations on Article V Document: 1987 Version of Congressional Regulations on Article V Document: Congressional Record Archive Copy of Congressional Regulations on Article V Document: The Fix It America Constitutional Amendment Document: Take Back our Republic Document: Role of Congress Document: American Promise 28th Amendment Document: United for the People Amendments Reference Website: Massachusetts Commission Govtrack: H.R. 2722 Document: H.R. 391 Document: H.R. 745 Document: H.R. 745 Document: H.R. 964 Document: S. 195 Sound Clip Sources Watch on C-Span: House floor debate on HR 2722 June 27,2019 sound clip transcripts pdf Watch on C-Span: William Barr Testifies on Mueller Report Before Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 1:57:55 Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): For the last two years, Senator Lankford and I, on a bipartisan bill with support from the ranking and the head of the intelligence committee; have been trying to get the Secure Elections Act passed. This would require backup paper ballots. If anyone gets federal funding for an election, it would require audits, um, and it would require better cooperation. Yet the White House, just as we were on the verge of getting a markup in the rules committee (getting it to the floor where I think we would get the vast majority of senators), the White House made calls to stop this. Were you aware of that? Attorney General William Barr: No. Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): Okay, well that happened. So what I would like to know from you as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer if you will work with Senator Lankford and I to get this bill done? Because otherwise we are not going to have any clout to get backup paper ballots if something goes wrong in this election. Attorney General William Barr: Well, I will… I will work with you, uh, to, uh, enhance the security of our election and I’ll take a look at what you’re proposing. I’m not familiar with it. Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): Okay. Well, it is the bipartisan bill. It has Senator Burr and Senator Warner. It’s support from Senator Graham was on the bill. Senator Harris is on the bill and the leads are Senator Lankford and myself, and it had significant support in the house as well. Hearing: Committee on Oversight and Reform:Strengthening Ethics Rules for the Executive Branch, February 6, 2019 Watch on Youtube *28:00 Rep Jordan (OH): 2013 we learned that the IRS targeted conservative for their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle systematically for a sustained period of time. They went after people for their conservative beliefs, plan in place, targeted people. They did it. The gross abuse of power would have continued, if not for the efforts of this committee. 2014 the Obama Administration doubled down and attempted to use the IRS rule making process to gut the ability of social welfare organizations to participate in public debate. Congress has so far prevented this regulation from going into effect, but HR 1 would change that. Hearing: Judiciary Committee For The People Act Of 2019, January 29, 2019 Witness: Sherrilyn Ifill - President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Watch on YouTube 32:00 Sherrilyn Ifill: Well before the midterm election, in fact, Georgia officials began placing additional burdens on voters, particularly black and Latino voters, by closing precincts and purging. Over half a million people from the voter rolls the voter purge, which removed 107,000 people, simply because they did not vote in previous elections and respond to a mailing was overseen by the Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp, who was also the secretary of state. LDF and a chorus of others called on him to recuse himself from participating in the election. But he refused.

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    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

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  • Almost 40% of Americans WITH health insurance reported they had received a surprise medical bill in the past year from a doctor or hospital for a service they thought was covered by their insurance plan. Why is this happening? And what can we do about it?

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    Additional Reading Article: Went to the ER? You may be hit with a surprise medical bill by Tami Luhby, CNN, June 20, 2019. Press Release: House Supports Porter Amendment to Improve Affordable Care Act Enrollment by Representative Katie Porter, Porter House News, June 13, 2019. Article: Alexander-Murrary Bill, by Tammy Luhby, CNN, May 23, 2019. Bill: Bill S. 1531 Stopping The Outrageous Practice of Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2019 by Senator Bill Cassidy, Govtrack.us, May 16, 2019. Press Release: Trauma Coalition Press Release, by Trauma Association of America, May 16, 2019. Article: Trump calls for an end to surprise medical bills by Tami Luhby, CNN, May 9, 2019. Article: UnitedHealth's David Wichmann buys record $4.6 million worth of UNH stock by Alex Wittenberg, Biz Journals, May 7, 2019. Article: After Vox reporting, California moves forward on plan to end surprise ER bills by Sarah Kliff, Vox, April 24, 2019. Article: How to fight an outrageous medical bill, explained by Sarah Kliff, Vox, April 1, 2019 Bill: Bill S. 1266 Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills Act 116th Congress, March 1, 2019.

    Bill: Bill H.R. 861 End Surprise Billing Act of 2019 116th Congress, January 30, 2019.

    Article: A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills by Sarah Kliff, Vox, January 24, 2019.

    Article: After Vox story, Zuckerberg hospital rolls back by Sarah Kliff, Vox, January 24, 2019. Document: NBER Working Paper No. 23623 Surprise! Out-of-Network Billing for Emergency Care in the United States by Zach Cooper, Fiona Scott Morton and Nathan Shekita, NBER, January 2019 Article: LifePoint merges with RCCH, goes private by Ayla Ellison, Becker Hospital Review, November 16, 2018. Article: “It’s unacceptable”: Sen. Maggie Hassan explains her plan to end surprise ER bills by Sarah Kliff, Vox, October 29, 2018. Article: Gov. Rick Scott took responsibility? No, he took $300 million | Randy Schultz by Randy Schultz, Sun Sentinel News, October 2, 2018. Article: UnitedHealthcare issues warning to hospitals about out-of-network coverage for ER physicians by Susan Morse, Healthcare Finance News, September 25, 2018. Article: Three Ways Self-Insured Plans Can Leverage State Laws to Protect their Members from Balance Billing by Matthew Albright, The Self-Insurer, September 2018. Article: The Last Company You Would Expect Is Reinventing Health Benefits by Reed Abelson, NY Times, August 31, 2018. Article: As Health and Financial Challenges Grow, More Older Adults File for Bankruptcy by Lindsey Copeland, Medicare Rights Center, August 9, 2018. Article: A baby was treated with a nap and a bottle of formula. His parents received an $18,000 bill by Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News and Sarah Kliff, Vox, July 20, 2018. Article: Air Ambulances Are Flying More Patients Than Ever, and Leaving Massive Bills Behind by John Tozzi, Bloomberg News, June, 11 2018. Case Docket: Case Proceeding Air Medical Group, KKR North America, and AMR Holdco, In the Matter of Federal Trade Commission, May 3, 2018. Article: Are Physician Staffing Companies Killing the Patient Experience and Bottom Line? by Berta Bustamante, InsideArm, April 10, 2018. Press Release: Ambulance Companies Air Medical Group Holdings, Inc. and AMR Holdco, Inc. Agree to Divest Air Ambulance Services in Hawaii as a Condition of Merger Federal Trade Commission, March 7, 2018. Document: Letter to Christopher Holden-President and Executive Officer for Envision Healthcare US Senate, September 20, 2017 Bill: California Assembly Bill 72 by Ann Whitehead,JD,RN.,CAP Physicians, August 30, 2017. Report: AIR AMBULANCE Data Collection and Transparency Needed to Enhance DOT Oversight Government Accountability Office, July 2017. Article: The Company Behind Many Surprise Emergency Room Bills by Julie Creswell,Reed Abelson and Margot Sangor-Katz, NY Times, July 24, 2017. Article: AB 72: No More Balance Billing for Out-of-Network Care In-Network by Staff, Word&Brown, July 14, 2017. Report: Health Policy Report Up in the Air: Inadequate Regulation for Emergency Air Ambulance Transportation Consumer Reports, March 2017. Article: One In Five Inpatient Emergency Department Cases May Lead To Surprise Bills by Christopher Garmon and Benjamin Chartock, Health Affairs, January 2017. Article: Trauma fees growing across the nation at 'absurd' rate by Alexander Zayas and Kris Hunley, Tampa Bay Times, November 21, 2014. Article: 10 Things to Know About HCA Becker's Hospital Review, April 16, 2014. Article: HCA to Eliminate Trauma Fees for Uninsured Patients Becker's Hospital Review, April 10, 2014. Resources Profile Link: Connie Potter Profile, RN, BSN, MBA-HCA Link Linkedin. Profile Link: Sherif Zaafran Profile, MD, FASA Linkedin. Contact Us: Physicans for Fair Coverage End of the Insurance Gap.org About Us: Independence Company (IBX) IBX.com Document: License Agreement: Use of Current Procedural Terminology, Fourth Edition ("CPT®") Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 2013-2018 Contributor List: Sen. Rick Scott Election Contributor List Opensecrets.org Campaign Money Data Table: David Wichmann Political Campaign Contributions 2016 Election Cycle Campaign Money.com Online Review Score: Regence Health Plan Company Profile Review BestCompany.com False Claims Act: Nation’s Largest Healthcare Fraud Settlement Doesn’t Stop Medical Behemoth, WhistleBlowerJustice.net Visual Resources Sound Clip Sources Hearing: NO MORE SURPRISES: PROTECTING PATIENTS FROM SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS, Not on C-Span, Committee on Energy and Commerce, June 12, 2019. Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Sonji Wilkes: Patient Advocate Sherif Zaafran, MD: Chair of Physicians for Fair Coverage Rick Sherlock: President and CEO of Association of Air Medical Services James Gelfand: Senior Vice President of Health Policy at The ERISA Industry Committee Thomas Nickels: Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association Jeanette Thornton: Senior Vice President of Product, Employer, and Commercial Policy at Americas’ Health Insurance Plans Claire McAndrew: Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Families USA Vidor E. Friedman, MD: President of American College of Emergency Physicians Transcript

    47:54 CEO Rick Sherlock: Emergency air medical services are highly effective medical interventions appropriate in cases where getting a patient directly to the closest most appropriate medical facility can make a significant difference in their survival in recovery. Today, because of air medical services, 90% of Americans can reach a level one or level two trauma center within an hour. However, since 2010, 90 hospitals have closed in rural areas and an estimated 20% more are at risk of closing. Our members fill the gap created by closures, but this lifeline is fraying as 31 air medical bases have also closed in 2019.

    48:31 CEO Rick Sherlock: Emergency or medical providers never make the decision on who to transport. That decision is always made by a requesting physician or medically trained first responder. Air medical crews then respond within minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week without any knowledge of a patient’s ability to pay for their services.

    48:45 CEO Rick Sherlock: Our members are unique in the healthcare system. The services heavily regulated by the states for the purposes of healthcare, as ambulances and the federal government for aviation safety and services as air carriers. It is their status as air carriers that allow rapid transport of patients over significant distances. Over 33% of our flights cross state lines every day. For that reason, the Airline Deregulation act uniform authority over the national airspace is essential to the provision of this lifesaving service. Exempting air medical services from the ADA would allow states to regulate aviation services, including where and when they’re able to fly, limiting access to healthcare for patients in crisis.

    49:54 CEO Rick Sherlock: To prevent balance billing, our members are actively negotiating with insurance companies to secure in-network agreements. One member alone has increased their participation from 5% to almost 43% in the last three years. Despite that, some insurers have refused to discuss in-network agreements. That hurts both patients and caregivers.

    50:30 CEO Rick Sherlock: Uh, covering air medical services in full, represents about a $1.70 of the average monthly premium.

    51:50 CEO Rick Sherlock: $10,199 was the median cost of providing a helicopter transport. While Medicare paid $5,998, Medicaid paid $3,463 and the uninsured paid $354. This results in an ongoing imbalance between actual costs and government reimbursement and is the single biggest factor in increasing costs.

    53:45 Senior VP James Gelfand: We’re focused on three scenarios in which patients end up with big bills they couldn’t see coming or avoid. Number one, a patient receives care at an in-network facility, but is treated by an out of network provider. Number two, a patient requires emergency care, but the provider’s facility or transportation are out of network. And number three, a patient is transferred or handed off without sufficient information or alternatives. It’s usually not the providers you’re planning to see. It’s anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists, or emergency providers or transport or an unexpected trip to the NICU. Many work for outsourced medical staffing firms that have adopted a scam strategy of staying out of networks, practicing at in-network facilities and surprise billing patients. It’s deeply concerning, but the problem is narrowly defined and therefore we can fix it.

    54:40 Senior VP James Gelfand: The No Surprises Act nails it. It takes patients out of the middle and creates a market based benchmark rate to pay providers fairly. The benchmark is not developed by government and it is not price setting. The committee might also consider network matching. It’s simple. If a provider practices at an in-network facility, they take the in-network rate or they go work somewhere else. Or base the benchmark on Medicare, you could set the rate higher, say 125% of Medicare and still make the system more affordable, sustainable and simpler. These approaches will eliminate the surprise bills. That’s a huge win for patients.

    54:50 ** Senior VP James Gelfand: But not everyone wants to stop the surprise bills. Some provider specialties are saying, “let us keep doing what we’re doing, just use binding arbitration to make someone else pay these bills”. They’re asking for a non- transparent process that could force plans and employers to pay massive and fake medical list prices. It’s essentially setting money on fire. Funds that would have been used to pay for healthcare will instead be spent on administrative costs such as lawyers, arbitrators, facility fees, and on reasonable settlement amounts. Make no mistake, patients will pay these costs.

    55:20 Senior VP James Gelfand: The ground and air ambulance companies are asking Congress to let them keep surprise billing too. Do nothing, wait for another study, another report, and there have already been four. They know patients cannot shop for them and many participate in no networks. State insurance commissioners are begging for help with air ambulances, but Congress has tied their hands. Employers think Congress should end this. Treat medical transport the same as emergency care. We should end surprise billing in the ER and on the way there.

    56:30 Senior VP James Gelfand: Other providers figure they’re willing to stop surprise billing, but only if they can increase in-network rates. They’re calling for network adequacy rules to force insurers and employers to add more providers to their networks, even if those providers demand astronomical payments. Does anyone here actually believe that these hospital based doctors who services cannot be shopped for, who are guaranteed to see our patients, are begging to be included in our networks, but nobody will return their calls? That they have no choice but to go and join these out of network Wall Street owned firms? It doesn’t make sense.

    57:00 Senior VP James Gelfand: Employers design health benefits to help our beneficiaries. We don’t sell insurance. We want networks that meet our patients’ needs. Why would we want to cover an operation, but leave out the anesthesia? We want our employees to be able to afford their health insurance too, and that means we must be able to say no when providers are gaming the system.

    1:08:10 Dr. Vidor Friedman: Unlike most physicians, emergency physicians are prohibited by federal law from discussing with a patient any potential costs of care or insurance details until they are screened and stabilized. This important patient protection known as Emtala, ensures physicians focus on the immediate medical needs of patients. However, it also means that patients cannot fully understand the potential cost of their care or the limitations of their insurance coverage until they receive the bill.

    1:10:40 Dr. Vidor Friedman: The goal should be a system in which everyone is in-network, or essentially that. That requires a level playing field between providers and insurers. Insurers are concerned that benchmarking the even median charges, favors providers. Providers are concerned that benchmarking the median in-network rates, favors insurer’s. What’s Congress to do? ACEP supports a system that has already proven to be balanced between insurers and providers. That is a baseball style independent dispute resolution process similar to that used in New York and noted in the legislative proposal put forth by Doctors, Ruiz Rowe and Busan.

    2:02:30 Rep. Brett Guthrie: If there does become a federal arbitration system, what do you think congressional oversight should be? And I don’t know if that should be something that I’m supposed to talk about or…Sonji Wilkes: Well, I’ve been sitting here listening, thinking I pay my insurance premiums, I do my part and I expect the bill to be paid. I mean, there’s only so much I can do to control that and I don’t really care how the reimbursement works. And quite frankly, I think the insurance industry is doing probably better in their bottom line than my bottom line. Um, I want to go to the best provider possible and I want the best care possible. I don’t really care how the payment works.

    2:34:50 Dr. Sherif Zaafran: Well, I can tell you that from the physician’s standpoint, for emergency room physicians for example; the average weighted cost of every visit is about $155.

    3:49:00 CEO Rick Sherlock: The median cost of a helicopter air transport is $10,199 according to a study conducted in 2017. If you look at the cost of uncompensated care, because Medicare pays less than $.60 on the dollar of that 10,199. About $5,998, Medicaid pays significantly less than that. Less than $3,500 on average, and the uninsured pay about $350. Those make up…those three groups make up 70% of air medical transports. So when you take that cost of uncompensated care and you add it to the median cost of $10,200, that’s the average charge of $36,000 that the representative from New Mexico referenced earlier. When you…when those kinds of situations happen, no one in our industry wants to see a patient or their family placed in jeopardy because they’ve just had a health emergency. Our members will sit down with each individual and their families and work out a solution tailored for them.

    3:54:30 Dr. Sherif Zaafran: Again, there is no such thing as an out of network provider. There is a provider who may happen to be out of network with that specific product. So the only one who knows what the product is, is of course the patient and the insurance carrier and they’re the only ones who really have the information as to whether they’re in-network or out of network.

    Hearing: The Need to Reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, June 11, 2019 Hearing: Hearing on September 11 Victims Compensation Fund, June 11, 2019 Hearing: Watch on CSPAN-Surprise Medical Bills House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health-May 21, 2019 Committee website Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Rep. Katie Porter (CA) James Patrick Gelfand: Senior Vice President, Health Policy, ERISA Industry Committee Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: Board of Trustees, American Medical Association Tom Nickels: Executive Vice President, Government Relations and Public Policy, American Hospital Association Jeannette Thornton: Senior Vice President for Product, Employer, and Commercial Policy at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Transcript

    *7:15 Chairman Lloyd Doggett (TX): Fortunately, there now appears to be a growing consensus. Most recently joined by president Trump that holding the patient harmless should form the foundation for any surprise billing proposal. Under the legislation that I advanced, patients would only be charged in network cost sharing rates in emergency situations and non-emergency situations out of network charges would be permitted only when the patient has agreed in advance after receiving effective notice regarding any providers and services together with estimated charges. No other bill addressing this issue has yet been filed here in the house, but there is a very useful discussion draft proposal that is being circulated on a bipartisan basis by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and there’s several proposals that have service in the Senate. While every proposal currently begins with the basic premise of the enterprise billing act, conflict remains over how to resolve insurer provider disputes.

    *13:40 Rep. Katie Porter (CA): I’m concerned about surprise billing, as someone who’s dedicated my life to protecting consumers, but also because I have had to fight my own battle with surprise billing. On August 3rd last year when I was on the campaign trail, I started to feel pain in my abdomen. At 1:00 PM I could not continue and I went home. At 4:31, I texted my campaign manager that I needed to go to the emergency room. I couldn’t safely drive through the pain and I remember sitting on my front porch, so if I lost consciousness, somebody might find me and I wouldn’t be home alone. I didn’t call an ambulance because I was concerned about the cost. I could not drive and I asked my manager to please take me to Hoag hospital. I chose that hospital even though it was farther away from other providers, because I knew Hoag was an in-network facility. When I got to the hospital, I waited six hours alone in the emergency exam room without treatment. When I finally went to surgery, my doctor told me it was nothing to worry about, just a routine appendectomy. I was given anesthesia and when I awoke, the team around me was panicking. They couldn’t get my temperature to drop and they couldn’t get my blood pressure to rise. My appendix had ruptured hours before causing an infection that was making my whole body very sick. I spent the next five days in the hospital receiving powerful IV antibiotics. A few weeks later, I received the bill from my insurance company. The idea of an astronomical hospital bill had weighed heavily on me and I was happy to see that the cost of my emergency room treatment and assessment and hospital charges, and nearly all of my inpatient services, were covered. I remember sitting at my kitchen table and taking a deep breath filled with relief, but a few days later I received another bill. This one from my surgeon. While the hospital I had gone to was in-network, the insurance company now claimed the surgeon was not, even though they had sent me a notification telling me that my surgeon was in-network . Enclosed in that bill for nearly $3,000, was a handout from my surgeon detailing the steps I would have to take while recovering in order to fight to have my insurance company cover the care. So many of his patients had been put in this situation, that this medical doctor had used his staff to address patient billing problems. That’s not what he trained for in medical school. Your so-called explanation of benefits and the surgeon’s handout explained that he was being treated as an out of network provider even though he was employed by and worked at an in-network hospital. As someone in an emergency situation, I had no ability to assess whether he was in or out of network, and in those cases insurers are supposed to cover the costs, but I got that bill because my insurer put profits before patients. I called insurance company to request an appeal. The benefits manager kept asking me questions to guide me and coach me towards saying that it was my surgeon’s fault to blame him for overcharging me. She asked me to call the surgeon and attack my doctor for his bill. Apparently, to Anthem Blue Cross, $3,000 was too high a price for saving my life. The tens of thousands in premiums I’d paid to that company over the years were not enough to have them, cause them to cover the lifesaving care. Nearly five months after I was hospitalized, the surgeon simply requested payment, and at that point I reached out to my employer of the University of California Irvine. That’s when I learned that U.C. Irvine has a designated patient advocate, a medical doctor, whose sole job is to help university employees get the health insurance that the university and the employees pay for. Can we just reflect on that for a moment? The university is paying a medical doctor to do nothing but navigate insurance. Finally, the patient advocate, invoking the fact that I had just been just elected to Congress, was able to get the insurance company to agree to pay my surgeon’s bill. But here’s what I learned from getting sick. I am well educated. I had an employer prepared to help me. I have professional experience fighting for consumer rights, but there are thousands of Americans with fewer resources than me who are surprised with bills far more devastating than mine. I’m here today because they refuse to accept this as the status quo. I refuse to stand idly by while families go bankrupt because of surprise medical bills. Any solution to this issue must rely, must not rely, excuse me, on the patient’s ability to go to war with the insurer or with their provider. That is not the solution. It’s time we start putting patients first.

    31:00 Jeanette Thornton: We ask that federal legislation focus on four things. First, balanced billing should be banned in situations where inpatients are involuntarily treated by an out of network provider. This includes emergency health services at any hospital, any health healthcare services or treatment performed at an in-network facility by an out of network provider, not selected by the patient and ambulance transportation in an emergency. Second, health insurance providers should be required to reimburse out of network providers inappropriate and reasonable amount in those above scenarios. Third, state should be required to establish an independent dispute resolution process that works in tandem with the established benchmark. Fourth hospitals or other healthcare providers should be required to provide advanced notice to patients of the network status of the treating providers. We appreciate the health sub-committee chairman Lloyd Doggett has introduced legislation to end surprise billing act or HR 861, which would establish a role for hospitals in providing such notices, along with banning balanced billing. AHIP supports this bill.

    46:00 Chairman Lloyd Doggett (TX): What I’m referring to is the difference… Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: Right. Chairman Lloyd Doggett (TX): …in charges and why one one price for those who are in network and another for those that are out. Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: Right. So there is a benefit for me to be in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for example. I get something from that. They sit with me, they show me their data. We had…we worked together on incentive programs to sort of curb costs. If there’s an insurance company that’s in town that does none of that activity to improve the care of the population in my town, but yet wants to benefit from the same rate of compensation to me, they’re doing nothing to earn that discount. Blue Cross sits across from me on a weekly or monthly basis to improve the care of my population. But Golden Rule insurance, that’s new in town for example, doesn’t do any of that work and yet wants to benefit from having the same provider rates. No, I mean, I take a discounted rate from Blue Cross because of all this other robust activity. But if you’re not offering me anything to participate in your network, then naturally, you should be expected to pay more for my services. Right? I get something from Blue Cross. I get nothing from Golden Rule.

    53:05 Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: Medicare is usually sort of the foundation upon which all the other insurance companies tend to set their rates. So when I participate in network, like with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, it’s usually about 110/ 115% of Medicare rates. So that’s one step higher. If I don’t participate with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, then that rate is so I can get the assigned rate from them and then I have a choice about what to do with the balance. And usually in my practice, I write that off. I don’t balance bill the patient. Uh, but Blue Cross Blue Shield sort of sets their rate and that’s it. My point is that, if-in Blue Cross Blue Shield, I have a great relationship with, we do a lot of constructive work together. But if a new insurance company comes into town and puts up billboards and markets their product and says, here, come, come buy our policy, and then they get 15,000 patients to sign up, but has never come to my door to say, you know, when they have an ear, nose and throat problem, we’d like you to be in-network and provide their care. Why should they get the benefit of the in-network price that Blue Cross Blue Shield gets? So, my point, is that that out of network price for this new insurance company that wants me to take care of their patient, but never came to sit down with me to sign a contract, ought to be something that I negotiate with them, not something that’s dictated to me.

    55:50 Rep. Mike Thompson (CA): A staff person of mine went to the emergency room. He has insurance. His insurance covered nearly everything, including a cat scan. But a few weeks later, he got two separate bills from physicians he never saw and didn’t ask to see. They reviewed some of his test results and the bill for those two physicians was larger than the bill for his total ER visit.

    56:15 Rep. Mike Thompson (CA): It’s also alarming that, uh, according to one study, 20% of hospital visits, one of every five of those visits, uh, that began in the ER, resulted in a surprise bill.

    58:30 Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: Uh, yes, sir. So, in answer to your question, there are multiple already cases documented of insurance companies shrinking their network in California because they can get the same service at that rate with physicians that are out of their network. And so, contracts are already not being renewed for physicians that have had contracts for 20 years, and then they go to renew it and they’re dropped from the network.

    1:03:00 Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: My wife and I, we contract with probably about 30 insurance companies. When I take a kid’s tonsils out, one insurance company may be $200- may pay me $200, one pays me about $450 and everything in between. I can’t have a different fee in my fee schedule for each of those. So my fee for tonsillectomy is about $475, so that when I do it, I know that the highest paying payer, I’m still-they’re still within that threshold, right? Because if I charge $400, they’re not going to send me $450. They’re going to send me $400.

    1:07:00 Jeanette Thornton: So it’s very interesting what we’ve seen and when it comes from a hospital perspective. It’s maybe only 15% of the hospitals nationwide that are causing this issue that results in, you know, 80% of the visits. One of the statistics had cited a lot that result in a surprise medical bill. So this is not every doctor. This is not every hospital that are resulting in these surprise medical bills. It’s really more of a targeted problem.

    1:09:15 Tom Nickels: In terms of how much of this is really going on, I think there is a certain level of frustration. I don’t know that we all know with certainty. The only federal study that I’ve seen, that we’ve seen, is from the Federal Trade Commission, which basically said that they studied ambulances going to hospital emergency departments. 99% of hospital emergency departments in that study were in-network. So it’s not the hospital itself that is out of network. it is people, physicians who practice in our institution.

    1:22:20 Tom Nickels: The federal government-state government need to acknowledge that they underpay. I mean, Medpack and others acknowledges that this isn’t just industries talking about ourselves. AMA has said the same thing on the physician side, but I think that the federal government and state governments have a responsibility to pay more adequately. The truth of the matter is, and we haven’t even talked about this, is the cost shift is that private insurers pay more than costs and the government pays less. That should end. The government should take responsibility.

    1:38:00 Tom Nickels: We cannot force by law, physicians who are not employed by us to take in-network rates. That is-if we did that, um, we would be sued. It would be restraint of trade. Um, however, what we’re trying to suggest here and I think what the other panelists are trying to suggest, is we have a way to protect the patient from that surprise bill. To your question about who are these physicians that you don’t even know about who are treating you, if you come in in an emergency, you don’t know what’s going on. And you need to be taking care of it, who’s ever there is going to take care of you. The other situation which we’ve talked about is when you knowingly come into an inpatient in-network facility. You did all the right things, but an out of network physician, (anesthesiologists, perhaps radiologists, pathologists) takes care of you. And that’s where the, uh, the bill is generated from. So we cannot make people do that. We try to get physicians to be in our networks-in the same networks. But again, this is an issue of private contracting.

    1:42:05 Rep. Mike Kelly (PA): I do agree with you. If there’s limited talent there to take care of that specific problem, there has to be a way of compensating for it. Because at the end of the day, it is a business. Dr. Bobby Mukkamala: Right. So the solution is if an insurance company is going to come into Flint, Michigan and sell insurance, they know that eventually they’re going to need a hand surgeon, right? How do they sell insurance to a town that’s an industrial based town, where there’s a lot of hand injuries and not have any hand surgeons in their network? When they put up the billboard saying, “we’re selling insurance here”, they should have at the same time look at their provider list and say, “you know what”?, we’re missing an orthopedic hand surgeon. "Let’s go find one and figure out how to get him in-network or get her in-network. Right? And that’s a step that’s skipped routinely, right? They’ll sell the product for years and then fill in this way with lack of a good provider network by trying to negotiate out of network rates that are the same as in-network because they’d skip that first step, right? Maintain a network adequacy-establish a network adequacy before you sell your product.

    1:48:30 James Gelfand: Many of the hospitals are not doing what Zuckerberg hospital was doing. The hospital will be in-network, but they will have outsourced their emergency room to a Wall Street owned private company and that company won’t take insurance. And those guys are definitely making enough profits that Wall Street is suggesting that people should invest in those companies because of these relationships they have with the in-network hospitals and the out of network emergency rooms.

    Trump remarks on medical billing-Watch on C-SPAN, May 9, 2019 13:00 President Donald Trump: Today I’m announcing principles that should guide Congress in developing bipartisan legislation to end surprise medical billing. And these senators and congressmen and women that are with us today are really leading the charge. And I appreciate that they’re all here. Thank you all. Thank you all for being here. This is fantastic. And I think it’s going to be a successful charge. From what I understand, we have bipartisan support, which is rather shocking. That means it’s very important. That means it’s very good. But that’s great. First, in emergency care situations, patients should never have to bear the burden of out-of-network costs they didn’t agree to pay. So-called balance billing should be prohibited for emergency care. Pretty simple. Second, when patients receive scheduled, non-emergency care, they should be given a clear and honest bill upfront. That means they must be given prices for all services and out-of-pocket payments for which they will be responsible. This will not just protect Americans from surprise charges; it will empower them to choose the best option at the lowest possible price. Third, patients should not receive surprise bills from out-of-network providers that they did not choose themselves. Very unfair. Fourth, legislation should protect patients without increasing federal healthcare expenditures. Additionally, any legislation should lead to greater competition, more choice — very important — and more healthcare freedom. We want patients to be in charge and in total control. And finally, in an effort to address surprise billing, what we do is, all kinds of health insurance — large groups, small group, individual markets, everything. We want everything included. No one in America should be bankrupted and unexpectedly by healthcare costs that are absolutely out of control. No family should be blindsided by outrageous medical bills. And we’ve gone a long way to stop that. Examining Surprise Billing: Protecting Patients from Financial Pain-Not on C-SPAN, House Committee on Education and Labor, April 2, 2019 Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Christen Linke Young: Fellow at USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy Ilyse Schuman: Senior Vice President for Health Policy at American Benefits Council Frederick Isasi, Executive Director at Families USA Professor Jack Hoadley: Research Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute Transcript

    7:15 Chairman Frederica Wilson (FL): This is the first hearing the United States Congress has held on surprise billing.

    7:30 Chairman Frederica Wilson (FL): Surprise medical bills occur when patients covered by health insurance are subject to higher than expected out of pocket costs for care, received from a provider who is outside of their plan’s network. The victims of surprised medical billing often have no control over whether they’re medical provider is in or out of network.

    8:15 Chairman Frederica Wilson (FL): A young San Francisco woman named Nina Dang suffered a severe bike accident. She was barely lucid when a bystander called an ambulance and took her to an emergency room at a nearby hospital. Before she knew it, doctors had done x-rays and scans and put her broken arm in a splint and then sent her on her way. A few months later, Nina was hit with a $20,000 medical bill because the hospital, which she did not choose, was an out of network facility.

    8:30 Chairman Frederica Wilson (FL): But even patients who are able to take precautions to avoid out of network costs during a medical emergency, are not immune from surprise bills. Scott Cohan suffered a violent attack one night in Austin, Texas. He woke up in an emergency room with a broken jaw, a throbbing headache, and staples in his head. Despite his shock and immense pain, Scott took out his phone and searched through his insurer’s website to make sure he was laying in an in-network hospital bed. When he found out it was, he proceeded with unnecessary jaw surgery. Imagine Scott’s frustration and devastation when he received a surprise medical bill for nearly $8,000. It turned out that the emergency room was in his insurance network, but the oral surgeon who worked in the ER was not.

    16:00 Rep. Tim Walberg (MI): 39% of insured working age adults reported they had received a surprise medical bill in the past year from a doctor, hospital, or lab that they thought was covered by their insurance. Of the 39% of individuals who received surprise medical bills, 50% owed more than $500.

    27:05 Ilyse Schuman: While a number of states have sought to address this problem or risk that exempts self insured plans from State Insurance Regulations to ensure that national employers can offer uniform health benefits to employees residing in different states. Accordingly, the problem of surprise billing cannot be left to the states to solve.

    33:20 Frederick Isasi: So what’s most important to remember about this issue? We are talking about situations in which families, despite enrolling in health insurance, paying their premiums, doing their homework and trying to work within the system, are being left with completely unanticipated and sometimes financially devastating healthcare bills. And this is happening in part, and I want to say this really clearly because hospitals, doctors and insurers are washing their hands of their patient’s interest.

    33:50 Frederick Isasi: Take for example, one significant driver of this problem. The movement of hospitals to offload sapping requirements for their emergency departments to third party management companies. These hospitals very often make no requirements of these companies to ensure the staffing of the ED fit within the insurance networks that the hospitals have agreed to. As a result, a patient who does their homework ahead of time and rightly thinks they’re going to an in network hospital, received services from an out of network physician and a surprise medical bill follows.

    34:20 Frederick Isasi: Let me give you one real world example. Nicole Briggs from Morrison, Colorado outside of Denver. Nicole woke up in the middle of the night with intense stomach pain. She went to a freestanding ER. She was told she needed an emergency appendectomy. She went to a local hospital. She did her due diligence. Confirmed repeatedly that the hospital and its providers were in network. However, months later she received a surprise bill from the surgeon who ended up, was out of network. The bill to Nicole was $5,000. Nicole tried to work it out with her insurance company, but within two years, a collection agency representing the surgeon took her to court and won the full amount, including interest. As a result, a lien was placed on her home and the collection agency garnished her wages each month. This came right before Nicole was about to deliver a baby and go on maternity leave. And by the way, this investigation found that there were over 170 liens placed on people’s homes in the Denver area by emergency department physicians.

    38:05 Professor Jack Hoadley: Our research shows that today, 25 states have acted to protect consumers from surprise bills in at least some circumstances. Nine of these 25 meet our standards as offering what we consider to be comprehensive protection. For protections to be comprehensive, we look to number one, whether they apply in both emergency situations and an in-network hospital setting, such as electing an in-network surgeon, but being treated by another clinician who’s out of network. Second, that these laws apply to both HMO’s, PPO’s and all other types of insurance. Third, that the law does address both insurers by requiring them to hold consumer’s harmless from balanced bills and providers by barring them from sending balanced bills. And fourth, that the laws adopt some kind of a payment standard. Uh, either a rule to determine payment from insurance provider or an arbitration process to resolve payment disputes. Although these four conditions don’t guarantee complete protection for consumers, they combine to protect consumers in most emergency and network hospital settings that the states can address. But as you’ve already heard, state protections are limited by federal law, ERISA, which exempt states from state regulation’s, self insured, employer sponsored plans.

    43:30 Chairman Frederica Wilson (FL): Under current law, who is responsible for making sure that a doctor or a hospital is in-network? Is it the doctor, the insurance company or the patient themselves? Frederick Isasi: Uh, chairman Wilson, thank you for the question. To be very clear, it is the patient themselves that has a responsibility and these negotiations are very complex. These are some of the most important and intense negotiations in the healthcare sector between a payer and a provider. There is absolutely no visibility for a consumer to understand what’s going on there. And so the notion that a consumer would walk into an emergency department and know, for example, that their doctor was out of network because that hospital could not reach agreement on an in-network provider for the ED is absurd, right? There’s no way they would ever know that. And similarly, if you walk in and you received surgery and it turns out your anesthesiologist isn’t in-network, there’s no way for the consumer to know that. Um, and I would like to say there’s some discussion about transparency and creating, you know, sort of provider directories. We’ve tried to do that in many instances. And what we know is that right now the healthcare sector has no real way to provide real actual insight to consumers about who’s in-network, and who’s out of network. I would-probably everybody in this room has tried at some point to figure out if a doctor’s in-network and out of network and as we know that system doesn’t work. So this idea that consumers can do research and find out what’s happened behind the scenes in these very intensive negotiations is absurd and it doesn’t work.

    46:30 Professor Jack Hoadley: Provider directories can be notoriously inaccurate. One of the things that, even if they are accurate, that I’ve seen in my own family is you may be enrolled in Blue Cross-You ask your physician, "are they participating in Blue Cross? They say “yes”, but it turns out Blue Cross has a variety of different networks. This would be true of any insurance company, and so you know, you may be in this one particular flavor of the Blue Cross plan and your provider may not participate in that particular network.

    47:30 Christen Linke Young: Notice isn’t enough here. Even if a consumer had perfect information, which is not a reasonable expectation, but even if they did have perfect information, they can’t do anything with that information. They can’t go across town to get their anesthesia and then come back to the hospital. Um, their-even with perfect information, they may be treated by out of network providers. And so we need to set a standard that limits how much providers can be paid in these out of network scenarios that makes it sort of less attractive for providers to remain out of network. And so instead, they are subject to more normal market conditions.

    1:01:25 Rep. Phil Roe (TN): I’ve had my name in networks that I wasn’t in. That you-that you use, and many of those unscrupulous networks, will use that too to get people to sign up because this doctor, my doctor is in there when you’re really not.

    1:10:25 Frederick Isasi: Um, there is a concept here, which is, what does in network mean, right? When you sit down with your husband or your partner and decide what kind of insurance do we want for our kids, right? We want to make sure that they can go to the ED if they’re playing soccer, they get hurt, all those sorts of things. The question is when you make that decision and you say, "Oh, look, this hospital is in-network, right? But what does that mean? If you can go to that hospital and all the services they’re providing are out of network, right? And I think as you’ve said, and as we’ve heard from other folks, the patient is not the person who should be responsible for that. It’s the folks who are negotiating. It’s the hospital, it’s the doc’s and the payers that should bear that responsibility. So let’s start by clarifying what does in-network mean, so that we have some way of making educated decisions about the insurance that we’re purchasing and putting our trust in.

    1:29:30 Professor Jack Hoadley: There may be instances where consumers get bills sent to them, aren’t aware that they don’t need to pay them, so don’t start the process. And that goes to this sort of point of how do you really make sure it’s not the consumer’s responsibility to figure out that, oh, I don’t, by law, I don’t actually have to pay this bill. Now what do I do to make sure that happens? If you don’t know that, uh, that doesn’t really help you. And so what some other states like California has done, is to include a provision that says the provider really can’t send a bill and if they do end up sending a bill and the consumer pays it, there’s an obligation on that provider to refund the amount that was paid back to the consumer. And that’s something we haven’t seen in some of the other states.

    1:39:15 Rep. Joe Courtney (CT): ERISA really has to be dealt with if we’re going to really have a comprehensive solution for America’s patients. Is that correct? Ilyse Schuman: That’s exactly right. Um, for the self funded plan too 60% of employer based plans that are not subject to these state laws, like in Connecticut or other states, we have to have a federal solution that addresses ERISA, so that we deal with this problem in a uniform nationwide way.

    Documentary: This is a clip from the documentary: 911, Toxic Legacy which aired on Canadian CBC 9/10.2006, September 10, 2006 Community Suggestions

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    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is being rationed due to a lack of funding and an approaching end date for the program. In this episode, learn about the shocking, growing number of 9/11 victims, understand why these victims are in danger of having to bear the financial consequences of their injuries on their own, and examine the details and status of H.R. 1327, the bill that would solve this problem for good. Jamie Kilstein joins Jen for the thank you's.

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    Additional Reading

    Article: Schumer calls for Senate vote on 9/11 victim fund by Jordain Carney, The Hill, June 12, 2019. Bill: House Bill 1327 Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act by 116th Congress, June 12, 2019. Article: After emotional testimony from 9/11 responders, House panel votes to replenish victims fund by Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, June 12, 2019. Bill: House Bill 1327 extend authorization for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 through fiscal year 2090, and for other purposes. by 116th Congress, February 25, 2019. Document: Federal Register Docket: 911 Victim Compensation Fund: Compensation of Claims by Department of Justice, October 3, 2018. Article: Former EPA head admits she was wrong to tell New Yorkers post-9/11 air was safe by Joanna Walters, The Guardian, September 10, 2016. Bill: House Bill 1786 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, 114th Congress, Congress.gov, June 11, 2015. Bill: House Bill 2029 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 by 114th Congress, Congress.gov, April 24, 2015. YouTube Video: 911 Airport Hijackers by Mcdlover4, March 23, 2012. Article: EPA Regulators Say They've Learned From 9/11 Blunders, but Critics Remain Unconvinced by Jeremy P. Jacobs, New York Times, September 9, 2011. Article: Ex-EPA Chief Is Ruled Not Liable for 9/11 Safety Claims by Robin Shulman, Washington Post, April 23, 2008. Document: EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Collapse by Office of Inspector General, August 21, 2003. Bill: House Bill 2926 Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act by 107th Congress, Congress.gov, September 21, 2001. Sound Clip Sources Hearing: The Need to Reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, June 11, 2019

    Watch on C-SPAN

    Witnesses: Rupa Bhattacharyya: Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Department of Justice Dr. Jaqueline Moline M.D.: Chair of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Lila Nordstrom: 9/11 Survivor Anesa Maria St. Rose Henry: Widow of Candidus Henry, Construction Worker and 9/11 Responder Thomas Mohnal: Special Agent, FBI and 9/11 Responder Michael O’Connell: Retired Lieutenant and 9/11 Responder, FDNY Luis Alvarez: Retired Detective and 9/11 Responder, NYPD Jon Stewart: 9/11 Responders and Survivors Advocate YouTube: This is a clip from the documentary: 911, Toxic Legacy which aired on Canadian CBC 9/10.2006, September 10, 2006 Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • The United States system of government depends on the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches keeping each other accountable, but what happens when two of the branches refuse to police the third? We might soon find out. In this episode, by examining the Attorney General William Barr's response to the release of the Mueller report, learn about recent events which foreshadow our system of government being tested in ways it hasn't been tested before.
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    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

    CD191: The "Democracies" of Elliott Abrams

    CD143: Trumps Law Enforcers

    _____________________________________________________

    Additional Reading

    Article: Barr Serving as Powerful Ally for Trump by Tom Hamburger, Washington Post, May 16, 2019.

    Article: Is this the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis? by Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, May 9, 2019. Podcast Episode: Mueller Report Audio, Timberlane Media, May 4, 2019.

    Article: Trump Finds in Barr the Attorney General — and shield — he long sought by Matt Zapotosky,Josh Dawsey,Tom Hamburger and Ashley Parker, Washington Post, May 2, 2019.

    Letter: Erik Prince Criminal Referal Letter, by Adam Schiff, Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence U.S. House of Representatives, April 30, 2019.

    Article: Mueller Complained that Barr's Letter did not Capture Context of Trump's Probe by Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotsky, The Washington Post, April 30, 2019.

    Article: Barr's Playbook: He Misled Congress by Ryan Goodman, Just Security, April 15, 2019.

    Article: Joe Biden's 2020 Ukranian Nightmare: A Closed Probe is Revived by John Solomon, The Hill, April 1, 2019.

    Article: Justice Under AG Barr Began Vast Surveillance Program Without Legal Review by Brad Heath, USA Today, March 28, 2019. Report: Mueller Letter to Barr on Russian Interference of 2016 Presidential Election by U.S. Department of Justice, Special Counsel's Office, March 27, 2019.

    Document: AG Barr’s 4 Page Summary by William Barr Attorney General of the United States, March 24, 2019.

    Document: Jen Briney Highlighted Mueller Report by Jen Briney, March 2019. Article: Attorney General Nominee Wrote Memo Critizing Mueller Obstruction Probe by Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, December 20, 2018.

    Article: Trump is compromised by Russia by by Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, November 29, 2018.

    Memo: Memo from Bill Barr to Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Meullers "Obstruction" Theory by Bill Barr, June 8, 2018.

    Article: Paul Manafort's complicated ties to Ukraine explained by Amber Phillips, Washington Post, August 19, 2016.

    Article: Donald Trump Aide Paul Manafort Scrutinized for Russian Business Ties by Tom Winter and Ken Dilanian, NBC News, August 18, 2016.

    Document: Manafort/Gates Indictment by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

    Article: U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions of Calls for Decades by Brad Heath, USA Today, April 7, 2015. Article: Obama, Holder Catch Heat for Close Ties by Carrie Johnson, NPR, July 9, 2010. Article: William P. Barr Oral History UVA Miller Center, April 5, 2001. Article: Bush Pardons 6 in Iran Affair by David Johnston, The New York Times, December 25, 1992.

    Article: Nominee Barr an Unusual Path to Attorney Generals Office by Sharon LaFraniere, The Washington Post, November 12, 1991.

    Article: U.S. "Power" on Abductions Detailed by Michael Isikoff, Washington Post, August 14, 1991

    Article: In Panama, An Illegal and Unwarranted Invasion by Matthew Rothschild, The Chicago Tribune, December 21, 1989.

    Letter: Crawford's Reply to Edwards by Honorable Don Edwards, The U.S. Department of Justice, November 7, 1989.

    Article: FBI Gets OK for Overseas Arrests by Ronald J. Ostrow, LA Times, October 13, 1989.

    _____________________________________________________

    Sound Clip Sources Press Conference: Speical Counsel Robert Mueller Statement on Russian Investigation, May 29, 2019.

    4:10 Special Counsel Robert Mueller: The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The introduction to the Volume II of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy, a president can not be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.

    5:40 Special Counsel Robert Mueller: First, the opinion explicitly explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available.

    6:10 Special Counsel Robert Mueller: And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

    Hearing: Attorney General William Barr Contempt Resolution, House Judiciary Committee, May 8, 2019.

    14:40 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY): I urge my colleagues to think about how the department’s latest position and their insistence on ignoring our subpoena effects our committee, over time. Our fight is not just about the Mueller report, although we must have access to the Mueller report. Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress as an independent branch to hold the president, any president, accountable.

    15:20 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY): The chairman of the oversight and Reform Committee has been sued in his personal capacity to prevent them from acquiring certain financial records from the Trump organization.

    15:30 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY): The president has stated that his administration will oppose all subpoenas, and in fact, virtually all document requests are going unsatisfied. Witnesses are refusing to show up at hearings. This is unprecedented. If allowed to go unchecked, this obstruction means the end of congressional oversight. As a coequal branch of government, we should not and cannot allow this to continue, or we will not be a coequal branch of government.

    Hearing: William Barr Testifies on Mueller Report, Senate Judiciary Committee, May 1, 2019.

    7:50 Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): I would like to do more to harden our infrastructure because the Russians did it. It wasn’t some 400 pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere. It was the Russians, and they’re still doing it. And it can be the Chinese, it could be somebody next. So my takeaway from this report is that we’ve got a lot of work to do to defend democracy against the Russians and other bad actors. And I promise the committee we will get on. Would that work? Hopefully in a bipartisan fashion.

    9:20 Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): This is what Strzok said on February 12th, 2016 “Now he’s in charge of the Clinton email investigation”.

    11:25 Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): “Trump is a fucking idiot”.

    17:05 Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA: First Special Counsel Mueller’s report confirms that the Russian government implemented a social media campaign to mislead millions of Americans.

    32:50 Attorney General William Barr: The special counsel investigated whether anyone affiliated with president Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with these criminal schemes. They concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to establish that there had been any conspiracy or coordination with the Russian government or the IRA.

    33:40 Attorney General William Barr: Now we first heard that the special council’s decision not to decide the obstruction issue at at the March 5th meeting when he came over to the department and we were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision on obstruction. We asked them a lot about the reasoning behind this and the basis for Special Council Mueller stated three times to us in that meeting in response to our questioning that he emphatically was not saying that, but for the OLC’s opinion, he would have found obstruction.

    34:40 Attorney General William Barr: Once we heard that the special counsel was not reaching a conclusion on obstruction, the deputy and I discussed and agreed that the department had to reach a decision. We had the responsibility to assess the evidence as set forth in the report and to make the judgment. I say this because the special counsel was appointed to carry out the investigative and prosecutorial functions of the department and to do it as part of the Department of Justice. The powers he was using, including the power of using a grand jury and using compulsory process exists for that purpose. The function of the Department of Justice in this arena (which is to determine whether or not there has been criminal conduct). It’s a binary decision. Is there enough evidence to show a crime and do we believe a crime has been committed?

    35:30 Attorney General William Barr: We don’t conduct criminal investigations just to collect information and put it out to the public, we do so to make a decision.

    35:40 Attorney General William Barr: And here we thought there was an additional reason, which is this was a very public investigation and we had made clear that the results of the investigation we’re going to be made public, and the deputy and I felt that the evidence developed by the special counsel was not sufficient to establish that the president committed a crime, and therefore it would be irresponsible and unfair for the department to release a report without stating the department’s conclusions and thus leave it hanging as to whether the department considered there had been criminal conduct.

    38:13 Attorney General William Barr: We prepared the letter for that purpose. To state the bottom line conclusions. We use the language from the report to state those bottom line conclusions. I analogize it to announcing after an extended trial what the verdict of the trial is, pending release of the full transcript.

    38:40 Attorney General William Barr: We were not trying to summarize the 410 page report.

    44:05 Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): Very quickly, give us your reasoning why you think it would be inappropriate to proceed forward on obstruction of justice in this case.
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, um, generally speaking, an obstruction case, uh, typically has two aspects to it. One, there’s usually an underlying criminality that…
    Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): Let’s stop right here.
    Attorney General William Barr: Yeah
    Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): Was there an underlying crime here?
    Attorney General William Barr: No.

    48:00 Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): Do you think the President’s campaign in 2016 was thoroughly looked at in terms of whether or not they colluded with the Russians?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yes.
    Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): And the answer is no according to Bob Mahler.
    Attorney General William Barr: That’s right.
    Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC): He couldn’t decide about obstruction, you did. Is that correct?
    Attorney General William Barr: That’s right.

    1:02:08 Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA): In volume two of the report, the special council declined to make a traditional prosecutorial decision. Instead, the special council laid out 200 or so pages relating to a potential obstruction analysis and then dumped that on your desk. In your press conference you said that you asked the special council whether he would have made a charging decision or recommended charges on obstruction, but for the office of legal console’s opinion on charging sitting presidents, and that the special counsel made clear that was not the case. So Mr. Barr, is that an accurate description of your conversation with the special council?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yes, he, he reiterated several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that, but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.
    Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA): Yeah. If the special console found facts as sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, would he have stated that finding?
    Attorney General William Barr: If he had found that, then I think he would state it. Yes.
    Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA): Yeah.

    1:03:45 Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA): Do you agree with the reasons that he offered for not making a decision and Volume II of his report and why or why not?
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, I’m not really sure of his reasoning. I really could not recapitulate his analysis, which is one of the reasons in my March 24th letter. I simply stated the fact that he did not reach a conclusion and didn’t try to put words in his mouth. Um, I think that if he felt that he shouldn’t have gone down the path of making a traditional prosecuted decision, then he shouldn’t have investigated. That was the time to, uh, pull up.
    Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA): Okay.

    1:37:53 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When did you first learn of the New York Times and Washington Post stories that would make the existence of this letter public? The ones that came out last night?
    Attorney General William Barr: I think it could have been yesterday, but I’m not sure.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When they contacted you to ask for any comment?
    Attorney General William Barr: They didn’t contact me.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)*: Contact to DOJ and ask for any comment?
    Attorney General William Barr: I can’t actually remember how it came up, but someone mentioned it.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): So you…at some point you knew that the Mueller letter was going to become public and that was probably yesterday?
    Attorney General William Barr: I think so.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Okay. When did you decide to make that letter available to us in Congress
    Attorney General William Barr: This morning.

    1:37:53 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When did you first learn of the New York Times and Washington Post stories that would make the existence of this letter public? The ones that came out last night?
    Attorney General William Barr: I think it could have been yesterday, but I’m not sure.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When they contacted you to ask for any comment?
    Attorney General William Barr: They didn’t contact me.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)*: Contact to DOJ and ask for any comment?
    Attorney General William Barr: I can’t actually remember how it came up, but someone mentioned it.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): So you…at some point you knew that the Mueller letter was going to become public and that was probably yesterday?
    Attorney General William Barr: I think so.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Okay. When did you decide to make that letter available to us in Congress
    Attorney General William Barr: This morning.

    1:40:30 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): The…
    Attorney General William Barr: As I said, I wasn’t interested in putting out summaries. Period.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Well, you know, we can…
    Attorney General William Barr: Frankly…
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): This is another hairsplitting exercise because Bob Mueller, (who I think we all agree is fairly credible) actually described your letter as a summary. So you can say it wasn’t a summary, but Mueller said it was a summary and I don’t think…
    Attorney General William Barr: I wasn’t interested in summarizing the whole report. As I say, I was stating that the bottom line conclusions of the report…
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Your letter said it’s intended to describe the report, I quote your words…
    Attorney General William Barr: Yeah, describe the report meaning volume one [inaudible]
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When you describe the report in four pages and it’s a 400 page report, I don’t know why you’re cowboying about whether it’s a summary or not.
    Attorney General William Barr: Because I state in the letter that I’m stating that the principle conclusions.

    1:41:13 Attorney General William Barr: You know, Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a US attorney. He was exercising the powers of the attorney general subject to the supervision of the attorney general. He’s part of the Department of Justice. His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. At that point, it was my baby.

    1:42:59 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Um, the interesting thing to me is that it goes on to say that because of the OLC opinion, we have to give the president an extra benefit of the doubt because he is denied his day in court where he could exonerate himself. That seems like a fallacy to me because if you are the president of the United States, you can either waive or readily override the OLC opinion and say, “I’m ready to go to trial.” “I want to exonerate myself.” “Let’s go.” Could you not?
    Attorney General William Barr: How is this relevant to my decisions?
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): It’s relevant…
    Attorney General William Barr: Because I assumed that there was no OLC opinion.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Well, we have a report in front of us that says that this influenced the outcome. And in particular it says it influenced the outcome because it deprived the president of his ability to have his day in court. And my point to you is that the president could easily have his day in court by simply waving or overriding this OLC opinion that has no judicial basis. Correct?
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, I don’t…I don’t think that there was anything to have a day in court on. I think that the government did not have a prosecutable case,
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): but part…well Mueller obviously didn’t agree because he left that up to you.
    Attorney General William Barr: Well…
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): He said that he could neither confirm nor deny that there was a prosecutable case here. He left that to you and when he did, he said, and you apparently have agreed that this OLC opinion bears on it, and then it would be unfair to the president to put them to the burden of being indicted and not having the ability to be charged himself…
    Attorney General William Barr: I don’t want to characterize…have Bob’s thought process on this.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): I’m not asking you to characterize it. It’s in his report. He’s put it in writing.
    Attorney General William Barr: I’m not sure what he means by that in the report.

    1:54:13 Sen. John Kennedy (LA): Tell me again briefly why Mr. Mueller told you he reached no conclusion…or he couldn’t make up his mind or whatever. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth.
    Attorney General William Barr: I really couldn’t recapitulate it. I… it was unclear to us.

    2:31:25 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): The special council specifically said (at the same time I’m quoting), "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. He said it again at page 182, and yet in your summary and in the press room conference that you did, you in effect cleared the president on both so-called collusion.
    Attorney General William Barr: Yeah. The difference is that I use the proper standard. Um, that statement you just read is actually a very strange statement.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): For four of the specific obstruction episodes, Robert Mueller concluded that it was substantial evidence on four on the three necessary elements of obstruction.
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, you’re…you’re on. You’re a prospect…
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): I have to finish my question with all…
    Attorney General William Barr: You haven’t let me finish my answer.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Well, uh, let me just finish the…
    Chairman Lindsay Graham (SC): We can do both.
    Attorney General William Barr: Alright, good.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Uh, you ignored in that press conference and in the summary that Robert Mueller found substantial evidence and it’s in the report, and we have a chart that shows the elements of that crime. Intent, interference with an ongoing investigation and the obstructive act.

    2:38:35 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): You started by citing this thing in Volume II about how the report says that they could not be sure that they could clearly say that he did not violate the law. As you know, that’s not the standard we use in the criminal justice system. It’s presumed that if someone is innocent and the government has to prove that they clearly violated the law. We’re not in the business of exoneration. We’re not in the business of proving they didn’t violate law.
    Attorney General William Barr: I found that whole act very…
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): …exonerated him in your press conference and in your four page summary
    Attorney General William Barr: How did that start? I didn’t hear the beginning of the question?
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): You in effect exonerated or cleared the president?
    Attorney General William Barr: No, I didn’t exonerate. I said that we did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction offense, which is the job of the Justice Department and the job of the Justice Department is now over. That determines whether or not there’s a crime. The report is now in the hands of the American people. Everyone can decide for themselves. There’s an election in 18 months. That’s very democratic process, but we’re out of it and we have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon.

    2:50:30 Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): You lied to Congress. You told Representative Charlie Krist that you didn’t know what objections Mueller’s team might have to your March 24th so-called summary. You told Senator Chris Van Hollen that you didn’t know if Bob Mueller supported your conclusions, but you knew you lied, and now we know.

    2:51:10 Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): I expected you would try to protect the president, and indeed you did. In 1989…this isn’t something you hadn’t done before. In 1989, when you refuse to show Congress and OLC opinion that led to the arrest of Manual Noriega. In 1992, when you recommended partners for the subjects of the Iran Contra scandal and last year when you wrote the 19 page memo, telling “Donald Trump as president”, can’t be guilty of obstruction of justice, and then didn’t recuse yourself from the matter. From the beginning, you are addressing an audience of one. That person being Donald Trump.

    3:00:40 Attorney General William Barr: How did we get to the point here where the evidence is now that the president was falsely accused of colluding with the Russians and accused of being treasonous and accused of being a Russian agent. And the evidence now is that was without a basis and two years of his administration, uh, have been dominated by the allegations that have now been proven false. And you know, to listen to some of the rhetoric, you would think that the Mueller report and found the opposite.

    3:18:14 Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): In your March 24th summary, you wrote: “After reviewing the special council’s final report, deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.” Now the special council’s investigation produced a great deal of evidence. Um, I’ve led to believe it included witnesses, notes and emails, witnesses, congressional testimony, witnesses, interviews, um, which were summarized in the FBI 302 forms, former FBI Director Columbia’s memos and the president’s public statements. My question is, in reaching your conclusion, did you personally review all of the underlying evidence?
    Attorney General William Barr: Uh, no. We took a… we excepted…
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Did…Did Mr Rosenstein…?
    Attorney General William Barr: No, we accepted the statements in the report as the factual record. We did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. We accepted it as accurate and made our…
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): So you accepted the report as the evidence?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yes.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): You did not question or look at the underlying evidence that supports the conclusions in the report?
    Attorney General William Barr: No.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Did, uh, Mr Rosenstein review the evidence that underlines and supports the conclusions in the report…to your knowledge?
    Attorney General William Barr: Not to my knowledge. We accepted the statements in the report.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Did anyone in your…
    Attorney General William Barr: The characterization of the evidence is true.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Did anyone in your executive office review the evidence supporting the report?
    Attorney General William Barr: No.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): No.

    3:20:17 Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): As the Attorney General of the United States, you run the United States Department of Justice. If in any US attorney’s office around the country, the head of that office, when being asked to make a critical decision about in this case the person who holds the highest office in the land and whether or not that person committed a crime. Would you accept them recommending a charging decision to you if they’d had not reviewed the evidence?
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, that’s a question for Bob Mueller. He’s the U.S. Attorney. He’s the one who presents the report.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): But it was you who made the charging decisions there. You made the decision not to charge the president
    Attorney General William Barr: No, in the pross memo and in the declination memo…
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): You said it was your baby. What did you mean by that?
    Attorney General William Barr: It was my baby to let, to decide whether or not to disclose it to the public.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): And whose decision was it,? Who had the power to make the decision about whether or not the evidence was sufficient to make a determination of whether there had been an obstruction of justice?
    Attorney General William Barr: Prosecution memos go up to the supervisor. In this case, it was the…you know, the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, who… who decide on the final decision, and that is based on the memo as presented by the US Attorney’s office.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): I think you’ve made it clear that you’ve not looked at…we can move on. I think you’ve made it clear Sir that you’ve not looked at the evidence and we can move on.

    3:22:25 Attorney General William Barr: You know I haven’t been the only decision maker here. Now let’s take the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who was approved by the Senate 94 to 6 with specific discussion on the floor that he would be responsible for supervising the Russian investing.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): I’m glad you brought up that. That’s a great topic.
    Attorney General William Barr: He has 30 years experience and we had a number of senior prosecutors in the department involved in this process, both career and non-career.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Yes, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve read a lot . I have another question and I’m glad you brought that subject up because I have a question about that. Earlier today in response to Senator Graham, you said quote “that you consulted with Rosenstein constantly” With respect to the special council’s investigation report, but Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein is also a key witness and the firing of FBI Director Comey. Did you consult with…? I’m not finished.
    Attorney General William Barr: Yeah?
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Did you consult with DOJ Ethics officials before you enlisted Rod Rosenstein to participate in a charging decision for an investigation? The subject, of which; he is also a witness.
    Attorney General William Barr: My understanding was that he had been cleared already to participate in it.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): So you had consulted with them and they cleared it?
    Attorney General William Barr: No, I think they cleared it when he took over the investigation. Did you consider?..
    Attorney General William Barr: That’s my understanding? I am…I
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): You don’t know whether he’s been cleared of a conflict of interest?
    Attorney General William Barr: You would be participating if there was a conflict of interest.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): So you’re saying that it did not need to be reviewed by the career ethics officials in your office?
    Attorney General William Barr: I believe, well I believe it was reviewed and I…
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): and what role should find…?
    Attorney General William Barr: I would also point out that this seems to be a bit of a flip flop because when the president’s supporters were challenging Rosenstein
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): I think in this case that you’re not answering the question directly.
    Attorney General William Barr: What?
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Did the ethics officials in your office, in the Department of Justice, review the appropriateness of Rod Rosenstein being a part of making a charging decision on an investigation, which he is also a witness in?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yeah. So as I said, my understanding was he had been cleared and he had been cleared before I arrived.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): In making a decision on the Mueller report?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yes.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): And, and the findings of whether or not the case would be charged on obstruction of justice? Had he been cleared on that?
    Attorney General William Barr: He was, he was the acting Attorney General on the Mueller investigation.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Had he been cleared?
    Attorney General William Barr: He had been, I am…
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): By your side recommendation?
    Attorney General William Barr: I am informed before I arrived, he had been cleared by the ethics officials.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): Of what?
    Attorney General William Barr: Serving as acting Attorney General on the Mueller case.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): How about making a charging decision on obstruction of justice?
    Attorney General William Barr: That is what the acting…
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): With the lack of offenses, which include him as a witness?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yeah. He, that’s what the acting Attorney General’s job is.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): To be a witness and to make the decision about being a prosecutor?
    Attorney General William Barr: Well. No. But the big charging decisions.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): I have nothing else. My time has run out.

    3:45:15 Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): And President Trump. I am correcting my earlier statement, never allowed anybody to interview him directly under oath. Is that correct?
    Attorney General William Barr: I think that’s correct.
    Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): Even though he said he’s ready to testify. Thank you.

    3:45:42 Attorney General William Barr: The absence of an underlying crime doesn’t necessarily mean that there would be other motives for obstruction. Although, it gets a little bit harder to prove and more speculative as to what those motives might be. But the point I was trying to make earlier, is that in this situation of the president, (who has constitutional authority to supervise proceedings), if in fact a proceeding was not well founded. If it was a groundless proceeding, if it was based on false allegations, the president does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course. The president could terminate that proceeding and it would not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused and he would be worried about the impact on his administration. That’s important, because most of the obstruction claims that are being made here or, episodes, do involve the exercise of the president’s constitutional authority. And we now know that he was being falsely accused.

    3:52:05 Attorney General William Barr: Right after March 5th, we started discussing what the implications of this were and how we would…
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): And you made the decision when?
    Attorney General William Barr: Uh, probably on Sunday the 24th.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): That’s the day the letter came out?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yes. We made the decision…
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): And make the decision until the letter came out?
    Attorney General William Barr: No. No.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): You must have told somebody how to write the letter, you couldn’t…
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When did you actually decide that there was no obstruction?
    Attorney General William Barr: The 24th.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Okay.

    3:52:35 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): When did you get the first draft of the Mueller report?
    Attorney General William Barr: The, the first?.. It wasn’t a draft. We got the final.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): The first version of it that you saw?
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, the only version of it I saw.
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Okay, the only version for you Sir. When you do first?
    Attorney General William Barr: The 22nd
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): The 22nd

    3:52:50 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Now you told Senator Harris that you made your decision on the obstruction charge, you and Rosenstein, based on the Mueller report. Did I correctly infer that you made that decision then between the 22nd and the 24th?
    Attorney General William Barr: Well, we had had a lot of discussions about it before the 22nd but then the final decision was made on the 24th
    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): and you didn’t…
    Attorney General William Barr: We had more than two and a half days to consider this. LLC had already done a lot of thinking about some of these issues even before, uh, the…we got the report.

    4:03:30 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): This letter was an extraordinary act. A career prosecutor would rebuking the Attorney General of the United States memorializing in writing. Right? I know of no other incidents of that happening. Do you?
    Attorney General William Barr: Uh, I don’t consider Bob at this stage, a career prosecutor. He’s had a career as a prosecutor.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Well, he was a very eminent…
    Attorney General William Barr: Who was the head of the FBI for 12 years? Um…
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): He’s a career…He’s had a, he’s… law enforcement professional?
    Attorney General William Barr: Right? Yup.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): I know of no other instances of…
    Attorney General William Barr: But he was also political appointee and he was a political appointee with me at the Department of Justice. I don’t, I, you know, the letters a bit snitty and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Did you make a memorandum of your conversation?
    Attorney General William Barr: Huh?
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Did you make a memory?
    Attorney General William Barr: No, I didn’t need anyone else around them. What?
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Did anyone, either you or anyone on your staff memorialize your conversation with Robert Mueller?
    Attorney General William Barr: Yes.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT):Who did that?
    Attorney General William Barr: Uh, there were notes taken of the call.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): May We have those notes?
    Attorney General William Barr: No.
    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT):Why not?
    Attorney General William Barr: Why should you have them?

    Hearing: Attorney General Barr News Conference on Mueller Report Release, Department of Justice, April 18, 2019.

    4:00 Attorney General William Barr: As the Special Counsel’s report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in our election. But thanks to the Special Counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.

    9:30 Attorney General William Barr: Special Counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. Instead, the report recounts ten episodes involving the President and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense. After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

    10:30 Attorney General William Barr: In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.

    18:00 Attorney General William Barr: But I will say that when we met with him, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and I met with him, along with Ed o’Callaghan, who is the principal associate deputy, on March 5th. We specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking a position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion. And he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. He was not saying that but for the OLC opinion, he would have found a crime. He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.”

    19:30 Attorney General William Barr: And we don’t go through this process just to collect information and throw it out to the public. We collect this information. We use that compulsory process for the purpose of making that decision. And because the special counsel did not make that decision, we felt the department had to. That was a decision by me and the deputy attorney general.

    20:15 Attorney General William Barr: Well, special counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress. I hope that was not his view, since we don’t convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose. He did not – I didn’t talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision.

    Hearing: Justice Department Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, April 9, 2019. 1:07:10 Rep. Charlie Crist (FL): Reports have emerged recently, General, that members of the Special Council’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?
    Attorney General William Barr: No, I don’t. I suspect that they probably wanted more put out. Hearing: Michael Cohen Testimony, House Oversight Committee, February 27, 2019.

    4:01:34 Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): On January 17 of this year, the Wall Street Journal published a story stating that you hired John Gauger, the owner of a consulting company who works for Liberty University in Virginia, to rig at least two online polls related to Donald Trump. Did you hire him? Michael Cohen: Those were back in I believe 2015? Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): 2014. Michael Cohen: 2014. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): 2014. So you did hire him? Michael Cohen: Yes. I spoke with Mr. Gauger about manipulating these online polls. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): And did he use bots to manipulate the poll? Michael Cohen: He used algorithms and if that includes bots then the answer’s yes. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): Yes. That’s accurate. Did the president have any involvement Michael Cohen: Yes. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): In directing you to do this? Michael Cohen: Yes. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA): What were the results of the poll Michael Cohen: Exactly where we wanted them to be. In the CNBC poll, we came in at number nine. And the Drudge Report, he was top of the Drudge Report as well.

    4:50:20 Michael Cohen: So there was a contract that I ended up creating Mr Trump’s behalf for a Ukrainian oligarch by the name of Victor Pinchuk. And it was that Mr. Trump was asked to come into participate in what was the Ukrainian American Economic Forum. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to go, but I was able to negotiate 15 minutes by Skype where they would have a camera, very much like a television camera, very much like that one. And they would translate Mr. Trump to the questionnaire and then he would respond back. And I negotiated a fee of $150,000 for 15 minutes. I was directed by Mr. Trump to have the contract done in the name of the Donald J. Trump foundation as opposed to Donald J. Trump or services rendered.

    Hearing: FBI Oversight, Senate Judicary Committee, May 3, 2017.

    Witnesses:

    James Comey: FBI Director

    Sound Clips:

    *2:27:00: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): So potentially the President of the United States could be a target of your ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russian interference in our election. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: I just worry… I don’t want to answer that because it seems to be unfair speculation. We will follow the evidence. We’ll try and find as much as we can and we’ll follow the evidence where it leads.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • We finally have the facts. The two year long investigation, lead by Robert Mueller, into whether or not the 2016 Donald Trump for President campaign worked with members of the Russian government to steal and release Democratic Party emails is now complete. In this episode, after reading every word of the 448 page report, Jen breaks what the facts indicate Donald Trump did and did not do so that we can all be "in the know" for the Congressional battles with the President that are sure to come.

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    Official Mueller Report

    Jen Briney's highlighted version

    Interactive Mueller Report from The New York Times

    Justice Department's pdf version

    Additional Reading Article: Roger Stone/ Mueller Report: 448 pages with 900 redactions by Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic, May 1, 2019. Document: Official Mueller Report U.S. Department of Justice, March 2019.

    Document: Interactive NYT Mueller report New York Times, March 2019.

    Article: Taibbi: As Mueller Probe Ends,New Russiagate Myth Begins by Matt Taibbi, RollingStone, March 25, 2019.

    Article: Cohen Hired IT Firm to Rig Early CNBC, Drudge Polls to Favor Trump by Michael Rothfeld, Rob Barry and Joe Palazzolo, Washington Post, January 17, 2019. Article: Trump Dodges Question on Fox News if He's a Russian Asset by Audrey McNamara, The Daily Beast, January 13, 2019. Article: Trump is Compromised by Russia by Michele Goldberg, NY Times, November 29, 2018.

    Article: Text with Roger Stone’s name (Volume II, pg 128), by Marisa Schultz and Nikki Schwab, New York Post, November 28, 2018.

    Article: Roger Stone Associate says He won't agree to Plea Deal by Sara Murray and Eli Watkins, CNN, November 26, 2018. Article: 14 States Forgo Paper Ballots, Despite Security Warnings by Gopal Ratnam, Government Technology, October 31, 2018. Article: Will Trump be Meeting his Russian Counterpart or Handler? by Jonathon Chait, NY Intelligencer, July 2018.

    Transcript: Remarks by President Trump in Press Gaggle The White House, June 15, 2018.

    Article: Rudy Giulani says Mueller Probe might Get Cleaned up with Presidential Pardons by Chris Somerfeldt, NY Daily News, June 15, 2018 Article: Michael Cohen has said he would take a bullet for Trump by Honorable Maggie Haberman, Sharon LaFriere and Danny Hakim, NY Times, April 20, 2018. Article: Russians Turned Away at Seattle Consulate After Trump announces Closure by Evan Bush, Christine Clarridge, Dominic Gates and Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, March, 26 2018. Article: It's Official: Russiagate is this Generation's WMD by Matt Taibbi, Substack, March 23, 2018. Article: Russian Tweets used as sources for Partisan Opinion study by Josephine Lukito and Chris Wells, Columbia Journalism Review, March 8, 2018. Article: Cable News Ad Revenue up 25 Percent by Joe Concha, The Hill, February 23, 2018. Document: Transcript of December 13, 2017 Rosenstein hearing by Committee of the Judiciary House of Representative U.S. Congress, December 13, 2017. Article: In Retaliations, US Orders Russian to Close Consulate in San Francisco by Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris, NY Times, August, 31 2017. Article: Excerpts from Interview with Trump by Stephen Crowley, NY Times, July 19, 2017. Document: Transcript of June 8, 2017 Comey hearing by Select Committee on Intelligence U.S. Senate, June 8, 2017. Article: Comey, Mueller and the Showdown at John Ashcroft's Hospital Bed by Colleen Shalby, LA Times, May 17, 2017. Document: Statement from Press Secretary regarding James Comey's Testimony White House U.S. Press Secretary, May 9, 2017.

    Article: Sessions Met with Russian Ambassador During Trumps Presidential Campaign by Adam Entous, Ellen Naskashima and Greg Miller, The Washington Post, March 1, 2017

    Article: National Security Advisor Flynn Discussed Sanctions with Russian Ambassador Despite Denials by Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima Washington Post, February 9, 2017. Document: Steele Dossier Confidential, by Mark Schoofs, BuzzFeed, October 19, 2016. Article: Wiki Leaks to Publish More Hilary Emails by Mark Tran, The Guardian, June 12, 2016. Article: Panel Told of a Sickbed Face-Off by Richard Schmitt, LA Times, May 16, 2007. Resources

    Press Gaggle Transcript: Remarks by President Trump in Press Gaggle, June 15, 2018

    Hearing Transcript: Oversight Hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, December 13, 2017

    Hearing Transcript: Open Hearing with Former FBI Director James Comey, June 8, 2017

    Report: Steele Dossier, Company Intelligence Report 2016/080

    Statement Transcript: Statement from the Press Secretary, May 9, 2017

    Visual Resources Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Michael Cohen Testimony Before House Oversight Committee, C-SPAN, February 27, 2019.

    Sound Clips:

    33:31 Michael Cohen: You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.

    33:44 Michael Cohen: To be clear, Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.

    39:21 Michael Cohen: Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation, only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say this campaign was going to be greatest infomercial in political history. He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign, for him, was always a marketing opportunity.

    43:50 Michael Cohen: Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw man to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned off at an art Hampton’s event. The objective was to ensure that this portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.

    48:50 Michael Cohen: When I say con man, I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant, but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.

    53:09 Michael Cohen: Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.

    55:31 Michael Cohen: And by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal scurrilous attacks by the president and his lawyer trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel.

    56:30 Michael Cohen: And I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle make it clear that as a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before Congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.

    2:10:30 Michael Cohen: And when Mr. Trump turned around early in the campaign and said, I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, I want to be very clear. He's not joking. He's telling you the truth. You don't know him. I do. I sat next to this man for 10 years and I watched his back.

    2:11:13 Michael Cohen: And when he goes on Twitter and he starts bringing in my in-laws, my parents, my wife, what does he think is going to happen? He's causing... He's sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants. This is his country. He's becoming an autocrat and hopefully something bad will happen to me or my children and my wife so that I will not be here and testify. That's what his hope was. To intimidate me.

    2:11:46 Rep. Jim Cooper (TN): Have you ever seen Mr. Trump personally threaten people with physical harm? Michael Cohen: No. He would use others.

    2:12:00 Michael Cohen: Everybody’s job at the Trump organization is to protect Mr. Trump

    2:12:07 Michael Cohen: Every day. Most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm, and that's exactly what's happening right now in, in this country. That's exactly what's happening here in government.

    4:10:30 Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI): Mr Cohen, why do you feel or believe that the president is repeatedly attacking you? You are stating that you feel intimidated asking us to protect you following your cooperation with law enforcement. Michael Cohen: When you have access to 60 plus million people that follow you on social media and you have the ability within which to spark some action by individuals that follow and follow him and from his own words that he can walk down Fifth Avenue, shoot someone and get away with it. It's never comfortable when the President of the United States… Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI): What do you think he can do to you? Michael Cohen: A lot. And it's not just him, it's those people that follow him in his rhetoric. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI): What is a lot? Michael Cohen: I don't know. I don't walk with my wife. If we go to a restaurant or we go somewhere, I don't walk with my children. I make them go before me because I have fear and it's the same fear that I had before when he initially decided to drop that tweet in my cell phone. I receive some, and I'm sure you, you'll understand. I received some tweets. I received some Facebook messenger, all sorts of social media attacks upon me, whether it's the private direct message that I've had to turn over to secret service because they are the most vile, disgusting statements that anyone can ever receive. And when it starts to affect your children, that's when it really affects you.

    Interview: Trump joins Judge Jeanine for a phone interview to give an update on where Washington is at with the border crisis, Fox News, January 12, 2019.

    Sound Clip:

    15:00 President Donald Trump: Look, I was a client of his, and you know, you're supposed to have lawyer-client privilege, but it doesn't matter because I'm a very honest person, frankly, but he's in trouble on some loans and fraud and taxi cabs and stuff that I know nothing about and in order to get a sentence reduced, he says, "I have an idea, I'll give you some information on the president." Well, there is no information, but he should give information, maybe on his father in law because that's the one that people want to look at because where does that money? That's the money in the family. And I guess he didn't want to talk about his father in law. He's trying to get his sentence reduced. Press Conference: President Trump Accuses Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen of Lying, C-SPAN, November 29, 2018.

    Sound Clip:

    1:00 President Donald Trump: He was convicted of various things unrelated to us. He was given a fairly long jail sentence and he’s a weak person. And by being weak, unlike other people that you watch - he is a weak person. And what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. Interview: Interview with Ainsley Earhardt on Fox & Friends, YouTube, August 23, 2018.

    Sound Clips:

    Ainsley Earhardt:What grade do you give yourself so far? President Donald Trump: So, I give myself an A+. Ainsley Earhardt: Will you fire Sessions? President Donald Trump: I'll tell you what, as I've said, I wanted to stay uninvolved, but when everybody sees what's going on in the Justice Department - I put "Justice" now in quotes - It's a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn't have done, or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that Jeff sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in. He took the job and then he said, "I'm going to recuse myself." I said, "What kind of a man is this?" And by the way, he was on the campaign and you know, the only reason I gave him the job, because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter.

    President Donald Trump: He makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else, and one of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial... You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years, I've been watching flippers. Everything's wonderful, and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It's not fair.

    Press Briefing: President Trump Remarks on John Brennan and Mueller Probe, C-SPAN, August 17, 2018.

    Sound Clip:

    President Donald Trump: I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad when you look at what’s going on there. I think it’s a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what, he happens to be a very good person. And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort. News Report: State of the Union with Jake Tapper, CNN, YouTube, June 17, 2018.

    Transcript

    9:30 Jake Tapper: How do you respond to critics who say you discussing it on TV, you discussing it with the New York Daily News, President Trump tweeting, that you're sending a signal to defendants in a criminal prosecution that a pardon is out there. It might be on its way. Some people think that this is the president and you suggesting that - signaling really, - don't cooperate with prosecutors because the pardon is there if you'll just hold on. Rudy Giuliani: Jake, I don't think that's the interpretation. It's certainly not intended that way. What it should be... I'll tell you what I clearly mean. What I mean is you're not going to get a pardon just because you're involved in this investigation. You probably have a higher burden if you're involved in this investigation as compared to the others who get pardons but you're certainly not excluded from it if, in fact, the president and his advisors, not me, come to the conclusion that you've been treated unfairly. Press Conference: President Trump gives off-the-cuff news conference on White House lawn, CNBC, June 15, 2018.

    Transcript

    Sound Clips:

    6:30 Reporter: So there’s some high-profile court cases going on. You’ve got a former campaign manager, your former lawyer. They’re all dealing with legal troubles. Are you paying close attention — President Donald Trump: Well, I feel badly about a lot of them, because I think a lot of it is very unfair. I mean, I look at some of them where they go back 12 years. Like Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel so — I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?

    8:50 Reporter: Is he still your lawyer? President Donald Trump: No, he’s not my lawyer anymore. But I always liked Michael, and he’s a good person. And I think he’s been — Reporter: Are you worried he will cooperate? President Donald Trump: Excuse me, do you mind if I talk? Reporter: I just want to know if you’re worried — President Donald Trump: You’re asking me a question; I’m trying to ask it. Reporter: I just want to know if you’re worried if he’s going to cooperate with federal investigators. President Donald Trump: No, I’m not worried because I did nothing wrong.

    White House Briefing: President Trump receives a briefing from Military Leadership, YouTube, April 9, 2018.

    Transcript

    Sound Clips:

    President Donald Trump: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down. We’ve given, I believe, over a million pages’ worth of documents to the Special Counsel. They continue to just go forward. And here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things. We’re the greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now.

    President Donald Trump: The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself. Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different Attorney General in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country. But you’ll figure that out.

    Hearing: Facebook, Google, and Twitter Executives on Russia Election Interference, Senate Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN, November 1, 2017.

    Sound Clips:

    1:49:24 Sen. Roy Blunt (MO): Mr. Stretch, how much money did the Russians spend on ads that we now look back as either disruptive or politically intended? It was at $100,000. Is that— Colin Stretch: It was approximately $100,000. Blunt: I meant from your company. Stretch: Yes, approximately $100,000. Blunt: How much of that did they pay before the election? Stretch: The— Blunt: I’ve seen the— Stretch: Yeah. Blunt: —number 44,000. Blunt: Is that right? Stretch: So— Blunt: 56 after, 44 before. Stretch: The ad impressions ran 46% before the election, the remainder after the election. Blunt: 46%. Well, if I had a consultant that was trying to impact an election and spent only 46% of the money before Election Day, I’d be pretty upset about that, I think. So, they spent $46,000. How much did the Clinton and Trump campaigns spend on Facebook? I assume before the election. Stretch: Yeah. Before the elec— Blunt: They were better organized than the other group. Stretch: Approximate—combined approximately $81 million. Blunt: 81 million, and before the election. Stretch: Yes. Blunt: So, 81 million. I’m not a great mathematician, but 46,000, 81 million, would that be, like, five one-thousandths of one percent? It’s something like that. Stretch: It’s a small number by comparison, sir. Hearing: Russian Interference in 2016 Election, Senate Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN, June 8, 2017.

    Witness:

    James Comey - Former FBI Director

    Sound Clips:

    48:20 Senator James Risch (ID): You put this in quotes. Words matter. You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There’s 28 words there that are in quotes, and it says, quote, ‘‘I hope’’—this is the President speaking—‘‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’’Now those are his exact words, is that correct? James Comey:: Correct. Senator RISCH: And you wrote them here and you put them in quotes? Director COMEY: Correct. Senator RISCH: Okay. Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go? Director COMEY: Not in his words, no. Senator RISCH: He did not order you to let it go? Director COMEY: Again, those words are not an order. Senator RISCH: No. He said, ‘‘I hope.’’ Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses. And of course you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? Director COMEY: I don’t know well enough to answer. And the reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction. Senator RISCH: Right. Director COMEY: I mean, this is the President of the United States with me alone, saying, ‘‘I hope’’ this. I took it as this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

    54:18 Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA): You described two phone calls that you re- ceived from President Trump, one on March 30 and one on April 11, where he, quote, ‘‘described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability,’’ end quote, as President and asked you, quote, ‘‘to lift the cloud,’’ end quote. How did you interpret that? And what did you believe he wanted you to do? Director COMEY: I interpreted that as he was frustrated that the Russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy, I think he meant of the Executive Branch, but in the public square in general, and it was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. But what he asked me was actually narrower than that. So I think what he meant by the cloud, and again I could be wrong, but what I think he meant by the cloud was the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on the things I want to focus on. The ask was to get it out that I, the President, am not personally under investigation.

    1:17:17 Sen. Susan Collins (ME): And was the President under investigation at the time of your dismissal on May 9th? James Comey: No.

    1:30:15 James Comey: On March the 30th, and I think again on—I think on April 11th as well, I told him we’re not investigating him personally. That was true.

    1:39:10 Sen. Angus King (ME): And in his press conference on May 18th, the President was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn. The President responded, quote, ‘‘No, no. Next question.’’ Is that an accurate statement? James Comey: I don’t believe it is.

    1:48:15 James Comey: I think there’s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the Oval Office, looking the FBI Director in the eye, and saying, ‘‘I hope you’ll let this go.’’ I think if our—if the agents, as good as they are, heard the President of the United States did that there’s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work.

    2:21:35 Sen. Jack Reed (RI): You interpret the discussion with the President about Flynn as a direction to stop the investigation. Is that correct? James Comey: Yes.

    2:24:25 James Comey: I know I was fired because something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that. I can’t go farther than that.

    2:26:00 James Comey: There’s no doubt that it’s a fair judgment, it’s my judgment, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change—or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.

    Interview: Lester Holt Exclusive Interview with President Trump, NBC News, May 11, 2017.

    Sound Clips:

    President Donald Trump: Look, he's a show boat. He's a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that.

    Lester Holt: Monday you met with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosensteinn. President Donald Trump: Right. Lester Holt: Did you ask for recommendation? President Donald Trump: What I did is I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not... Lester Holt: You had made the decision before they came... President Donald Trump: I was going to fire Comey. There's no good time to do it, by the way. Lester Holt: Because in your letter, you said, I accepted their recommendation, so you had already made the decision? President Donald Trump: Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.

    President Donald Trump: And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

    Lester Holt: Let me ask you about your termination letter to Mr. Comey. You write, "I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation." Why did you put that in there? President Donald Trump: Because he told me that, I mean he told me... Lester Holt: He told you you weren't under investigation with regard to the Russian investigation? President Donald Trump: I've heard that from others. I think... Lester Holt: Was it in a phone call? Did you meet face to face? President Donald Trump: I had a dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. We had a very nice dinner at the White House. Lester Holt: He asked for the dinner? President Donald Trump: The dinner was arranged, I think he has for the dinner and he wanted to stay on as the FBI head and I said, I'll consider, we'll see what happens. But we had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me, you are not under investigation. Which I knew anyway. Lester Holt: That was one meeting. What were the other two? President Donald Trump: First of all, when you're under investigation, you're giving all sorts of documents and everything. I knew I wasn't under and I heard it was stated at the committee, at some committee level, that I wasn't. Number one. Then during the phone call, he said it and then during another phone call. He said it. So he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice doing phone calls. Lester Holt: Did you call him? President Donald Trump: In one case I called him. In one case he called me. Lester Holt: And did you ask him I under investigation? President Donald Trump: I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it's possible when you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, "You are not under investigation." Lester Holt: But he's, he's given sworn testimony that there was an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government. You were the centerpiece of the Trump campaign, so was he being truthful when he said that you weren't under investigation? President Donald Trump: Well, I know one thing. I know that I'm not under investigation. Me. Personally. I'm not talking about campaigns. I'm not talking about anything else. I'm not under investigation.

    President Donald Trump: He's not my man or not my man. I didn't appoint him. He was appointed long before me.

    President Donald Trump: There was no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians. The other thing is the Russians did not affect the vote and everybody seems to think that.

    Lester Holt: But when you put out tweets, it's a total hoax. It's a taxpayer's charade. And you're looking for a new FBI director. Are you not sending that person a message to lay off? President Donald Trump: No, I'm not doing that. I think that we have to get back to work, but I want to find out, I want to get to the bottom. If Russia hacked, if Russia did anything having to do with our election, I want to know about.

    White House Press Briefing: Sarah Sanders Daily Press Briefing, White House, May 10, 2017.

    Transcript

    Oversight Hearing: FBI Oversight, Senate Judiciary Committee, C-SPAN, May 3, 2017.

    Witness:

    James Comey - FBI Director

    Sound Clips:

    57:19 Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): In October, the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign's connection to Russia. You sent a letter informing the Senate and House that you are reviewing additional emails. It could be relevant to this, but both of those cases are open, but you're still only commented on one. FBI Director James Comey: I commented, as I explained earlier on October 28th in a letter that I sent to the chair and rankings of the oversight committees that we were taking additional steps in the Clinton email investigation because I had testified under oath repeatedly that we were done, that we were finished there. With respect to the Russia investigation, we treated it like we did with the Clinton investigation. We didn't say a word about it until months into it. And then the only thing we've confirmed so far about this is - same thing with the Clinton investigation - that we are investigating and I would expect we're not going to say another peep about it until we're done.

    1:47:32 Sen. Al Franken (MN): Any investigation into whether the Trump campaign or Trump operation colluded with Russian operatives would require a full appreciation of the president's financial dealings. Director Comey, would president Trump's tax returns be material to such an investigation? FBI Director James Comey: That's not something, Senator, I'm going to answer. Sen. Al Franken (MN): Does the investigation have access to President Trump's tax returns? FBI Director James Comey: I have to give you the same answer. Again, I hope people don't over interpret my answers, but I just don't want to start talking about anything...What we're looking at and how.

    2:00:15 FBI Director James Comey: The current investigation with respect to Russia, we've confirmed it. The Department of Justice authorized me to confirm that exists. We're not going to say another word about it until we're done.

    2:11:30 Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): You do confirm that there is still an ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign and their conduct with regard to Russian efforts to undermine our elections? FBI Director James Comey: We're conducting an investigation to understand whether there was any coordination between the Russian efforts and anybody associated with the Trump campaign. Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): So since you've already confirmed that such an investigation is ongoing, can you tell us more about what constitutes that investigation? FBI Director James Comey: No. 2:25:40 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): You have confirmed, I believe that the FBI is investigating potential ties between Trump associates and the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, correct? FBI Director James Comey:Yes. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): And you have not, to my knowledge, ruled out anyone in the Trump campaign as potentially a target of that criminal investigation. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: Well, I haven't said anything publicly about who we've opened investigations on. I've briefed the chair and ranking on who those people are. And so I, I can't, I can't go beyond that in this setting. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Have you ruled out anyone in the campaign that you can disclose? FBI Director James Comey: I don't feel comfortable answering that senator, because I think it puts me on a slope to talking about who we're investigating. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Have you ruled out the president United States? FBI Director James Comey: I don't want people to over-interpret this answer. I'm not going to comment on anyone in particular because that puts me down a slope of... Cause if I say no to that, then I have to answer succeeding questions. So what we've done is brief the chair and ranking on who the U.S. persons are that we've opened investigations on. And that's, that's as far as we're going to go with this point. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): But as a former prosecutor, you know that when there's an investigation into several potentially culpable individuals, the evidence from those individuals and the investigation can lead to others. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: Correct. We're always open minded about, and we follow the evidence wherever it takes us. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): So potentially the President of the United States could be a target of your ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian interference in our election. Correct? FBI Director James Comey: I just worry... I don't want to answer that because it seems to be unfair speculation. We will follow the evidence. We'll try and find as much as we can and we'll follow the evidence where it leads.

    Interview: Interview with President Trump, Fox Business Network, YouTube, April 12, 2017.

    Sound Clip:

    5:30 Maria Bartiromo: Was it a mistake not to ask Jim Comey to step down from the FBI at the outside of your presidency, is it too late now to ask him to step down? President Donald Trump: No, it's not too late. But I have confidence at him, we'll see what happens. It's going to be interesting Interview: Face the Nation interviews Vice-President elect Mike Pence, YouTube, January 15, 2017.

    Transcript

    Sound Clip:

    8:48 John Dickerson: It was reported by David Ignatius that the incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn was in touch with the Russian ambassador on the day the United States government announced sanctions for Russian interference with the election. Did that contact help with that Russian kind of moderate response to it? That there was no counter-reaction from Russia. Did the Flynn conversation help pave the way for that sort of more temperate Russian response? Vice President-elect Mike Pence: I talked to General Flynn about that conversation and actually was initiated on Christmas Day he had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place. It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia. Hearing: Jeff Sessions for Attorney General Confirmation, Senate Judiciary Committee, C-SPAN, January 10, 2017.

    Clip: Jeff Sessions Didn't Disclose 2016 Meetings with Russian Ambassador

    Sound Clips:

    Sen. Al Franken (MN): If there is any evidence that any one affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL): Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn't have not have communications with the Russians and I'm unable to comment on it. Campaign Speech clip: Trump: I could shoot somebody and not lose voters", Iowa Campaign Rally, CNN, January 23, 2016.

    Sound Clips:

    Donald Trump: I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like, incredible. Interview: Trump says Clinton policy on Syria would lead to World War Three, Steve Holland, Reuters, October 25, 2016. National Security Address: Hilary Clinton Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, C-SPAN, November 19, 2015.

    Transcript

    Sound Clip:

    Hillary Clinton: So we need to move simultaneously toward a political solution to the civil war that paves the way for a new government with new leadership and to encourage more Syrians to take on ISIS as well. To support them, we should immediately deploy the special operations force President Obama has already authorized and be prepared to deploy more as more Syrians get into the fight, and we should retool and ramp up our efforts to support and equip viable Syrian opposition units. Our increased support should go hand in hand with increased support from our Arab and European partners, including Special Forces who can contribute to the fight on the ground. We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Video: Gonzalez: Pressured Hospitalized Ashcroft to OK Spying, James Comey Testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee, YouTube, May 15, 2007. Community Suggestions

    See Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • Yemen: Most of us don't know where that is but we Americans have been participating in a war there since 2015. In a surprise move, the 116th Congress recently put a resolution on President Trump's desk that would LIMIT our participation in that war. In this episode, learn about our recent history in Yemen: Why are we involved? When did our involvement start? What do we want from Yemen? And why is Congress suddenly pursuing a change in policy? In the second half of the episode, Jen admits defeat in a project she's been working on and Husband Joe joins Jen for the thank yous.

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    Additional Reading

    Article: Hurricane Michael upgraded to a Category 5 at time of U.S. landfall, NOAA, April 19, 2019.

    Article: US carries out first airstrikes in Yemen in nearly 3 months by Ryan Browne, CNN, April 1, 2019.

    Article: The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi by Joyce Lee and Dalton Bennett, The Washington Post, April 1, 2019.

    Article: Trump revokes Obama rule on reporting drone strike deaths, BBC News, March 7, 2019.

    Article: US carried out 36 airstrikes in Yemen last year by Andrew Kennedy, The Defense Post, January 7, 2019.

    Article: See no evil: Pentagon issues blanket denial that it knows anything about detainee abuse in Yemen by Alex Emmons, The Intercept, January 7, 2019.

    Report: Senate bucks Trump's Saudi approach by Jeff Abramson, Arms Control Association, January/February 2019.

    Article: Saudi strikes, American bombs, Yemeni suffering by Derek Watkins and Declan Walsh, The New York Times, December 27, 2018.

    Article: The wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis got a friend in the White House by David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard, Mark Landler, and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times, December 8, 2018.

    Report: Saudi lobbyists bout 500 nights at Trump's DC hotel after 2016 election by John Bowden, The Hill, December 5, 2018.

    Article: Hidden toll of US drone strikes in Yemen: Nearly a third of deaths are civilians, not al-Quaida by Maggie Michael and Maad al-Zikry, Military Times, November 14, 2018.

    Article: Jamal Khashoggi's friends in Washington are in shock by Scott Nover, The Atlantic, October 12, 2018.

    Report: Catastrophic Hurricane Michael strikes Florida Panhandle, National Weather Service, October 10, 2018.

    Article: Yemen's President Hadi heads to US for medical treatment, Aljazeera, September 3, 2018.

    Article: Bab el-Mandeb, an emerging chokepoint for Middle East oil flows by Julian Lee, Bloomberg, July 26, 2018.

    Report: YEM305: Unknown reported killed, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, March 29, 2018.

    Article: Yemen: Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh killed, Aljazeera, December 10, 2017.

    Article: In Yemen's secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates by Maggie Michael, AP News, June 22, 2017.

    Report: Yemen: UAE backs abusive local forces, Human Rights Watch, June 22, 2017.

    Article: What we know about Saudi Arabia's role in 9/11 by Simon Henderson, Foreign Policy, July 18, 2016.

    Report: Yemen: Background and U.S. relations by Jeremy M. Sharp, Congressional Research Service, February 11, 2015.

    Article: How al Qaeda's biggest enemy took over Yemen (and why the US government is unlikely to support them) by Casey L. Coombs and Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept, January 22, 2015.

    Report: Yemen protests erupt after fuel price doubled, Aljazeera, July 30, 2014.

    Article: U.S. charges saudi for 2002 oil tanker bombing by MAREX, Feburary 6, 2014.

    Report: "Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda": The civilian cost of US targeted killings in Yemen, Human Rights Watch, October 22, 2013.

    Article: Yemen: Opposition leader to be sworn in Saturday by Reuters, The New York Times, December 7, 2011.

    Article: Yemen's Saleh signs deal to give up power by Marwa Rashad, Reuters, November 23, 2011.

    Article: Yemen's leader agrees to end 3-decade rule by Kareem Fahim and Laura Kasinof, The New York Times, November 23, 2011.

    Article: Yemeni president's shock return throws country into confusion by Tom Finn, The Guardian, September 23, 2011.

    Article: Yemen: President Saleh 'was injured by palace bomb', BBC News, June 23, 2011.

    Article: Government in Yemen agrees to talk transition by Laura Kasinof, The New York Times, April 26, 2011.

    Article: Hundreds take to streets in Yemen to protest by Faud Rajeh, The New York Times, February 16, 2011.

    Article: U.S. plays down tensions with Yemen by Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, December 17, 2010.

    Article: Cables depict range of Obama diplomacy by David E. Sanger, The New York Times, December 4, 2010.

    Article: Yemen's drive on Al Qaeda faces international skepticism by Mona El-Naggar and Robert F. Worth, The New York Times, November 3, 2010.

    Article: Op-Ed: The Yemeni state against its own people by Subir Ghosh, Digital Journal, October 11, 2010.

    Roundtable Summary: Reform priorities for Yemen and the 10-Point agenda, MENAP, Chatham House, February 18, 2010.

    Article: As nations meet, Clinton urges Yemen to prove itself worthy of aid by Mark Landler, The New York Times, January 27, 2010.

    Article: After failed attack, Britain turns focus to Yemen by John F. Burns, The New York Times, January 1, 2010.

    Resources

    Congress.gov: S.J.Res.54 - A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress

    Govtrack: S.J.Res. 7: A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by ... Congress

    IMF.org: Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

    Middle East Institute: Addressing the Crisis in Yemen: Strategies and Solutions

    Open Knowledge Repository: Leveraging Fuel Subsidy Reform for Transition in Yemen

    US Dept. of Treasury: International Monetary Fund

    Sound Clip Sources House Proceedings: Yemen Resolution Debate, 116th Congress, April 4, 2019. Congressional Record

    Sound Clips:

    1:06:30 Rep. Michael McCaul (TX):This resolution stretches the definition of war powers hostilities to cover non-U.S. military operations by other countries. Specifically, it reinterprets U.S. support to these countries as ‘‘engagement in hostilities.’’ This radical reinterpretation has implications far beyond Saudi Arabia. This precedent will empower any single Member to use privileged war powers procedures to force congressional referendums that could disrupt U.S. security cooperation agreements with more than 100 countries around the world. 1:14:30 Rep. Barbara Lee (CA): Yes, Madam Speaker, I voted against that 2001 resolution, because I knew it was open-ended and would set the stage for endless wars. It was a blank check. We see this once again today in Yemen. We must repeal this 2001 blank check for endless wars. Over the past 18 years, we have seen the executive branch use this AUMF time and time again. It is a blank check to wage war without congressional oversight. 1:21:30 Rep. Ro Khanna (CA): My motivation for this bill is very simple. I don’t want to see 14 million Yemenis starve to death. That is what Martin Griffith had said at the U.N., that if the Saudis don’t stop their blockade and let food and medicine in, within 6 months we will see one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world. Senate Floor Proceedings: Yemen Resolution Debate, 115th Congress, 2nd Session, December 12, 2018. Congressional Record Pt. 1 Congressional Record Pt. 2

    Sound Clips:

    7:09:00 Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): Finally, an issue that has long been a concern to many of us—conservatives and progressives—is that this war has not been authorized by Congress and is therefore unconstitutional. Article I of the Constitution clearly states it is Congress, not the President, that has the power to send our men and women into war—Congress, not the President. The Framers of our Constitution, the Founders of this country, gave the power to declare war to Congress—the branch most accountable to the people—not to the President, who is often isolated from the reality of what is taking place in our communities. The truth is—and Democratic and Republican Presidents are responsible, and Democratic and Republican Congresses are responsible—that for many years, Congress has not exercised its constitutional responsibility over whether our young men and women go off to war. I think there is growing sentiment all over this country from Republicans, from Democrats, from Independents, from progressives, and from conservatives that right now, Congress cannot continue to abdicate its constitutional responsibility. 7:14:45 Sen. Bob Corker (TN): I have concerns about what this may mean as we set a precedent about refueling and intelligence activities being considered hostilities. I am concerned about that. I think the Senator knows we have operations throughout Northern Africa, where we are working with other governments on intelligence to counter terrorism. We are doing refueling activists in Northern Africa now, and it concerns me—he knows I have concerns—that if we use this vehicle, then we may have 30 or 40 instances where this vehicle might be used to do something that really should not be dealt with by the War Powers Act. 7:49:06 Sen. Todd Young (IN): We don’t have much leverage over the Houthis. We have significant leverage over the Saudis, and we must utilize it. 7:58:30 Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK): The Sanders-Lee resolution is, I think, fundamentally flawed because it presumes we are engaged in military action in Yemen. We are not. We are not engaged in military action in Yemen. There has been a lot of discussion about refueling. I don’t see any stretch of the definition that would say that falls into that category. 8:01:00 Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK): Saudi Arabia is an important Middle Eastern partner. Its stability is vital to the security of our regional allies and our partners, including Israel, and Saudi Arabia is essential to countering Iran. We all know that. We know how tenuous things are in that part of the world. We don’t have that many friends. We can’t afford to lose any of them. 8:04:30 Sen. Chris Murphy (CT): It is important to note some-thing that we take for granted in the region—this now long-term detente that has existed between the Gulf States and Israel, which did not used to be something you could rely on. In fact, one of the most serious foreign policy debates this Senate ever had was on the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia back in the 1980s. The objection then was that by empowering Saudi Arabia, you were hurting Israel and Israeli security. No one would make that argument today because Saudi Arabia has been a good partner in trying to figure out a way to calm the tensions in the region and, of course, provide some balance in the region, with the Iranian regime on the other side continuing to this day to use inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric about the future of Israel. So this is an important partnership, and I have no interest in blowing it up. I have no interest in walking away from it. But you are not obligated to follow your friend into every misadventure they propose. When your buddy jumps into a pool of man-eating sharks, you don’t have to jump with him. There is a point at which you say enough is enough. 8:06:00 Sen. Chris Murphy (CT): Muhammad bin Salman, who is the Crown Prince, who is the effective leader of the country, has steered the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia off the rails. Folks seem to have noticed when he started rounding up his political opponents and killing one of them in a consulate in Turkey, but this has been ongoing. Look back to the kidnapping of the Lebanese Prime Minister, the blockade of Qatar without any heads-up to the United States, the wholesale imprisonment of hundreds of his family members until there was a payoff, the size of which was big enough to let some of them out. This is a foreign policy that is no longer in the best interests of the United States and cannot be papered over by a handful of domestic policy reforms that are, in fact, intended to try to distract us from the aggressive nature of the Saudis’ foreign policy in the region. 8:08:15 Sen. Chris Murphy (CT): I am appreciative that many of my colleagues are willing to stand up for this resolution today to end the war in Yemen. I wish that it weren’t because of the death of one journalist, because there have been tens of thousands who have died inside Yemen, and their lives are just as important and just as worthwhile as Jamal Khashoggi’s life was, as tragic as that was. But there is a connection between the two, which is why I have actually argued that this resolution is in some way, shape, or form a response to the death of Jamal Khashoggi, for those who are primarily concerned with that atrocity. Here is how I link the two: What the Saudis did for 2 weeks was lie to us, right? In the most bald-faced way possible. They told us that Jamal Khashoggi had left the consulate, that he had gotten out of there alive, that they didn’t know what happened, when of course they knew the entire time that they had killed him, that they had murdered him, that they had dismembered his body. We now know that the Crown Prince had multiple contacts all throughout the day with the team of operatives who did it. Yet they thought we were so dumb or so weak— or some combination of the two—that they could just lie to us about it. That was an eye-opener for a lot of people here who were long-term supporters of the Saudi relationship because they knew that we had trouble. They knew that sometimes our interests didn’t align, but they thought that the most important thing allies did with each other was tell the truth, especially when the truth was so easy to discover outside of your bilateral relationship. Then, all of a sudden, the Saudis lied to us for 2 weeks—for 2 weeks—and then finally came around to telling the truth because everybody knew that they weren’t. That made a lot of people here think, well, wait a second—maybe the Saudis haven’t been telling us the truth about what they have been doing inside Yemen. A lot of my friends have been supporting the bombing campaign in Yemen. Why? Because the Saudis said: We are hitting these civilians by accident. Those water treatment plants that have been blowing up—we didn’t mean to hit them. That cholera treatment facility inside the humanitarian compound—that was just a bomb that went into the wrong place, or, we thought there were some bad guys in it. It didn’t turn out that there were. It turns out the Saudis weren’t telling us the truth about what they were doing in Yemen. They were hitting civilian targets on purpose. They did have an intentional campaign of trying to create misery. I am not saying that every single one of those school buses or those hospitals or those churches or weddings was an attempt to kill civilians and civilians only, but we have been in that targeting center long enough to know—to know—that they have known for a long time what they have been doing: hitting a lot of people who have nothing to do with the attacks against Saudi Arabia. Maybe if the Saudis were willing to lie to us about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, they haven’t been straight with us as to what is happening inside Yemen, because if the United States is being used to intentionally hit civilians, then we are complicit in war crimes. And I hate to tell my colleagues that is essentially what the United Nations found in their most recent report on the Saudi bombing campaign. They were careful about their words, but they came to the conclusion that it was likely that the Saudi conduct inside Yemen would amount to war crimes under international law. If it is likely that our ally is perpetuating war crimes in Yemen, then we cannot be a part of that. The United States cannot be part of a bombing campaign that may be—probably is— intentionally making life miserable for the people inside of that country. 8:14:00 Sen. Chris Murphy (CT): There is no relationship in which we are the junior partner—certainly not with Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia can push us around like they have over the course of the last several years and in particular the last several months, that sends a signal to lots of other countries that they can do the same thing—that they can murder U.S. residents and suffer almost no consequences; that they can bomb civilians with our munitions and suffer no consequences. This is not just a message about the Saudi relationship; this is a message about how the United States is going to interact with lots of other junior partners around the world as well. Saudi Arabia needs us a lot more than we need them, and we need to remind folks of that over and over again. Spare me this nonsense that they are going to go start buying Russian jets or Chinese military hardware. If you think those countries can protect you better than the United States, take a chance. You think the Saudis are really going to stop selling oil to the United States? You think they are going to walk away from their primary bread winner just because we say that we don’t want to be engaged in this particular military campaign? I am willing to take that chance. We are the major partner in this relationship, and it is time that we start acting like it. If this administration isn’t going to act like it, then this Congress has to act like it. 8:44:15 Sen. Mike Lee (UT): Many of my colleagues will argue—in fact some of them have argued just within the last few minutes—that we are somehow not involved in a war in Yemen. My distinguished friend and colleague, the Senator from Oklahoma, came to the floor a little while ago, and he said that we are not engaged in direct military action in Yemen. Let’s peel that back for a minute. Let’s figure out what that means. I am not sure what the distinction between direct and indirect is here. Maybe in a very technical sense—or under a definition of warfare or military action that has long since been rendered out- dated—we are not involved in that, but we are involved in a war. We are co-belligerents. The minute we start identifying targets or, as Secretary James Mattis put it about a year ago, in December 2017, the minute we are involved in the decisions involving making sure that they know the right stuff to hit, that is involvement in a war, and that is pretty direct. The minute we send up U.S. military aircraft to provide midair refueling assistance for Saudi jets en route to bombing missions, to combat missions on the ground in Yemen, that is our direct involvement in war. 8:48:00 Sen. Mike Lee (UT): Increasingly these days, our wars are high-tech. Very often, our wars involve cyber activities. They involve reconnaissance, surveillance, target selection, midair refueling. It is hard—in many cases, impossible—to fight a war without those things. That is what war is. Many of my colleagues, in arguing that we are not involved in hostilities, rely on a memorandum that is internal within the executive branch of the U.S. Government that was issued in 1976 that provides a very narrow, unreasonably slim definition of the word ‘‘hostilities.’’ It defines ‘‘hostilities’’ in a way that might have been relevant, that might have been accurate, perhaps, in the mid-19th century, but we no longer live in a world in which you have a war as understood by two competing countries that are lined up on opposite sides of a battlefield and engaged in direct exchanges of fire, one against another, at relatively short range. War encompasses a lot more than that. War certainly encompasses midair refueling, target selection, surveillance, and reconnaissance of the sort we are undertaking in Yemen. Moreover, separate and apart from this very narrow, unreasonably slim definition of ‘‘hostilities’’ as deter- mined by this internal executive branch document from 1976 that contains the outdated definition, we our- selves, under the War Powers Act, don’t have to technically be involved in hostilities. It is triggered so long as we ourselves are sufficiently involved with the armed forces of another nation when those armed forces of another nation are themselves involved in hostilities. I am speaking, of course, in reference to the War Powers Act’s pro- visions codified at 50 USC 1547(c). For our purposes here, it is important to keep in mind what that provisions reads: ‘‘For purposes of this chapter [under the War Powers Act], the term ‘introduction of United States Armed Forces’ includes the assignment of members of such Armed Forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities.’’ In what sense, on what level, on what planet are we not involved in the commanding, in the coordination, in the participation, in the movement of or in the accompaniment of the armed forces of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the civil war in Yemen? 9:57:15 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): In March of this year, I led a letter to the Department of Defense with my colleague Senator JACK REED of Rhode Island, along with many of our colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee, stating our concern regarding U.S. support for Saudi military operations against the Houthis in Yemen and asking about the DOD’s involvement, apparently without appropriate notification of Congress, and its agreements to provide refueling sup- port to the Saudis and the Saudi coalition partners. We were concerned that the DOD had not appropriately documented reimbursements for aerial re- fueling support provided by the United States. Eight months later—just days ago— the Department of Defense responded to our letter and admitted that it has failed to appropriately notify Congress of its support agreements; it has failed to adequately charge Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for fuel and refueling assistance. That admission 8 months after our inquiry is a damning indictment. These errors in accounting mean that the United States was directly funding the Saudi war in Yemen. It has been doing it since March of 2015. Video: Trump: Khashoggi case will not stop $110bn US-Saudi arms trade, The Guardian, October 12, 2018. Donald Trump: I would not be in favor of stopping from spending $110 billion, which is an all-time record, and letting Russia have that money, and letting China have that money. Because all their going to do is say, that's okay, we don't have to buy it from Boeing, we don't have to buy it from Lockheed, we don't have to buy it from Ratheon and all these great companies. We'll buy it from Russia and we'll buy it from China. So what good does that do us? Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Middle East, House Foreign Affairs Committee, C-SPAN, April 18, 2018.

    Witnesses:

    David Satterfield: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Wess Mitchell: Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

    Sound Clips:

    18:00 David Satterfield: We all agree, as does the Congress, that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is unacceptable. Last month, the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided $1 billion to Yemen's humanitarian response appeal, and this complements the US government pledge of $87 million and more than $854 million contributed since beginning of fiscal year 2017.

    19:45 Wess Mitchell: Turkey is a 66 year member of the NATO alliance and member of the defeat ISIS coalition. It has suffered more casualties from terrorism than any other ally and hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees. It supports the coalition through the use of Incirlik air base through its commitment of Turkish military forces against Isis on the ground in (Dibick? al-Bab?) And through close intelligence cooperation with the United States and other allies. Turkey has publicly committed to a political resolution in Syria that accords with UN Security Council. Resolution 2254. Turkey has a vested strategic interest in checking the spread of Iranian influence and in having a safe and stable border with Syria. Despite these shared interests, Turkey lately has increased its engagement with Russia and Iran. Ankara has sought to assure us that it sees this cooperation as a necessary stepping stone towards progress in the Geneva process, but the ease with which Turkey brokered arrangements with the Russian military to facilitate the launch of its Operation Olive Branch in Afrin district, arrangements to which America was not privy, is gravely concerning. Ankara claims to have agreed to purchase, to, to purchase the Russian S 400 missile system, which could potentially lead to sanctions under section 231 of CAATSA and adversely impact Turkey's participation in the F-35 program. It is in the American national interest to see Turkey remains strategically and politically aligned with the west.

    Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Yemen, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, C-SPAN, April 17, 2018.

    Witnesses:

    Robert Jenkins: Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, & Humanitarian Assistance David Satterfield: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Robert Karem: Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Affairs Nominee and former Middle East Adviser to Vice President Cheney

    Sound Clips:

    9:30 Chairman Bob Corker (TN): Well, Yemen has always faced significant socioeconomic challenges. A civil war, which began with the Houthis armed takeover of much of the country in 2014 and their overthrow of Yemen's legitimate government in January 2015, has plunged the country into humanitarian crisis.

    17:25 Chairman Bob Corker (TN): Our first witness is acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, Ambassador David Satterfield. Ambassador Satterfield is one of the most distinguished, one of our most distinguished diplomats. He most recently served as director general, the multinational force and observers in the Sinai peninsula and previously served as US Abassador to Lebanon.

    17:45 Chairman Bob Corker (TN): Our second witness is Robert Jenkins, who serves as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for USA ID Bureau for Democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance. Mr. Jenkins, recently mark 20 years at USAID and previously served as the Director of Office of Transition Initiatives.

    18:15 Chairman Bob Corker (TN): Our third witness is Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Robert Kerem. Prior to his Senate confirmation last year, Mr. Karem served as National Security of Staff of Vice President Cheney and then as National Security Advisor to the House, majority leader's Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy.

    20:15 David Satterfield: US military support serves a clear and strategic purpose to reinforce Saudi and Mrid self defense in the face of intensifying Houthi and Iranian enabled threats and to expand the capability of our Gulf partners to push back against Iran's regionally destabilizing actions. This support in turn provides the United States access and influence to help press for a political solution to the conflict. Should we curtail US military support? The Saudis could well pursue defense relationships with countries that have no interest in either ending the humanitarian crisis, minimizing civilian casualties or assisting and facilitating progress towards a political solution. Critical US access to support for our own campaign against violent extremists could be placed in jeopardy.

    30:00 Robert Karem: Conflict in Yemen affects regional security across the Middle East, uh, and threatens US national security interests, including the free flow of commerce and the Red Sea. Just this month, the Houthi, his attack to Saudi oil tanker and the Red Sea threatening commercial shipping and freedom of navigation and the world's fourth busiest maritime choke point, the Bab el Mandeb.

    32:00 Robert Karem: The Defense Department is currently engaged in two lines of effort in Yemen. Our first line of effort and our priority is the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS in Yemen, two terrorist organizations that directly threaten the United States, our allies and our partners. To combat AQIP, AQAP, and ISIS, US forces in coordination with the UN recognized government of Yemen are supporting our regional key counter terrorism partners in ongoing operations to disrupt and degrade their ability to coordinate, plot and recruit for external terrorist operations. Additionally, US military forces are conducting airstrikes against AQAP and ISIS in Yemen pursuant to the 2001 a authorization for the use of military force to disrupt and destroy terrorist network networks. Our second line of effort is the provision of limited noncombat support to the Saudi led coalition in support of the UN recognized government of Yemen. The support began in 2015 under President Obama and in 2017 president Trump reaffirmed America's commitment to our partners in these efforts. Fewer than 50 US military personnel work in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi led coalition advising and assisting with the defense of Saudi territory, sharing intelligence and providing logistical support, including aerial refueling.

    35:45 Sen. Ben Cardin (MD): Mr. Karem. I'm gonna Start with you. Um, in regards to the US military assistance that we give to the kingdom, you said that is to embolden their capacity and to reduce noncombatant casualties. Last March, the CENTCOM commander General Votel stated that the United States government does not track the end results of the coalition missions. It refills and supports with targeting assistance. So my question to you is, how do you determine that we are effectively reducing the non combatant casualties if we don't in fact track the results of the kingdoms military actions? Robert Karem: Senator, thank you. Um, it's correct that we do not monitor and track all of the Saudi aircraft, um, uh, a loft over Yemen. Uh, we have limited personnel and assets in order to do that. Uh, and CENTCOM's focus is obviously been on our own operations in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Syria. Sen. Ben Cardin (MD): I understand that, but my question is, our stated mission is to reduce noncombat and casualties. If we don't track, how do we determine that? Robert Karem: So I think one of our stated missions is precisely that. Um, there are multiple ways that I think we do have insight into, uh, Saudi, uh, targeting behavior. Um, we have helped them with their processes. Um, we have seen them implement a no strike list. Um, and we have seen their, their, their uh, capabilities, uh, improved. So the information is based upon what the Saudis tell you, how they're conducting the mission rather than the after impact of the mission. I think our military officers who are resident in Saudi Arabia are seeing how the Saudis approach, uh, this, this effort that took getting effort. Sen. Ben Cardin (MD): But you know, obviously the proof is in the results and we don't know whether the results are, there are not fair statement. Robert Karem: I think we do see a difference in how the Saudis have operated in Yemen, how they operate. Sen. Ben Cardin (MD): I understand how they operate but we don't know whether in fact that's been effective. The United Nations Security Council panel of experts on Yemen concluded in recent reports that the cumulative effect of these airstrikes on civilian infrastructure demonstrates that even with precaution, cautionary measures were taken, they were largely inadequate and ineffective. Do you have any information that disagrees with that assessment? Robert Karem: Senator, I think the assessment of, uh, our central command is that the Saudi, uh, and Emirati targeting efforts, uh, have improved, um, uh, with the steps that they've taken. We do not have perfect understanding because we're not using all of our assets to monitor their aircraft, but we do get reporting from the ground on what taking place inside Yemen.

    40:15 Sen. Rand Paul (KY): Ambassador Satterfield. I guess some people when they think about our strategy might question the idea of our strategy. You know, if your son was shooting off his pistol in the back yard and doing it indiscriminately and endangering the neighbors, would you give hmi more bullets or less? And we see the Saudis acting in an indiscriminate manner. They've bombed a funeral processions, they've killed a lot of civilians. And so our strategy is to give them more bombs, not less. And we say, well, if we don't give him the bomb, somebody else will. And that's sort of this global strategy, uh, that many in the bipartisan foreign policy consensus have. We have to, we have to always be involved. We always have to provide weapons or someone else will and they'll act even worse. But there's a, I guess a lot of examples that doesn't seem to be improving their behavior. Um, you could argue it's marginally better since we've been giving them more weapons, but it seems the opposite of logic. You would think you would give people less where you might withhold aid or withhold a assistance to the Saudis to get them to behave. But we do sort of the opposite. We give them more aid. What would your response be to that? David Satterfield: Senator, when I noted in my remarks that progress had been made on this issue of targeting, minimizing or mitigating civilian casualties, that phrase was carefully chosen into elaborate further on, uh, my colleagues remarks, uh, Robert Karem. We do work with the Saudis and have, particularly over the last six to nine months worked intensively on the types of munitions the Saudis are using, how they're using, how to discriminate target sets, how to assure through increased loiter time by aircraft that the targets sought are indeed clear of collateral or civilian damage. This is new. This is not the type of interaction… Sen. Rand Paul (KY): And yet the overall situation in Yemen is a, is a disaster. David Satterfield: The overall situation is extremely bad. Senator. Sen. Rand Paul (KY): I guess that's really my question. We had to rethink...And I think from a common sense point of view, a lot of people would question giving people who misbehave more weapons instead of giving them less on another question, which I think is a broad question about, you know, what we're doing in the Middle East in general. Um, you admitted that there's not really a military solution in Yemen. Most people say it's going to be a political solution. The Houthis will still remain. We're not going to have Hiroshima. We're not going to have unconditional surrender and the good guys win and the bad guys are vanquished. Same with Syria. Most people have said for years, both the Obama administration and this administration, probably even the Bush administration, the situation will probably be a political solution. They will no longer, it's not going to be complete vanquished meant of the enemy. We're also saying that in Afghanistan, and I guess my point as I think about that is I think about the recruiter at the station in Omaha, Nebraska, trying to get somebody to sign up for the military and saying, please join. We're going to send you to three different wars where there is no military solution. We're hoping to make it maybe a little bit better. I think back to Vietnam. Oh, we're going to take one more village. If we take one more village, they're going to negotiate and we get a little better negotiation. I just can't see sending our young men and women to die for that for one more village. You know the Taliban 40% in Afghanistan. Where are we going to get when they get to 30% don't negotiate and when we it, it'll be, it'll have been worth it for the people who have to go in and die and take those villages. I don't think it's one more life. I don't think it's worth one more life. The war in Yemen is not hard. We talk all about the Iranians have launched hundreds of missiles. Well, yeah, and the Saudis have launched 16,000 attacks. Who started it? It's a little bit murky back and forth. The, the Houthis may have started taking over their government, but that was a civil war. Now we're involved in who are the good guys of the Saudis, the good guys or the others, the bad guys. Thousands of civilians are dying. 17 million people live on the edge of starvation. I think we need to rethink whether or not military intervention supplying the Saudis with weapons, whether all of this makes any sense at all or whether we've made the situation worse. I mean, humanitarian crisis, we're talking about, oh, we're going to give my, the Saudis are giving them money and I'm like, okay, so we dropped, we bomb the crap out of them in this audience. Give them $1 billion. Maybe we could bomb last maybe part of the humanitarian answers, supplying less weapons to a war. There's a huge arms race going on. Why do the Iranians do what they do? They're evil. Or maybe they're responding to the Saudis who responded first, who started it? Where did the arms race start? But we sell $300 billion a weapons to Saudi Arabia. What are the Iranians going to do? They react. It's action and reaction throughout the Middle East. And so we paint the Iranians as the, you know, these evil monsters. And we just have to correct evil monster. But the world's a much more complicated place back and forth. And I, all I would ask is that we try to get outside our mindset that we, uh, what we're doing is working because I think what we're doing hasn't worked, and we've made a lot of things worse. And we're partly responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

    48:30 David Satterfield: The political picture on the ground in Yemen has changed radically with the death, the killing of a Ali Abdullah Saleh, uh, with the fragmentation of the General People's Congress. All of that, while tragic in many of its dimensions, has provided a certain reshuffling of the deck that may, we hope, allow the United Nations to be more effective in its efforts.

    1:05:45 Sen. Todd Young (IN): Approximately how many people, Mr. Jenkins require humanitarian assistance in Yemen? David Jenkins: 22 million people. Sen. Todd Young (IN): What percent of the population is that? David Jenkins: Approximately 75% was the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance increase from last year. It increased by our, we're estimating 3.5 million people. Sen. Todd Young (IN): And how much has it increased? David Jenkins: About 3.5 million people. Sen. Todd Young (IN): Okay. How many are severely food insecure? David Jenkins: 17.8 million. Sen. Todd Young (IN): How many children are severely malnourished? David Jenkins: 460,000 Sen. Todd Young (IN): How many people lack access to clean water and working toilets? David Jenkins: We estimate it to be around 16 million people. Sen. Todd Young (IN): Does Yemen face the largest cholera outbreak in the world? David Jenkins: It does. Sen. Todd Young (IN): How many cholera cases have we seen in Yemen? David Jenkins: A suspected over a 1 million cases. Sen. Todd Young (IN): And how many lives has that cholera outbreak claim? David Jenkins: Almost 2100.

    1:46:00 Robert Jenkins: I do know that the vast majority of people within that, the majority of people in need, and that 22 million number live in the northern part of the country that are accessible best and easiest by Hodeidah port, there is no way to take Hodeidah out of the equation and get anywhere near the amount of humanitarian and more importantly, even commercial goods into the country.

    Hearing: Violence in Yemen, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North America, C-SPAN, April 14, 2015.

    Witnesses:

    Gerald Feierstein: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Former Ambassador to Yemen (2010-2013)

    Sound Clips:

    1:45 Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (FL): On September 10th of last year, President Obama announced to the American public his plan to degrade and destroy the terrorist group ISIL. While making his case for America's role in the fight against ISIL, the president highlighted our strategy in Yemen and held it up as a model of success to be emulated in the fight against ISIL. Yet about a week later, the Iran backed Houthis seized control of the capital and the government. Despite this, the administration continued to hail our counter-terror operations in Yemen as a model for success, even though we effectively had no partner on the ground since President Hadi was forced to flee. But perhaps even more astonishingly in what can only be described as an alarmingly tone deaf and short sighted, when Press Secretary Ernest was asked at a press briefing if this model was still successful after the Yemeni central government collapsed and the US withdrew all of our personnel including our special forces, he said yes, despite all indications pointing to the contrary. So where do we stand now? That's the important question. President Hadi was forced to flee. Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of over 10 Arab nations and Operation Decisive Storm, which so far has consisted of airstrikes only, but very well could include ground forces in the near future.

    4:45 Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (FL): Iran has reportedly dispatched a naval destroyer near Yemen in a game of chicken over one of the most important shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden. This area is a gateway between Europe and the Middle East and ran was not be allowed to escalate any tensions nor attempt to disrupt the shipping lanes.

    13:30 Rep. David Cicilline (NJ): I think it's safe to say that the quick deterioration of the situation in Yemen took many people here in Washington by surprise. For many years, Yemen was held up as an example of counter-terrorism cooperation and it looked as if a political agreement might be achieved in the aftermath of the Arab spring. The United States poured approximately $900 million in foreign aid to Yemen since the transition in 2011 to support counter-terrorism, political reconciliation, the economy and humanitarian aid. Now we face a vastly different landscape and have to revise our assumptions and expectations. Furthermore, we risk being drawn deeply into another Iranian backed armed conflict in the Middle East.

    17:30 Rep. Ted Deutch (FL): Following the deposition of Yemen's longtime autocratic Saleh in 2011, the US supported an inclusive transition process. We had national dialogue aimed at rebuilding the country's political and governmental institutions and bridging gaps between groups that have had a long history of conflict. Yemen's first newly elected leader, President Hadi made clear his intentions to cooperate closely with the United States.

    18:00 Rep. Ted Deutch (FL): Yemen, the poorest country on the peninsula, needed support from the international community. The United States has long viewed Yemen as a safe haven for all Qaeda terrorists, and there was alarming potential for recruitment by terrorist groups given the dire economic conditions that they faced. In fact, the US Department of Homeland Security considers al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate, most likely the al Qaeda affiliate, most likely to attempt transnational attacks against the United States.

    18:30 Rep. Ted Deutch (FL): While the national dialogue was initially viewed as successful, the process concluded in 2014 with several key reforms still not completed, including the drafting of the new constitution. The Hadi government had continued to face deep opposition from Yemen's northern tribes, mainly the Shiite Iranian backed Houthi rebels, over the past year. The Houthis, in coordination with tribes and military units still loyal to Saleh, began increasing their territorial control, eventually moving in to Sanaa. Saleh had long been thought to have used his existing relationship to undermine the Hadi government. Houthis are well trained, well funded, and experienced fighters, having fought the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia in 2009.

    23:15 Gerald Feierstein: I greatly appreciate this opportunity to come before you today to review recent developments in Yemen and the efforts that the United States is undertaking to support the government of Yemen under president Rabu Mansour Hadi and the Saudi led coalition of Operation Decisive Storm, that is aimed at restoring the legitimate government and restarting the negotiations to find peaceful political solutions to Yemen's internal conflict.

    26:45 Gerald Feierstein: To the best of our understanding, the Houthis are not controlled directly by Iran. However, we have seen in recent years, significant growth and expansion of Iranian engagement with the Houthis. We believe that Iran sees opportunities with the Houthis to expand its influence in Yemen and threatened Saudi and Gulf Arab interests. Iran provides financial support, weapons training, and intelligence of the Houthis and the weeks and months since the Houthis entered Sanaa and forced the legitimate government first to resign and ultimately to flee from the capitol, we have seen a significant expansion of Iranian involvement in Yemen's domestic affairs.

    27:30 Gerald Feierstein: We are also particularly concerned about the ongoing destabilizing role played by former President Saleh, who since his removal from power in 2011 has actively plotted to undermine President Hadi and the political transition process. Despite UN sanctions and international condemnation of his actions, Saleh continues to be one of the primary sources of the chaos in Yemen. We have been working with our Gulf partners and the international community to isolate him and prevent the continuation of his efforts to undermine the peaceful transition. Success in that effort will go a long way to helping Yemen return to a credible political transition process.

    42:00 Gerald Feierstein: From our perspective, I would say that that Yemen is a unique situation for the Saudis. This is on their border. It represents a threat in a way that no other situation would represent.

    52:30 Gerald Feierstein: I mean, obviously our hope would be that if we can get the situation stabilized and get the political process going again, that we would be able to return and that we would be able to continue implementing the kinds of programs that we were trying to achieve that are aimed at economic growth and development as well as supporting a democratic governance and the opportunity to try to build solid political foundations for the society. At this particular moment, we can't do that, but it's hard to predict where we might be in six months or nine months from now.

    1:10:00 Gerald Feierstein: When the political crisis came in Yemen in 2011, AQAP was able to take advantage of that and increase its territorial control, to the extent that they were actually declaring areas of the country to be an Islamic caliphate, not unlike what we see with ISIL in Iraq and Syria these days. Because of our cooperation, primarily our cooperation with the Yemeni security forces, uh, we were able to, uh, to defeat that, uh, at a significant loss of a life for AQAP. Uh, as a result of that, they changed their tactics. They went back to being a more traditional terrorist organization. They were able to attack locations inside of, uh, inside of Sanaa and and elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is that, uh, that we, uh, were achieving a progress in our ability to pressure them, uh, and, uh, to keep them on the defensive as opposed to giving them lots of time. And remember in 2009 in 2010, uh, we saw AQAP mount a fairly serious efforts - the underwear bomber and then also the cassette tape effort to attack the United States. After 2010, uh, they were not able to do that, uh, despite the fact that their intent was still as clear and as strong as it was before. And so a while AQAP was by no means defeated and continue to be a major threat to security here in the United States as well as in Yemen and elsewhere around the world, nevertheless, I think that it was legitimate to say that we had achieved some success in the fight against AQAP. Unfortunately what we're seeing now because of the change in the situation again, inside of Yemen, uh, is that we're losing some of the gains that we were able to make, uh, during that period of 2012 to 2014. That's why it's so important that we, uh, have, uh, the ability to get the political negotiation started again, so that we can re-establish legitimate government inside of Sanaa that will cooperate with us once again in this fight against violent extremist organizations.

    1:16:45 Rep. Ted Yoho (FL): How can we be that far off? And I know you explained the counter-terrorism portion, but yet to have a country taken over while we're sitting there working with them and this happens. I feel, you know, it just kinda happened overnight the way our embassy got run out of town and just says, you have to leave. Your marines cannot take their weapons with them. I, I just, I don't understand how that happens or how we can be that disconnected. Um, what are your thoughts on that? Gerald Feierstein: You know, it was very, it was very frustrating. Again, I think that, if you go back to where we were a year ago, the successful conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference, which was really the last major hurdle and completion of the GCC initiative, Houthis participated in that. They participated in the constitutional drafting exercise, which was completed successfully. Uh, and so we were in the process of moving through all of the requirements of the GCC initiative that would allow us to complete successfully the political transition. I think there were a combination of things. One, that there was a view on the part of the Houthis that they were not getting everything that they wanted. They were provoked, in our view, by Ali Abdullah Saleh, who never stopped plotting from the very first day after he signed the agreement on the GCC initiative. He never stopped plotting to try to block the political transition, and there was, to be frank, there was a weakness in the government and an inability on the part of the government to really build the kind of alliances and coalition that would allow them to sustain popular support and to bring this to a successful conclusion. And so I think that all through this period there was a sense that we were moving forward and that we believed that we could succeed in implementing this peaceful transition. And yet we always knew that on the margins there were threats and there were risks, and unfortunately we got to a point where the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh, my personal view is that they recognized that they had reached the last possible moment, where they could obstruct the peaceful political transition that was bad for them because it would mean that they wouldn't get everything that they wanted, and so they saw that time was running out for them, and they decided to act. And unfortunately, the government was unable to stop them.

    Hearing: Targeted Killing of Terrorist Suspects Overseas, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, C-SPAN, April 23, 2013.

    Sound Clips:

    44:30 Farea al-Muslimi: My name as you mentioned, is Farea al-Muslimi, and I am from Wessab, a remote village mountain in Yemen. I spent a year living with an American family and attended an American high school. That was one of the best years of my life. I learned about American culture, managed the school basketball team and participated in trick or treat and Halloween. But the most exceptional was coming to know someone who ended up being like a father to me. He was a member of the U S Air Force and most of my year was spent with him and his family. He came to the mosque with me and I went to church with him and he became my best friend in America. I went to the U.S. as an ambassador for Yemen and I came back to Yemen as an ambassador of the U.S. I could never have imagined that the same hand that changed my life and took it from miserable to a promising one would also drone my village. My understanding is that a man named Hamid al-Radmi was the target of the drone strike. Many people in Wessab know al-Radmi, and the Yemeni government could easily have found and arrested him. al-Radmi was well known to government officials and even local government could have captured him if the U.S. had told them to do so. In the past, what Wessab's villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences had. The friendships and values I experienced and described to the villagers helped them understand the America that I know and that I love. Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads ready to fire missiles at any time. What violent militants had previously failed to achieve one drone strike accomplished in an instant.

    1:17:30 Farea al-Muslimi: I think the main difference between this is it adds into Al Qaeda propaganda of that Yemen is a war with the United States. The problem of Al Qaeda, if you look to the war in Yemen, it's a war of mistakes. The less mistake you make, the more you win, and the drones have simply made more mistakes than AQAP has ever done in the matter of civilians.

    News Report: Untold Stories of the underwear bomber: what really happened, ABC News 7 Detroit, September 27, 2012. Part 1 Part 2 Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Yemen, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, C-SPAN, July 19, 2011.

    Witnesses:

    Janet Sanderson: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Daniel Benjamin: State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator

    Sound Clips:

    21:00 Janet Sanderson: The United States continues its regular engagement with the government, including with President Ali, Abdullah Saleh, who's currently, as you know, recovering in Saudi Arabia from his injuries following the June 3rd attack on his compound, the acting president, Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the opposition, civil society activists, and others interested in Yemen's future. We strongly support the Gulf Cooperation Council's initiative, which we believe would lead to a peaceful and orderly political transition. The GCC initiative signed by both the ruling General People's Congress party and the opposition coalition, joint meeting parties. Only president Saleh is blocking the agreement moving forward and we continue to call on him to sign the initiative.

    22:30 Janet Sanderson: While most protests in Yemen have been peaceful over the last couple of months, there have been violent clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators and between protesters and government security forces and irregular elements using forced to break up demonstrations. The United States is strongly urged the Yemeni government to investigate and prosecute all acts of violence against protesters.

    27:00 Janet Sanderson: We strongly believe that a transition is necessary, that an orderly, peaceful transition is the only way to begin to lead Yemen out of the crisis that it has been in for the last few months.

    34:30 Daniel Benjamin: Really, I just want to echo what ambassador Sanderson said. It is vitally important that the transition take place.

    1:02:15 Daniel Benjamin: The the view from the administration, particularly from a DOD, which is doing of course, the lion's share of the training, although State Department through anti-terrorism training is doing, uh, uh, a good deal as well, is that the Yemenis are, uh, improving their capacities, that they are making good progress towards, uh, being, able to deal with the threats within their border. But it is important to recognize that, uh, uh, our engagement in Yemen was interrupted for many years. Uh, Yemen, uh, did not have the kind of mentoring programs, the kind of training programs that many of our other counter-terrorism partners had. Um, it was really when the Obama administration came into office that a review was done, uh, in, in March of, uh, beginning in March of 2009, it was recognized that Yemen was a major challenge in the world of counter terrorism. And it was not until, uh, December after many conversations with the Yemenis that we really felt that they were on-board with the project and in fact took their first actions against AQAP. This, as you may recall, was just shortly before the attempted, uh, December 25th bombing of the northwest flight. So this is a military and a set of, uh, Ministry of Interior that is civilian, uh, units that are making good progress, but obviously have a lot to learn. So, uh, again, vitally important that we get back to the work of training these units so that they can, uh, take on the missions they need to.

    Press Conference: Yemen Conference, C-SPAN, January 27, 2010.

    Speakers:

    David Miliband - British Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton - Secretary of State Abu Bakr al-Kurbi - Yemeni Foreign Minister

    Sound Clips:

    3:30 David Miliband: And working closely with the government of Yemen, we decided that our agenda needed to cover agreement on the nature of the problem and then address the, uh, solutions across the economic, social, and political terrain. Five key items were agreed at the meeting for the way in which the international community can support progress in Yemen. First, confirmation by the government of Yemen, that it will continue to pursue its reform agenda and agreement to start discussion of an IMF program. The director of the IMF represented at the meeting made a compelling case for the way in which economic reform could be supported by the IMF. This is important because it will provide welcome support and help the government of Yemen confront its immediate challenges.

    11:45 Hillary Clinton: The United States just signed a three year umbrella assistance agreement with the government of Yemen that will augment Yemen's capacity to make progress. This package includes initiatives that will cover a range of programs, but the overarching goal of our work is to increase the capacity and governance of Yemen and give the people of Yemen the opportunity to better make choices in their own lives. President Saleh has outlined a 10 point plan for economic reform along with the country's national reform agenda. Those are encouraging signs of progress. Neither, however, will mean much if they are not implemented. So we expect Yemen to enact reforms, continue to combat corruption, and improve the country's investment in business climate.

    15:45 Abu Bakr al-Kurbi: This commitment also stems from our belief that the challenges we are facing now cannot be remedied unless we implement this agenda of reforms and the 10 points that her exellency alluded to because this is now a priority number of issues that we have to start with, and I hope this is what will be one of the outcomes of this meeting.

    16:30 Hillary Clinton: One of the factors that's new is the IMF's involvement and commitment. the IMF has come forward with a reform agenda that the government of Yemen has agreed to work on.

    24:30 Hillary Clinton: We were pleased by the announcement of a cease fire, um, between the Saudis and the Houthis. That should lead, we hope, to broader negotiations and a political dialogue that might lead to a permanent, uh, end to the conflict in the north. It's too soon to tell.

    The Daily Show with John Stewart: Terror 2.0 by Yemen - Sad Libs, CC.com, January 6, 2010. The Daily Show with John Stewart: Terror 2.0 by Yemen, CC.com, January 4, 2010. Community Suggestions

    See Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • Measles is back in the United States and is currently spreading quickly; the number of cases in the United States in 2019 has already surpassed the number of cases in all of last year. In this episode, get highlights from two Congressional hearings addressing the measles outbreak, which answered a lot of questions about the dangers of the disease, what is causing the outbreak, what is being done about it by the government, and what we can do to help.

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    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD190: A Coup for Capitalism Additional Reading

    Article: New York City vaccination order shines spotlight on insular Jewish community by Lenny Bernstein, Lena H. Sun, and Gabrielle Paluch, The Washington Post, April 11, 2019.

    Tweet: Congratulations to Netanyahu from Rep. Jeff Duncan, April 11, 2019.

    Article: 78 new measles cases reported nationwide since last week, CDC says by Debra Goldschmidt, CNN, April 8, 2019.

    Article: More Americans have gotten measles this year than in 2018 - and it's only April by Sara Chodosh, Popular Science, April 8, 2019.

    Article: Australia ramps up measles warnings as cases jump, Yahoo News, April 7, 2019.

    Article: Judge lifts Rockland's measles emergency order banning unvaccinated children from public by Jenna DeAngelis, CBS Local New York, April 5, 2019.

    Article: In three months, US measles cases surpass 2018 numbers by Carolyn Wilke, The Scientist, April 2, 2019.

    Article: The measles virus was down and out. Now it's primed for a comeback by Helen Branswell, Stat News, March 26, 2019.

    Article: Footage contradicts U.S. claim that Nicolas Maduro burned aid convoy by Nicholas Casey, Christoph Koettl, and Deborah Acosta, The New York Times, March 10, 2019.

    Article: Measles cases mount in Pacific northwest outbreak by Jonathan Lambert, NPR, February 8, 2019.

    Article: Measles cases at highest for 20 years in Europe, as anti-vaccine movement grows by Sarah Boseley, The Guardian, December 21, 2018.

    Article: Vitamin A: Benefits, deficiency, toxicity and more by Jillian Kubala, Healthline, October 4, 2018.

    Article: Vitamin A protects against measles: Top Doctor by Sylvia Booth Hubbard, Newsmax Health, February 3, 2015.

    Research Article: Measles-induced encephalitis by D.L. Fisher, S. Defres, and T. Solomon, QJM International Journal of Medicine, May 26, 2014.

    Research Article: Measles inclusion-body encephalitis caused by the vaccine strain of measles virus by A. Bitnun, P. Shannon, A. Durward, P.A. Rota, W.J.Bellini, C. Graham, E. Wang, E.L. Ford-Jones, P. Cox, L. Becker, M. Fearon, M. Petric, and R. Tellier, PubMed, October 29, 1999.

    Resources

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Safety

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Measles (Rubeola): Transmission

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccine Information Statements (VISs)

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccine Safety: Autism

    Health Resources & Services Administration: HRSA Data and Statistics: Vaccine Compensation

    National Institute of Health: Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID Director

    Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): Table of Reportable Events Following Vaccination

    Washington State Department of Health: Measles Outbreak 2019

    Website: generationrescue.org

    Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Senate.gov, March 5, 2019. C-SPAN

    Witnesses:

    Dr. John Wiesman: Secretary of Health for Washington State Jonathan A. McCullers, MD: Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Pediatrician-in-Chief, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, Memphis, TN Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD: William H. Foege Professor Of Global Health Professor of Epidemiology & Pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA John G. Boyle, President And CEO: Immune Deficiency Foundation, Towson, MD Ethan Lindenberger: Student, Norwalk High School, Norwalk, OH

    Sound Clips:

    20:00 Dr. John Wiesman: As of yesterday, Washington State's measles outbreak had 71 cases plus four cases associated with our outbreak in Oregon and one in Georgia. Containing a measles outbreak takes a whole community response led by governmental public health. The moment they suspected cases reported, disease investigators interviewed that person to determine when they were infectious, who they were in close contact with and what public spaces they visited. If still infectious, the health officer orders them to isolate themselves so they don't infect others, notifies the public and the about the community about the public places that they were in when they are infectious and stands up a call center to handle questions. We also reach out to individuals who were in close contact with the patient. If they are unvaccinated and without symptoms, we ask them to quarantine themselves for up to 21 days. That's how long it can take to develop symptoms and we monitor them so that we quickly know if they develop measles. If they show symptoms, we get them to a healthcare provider and obtain samples to test for measles and if they have measles, we start the investigation process all over again. This is a staff and time intensive activity and is highly disruptive to people's lives. Responding to this preventable outbreak has cost over $1 million and required the work of more than 200 individuals.

    21:15 Dr. John Wiesman: So what do we need from the federal government? First, we need sustained, predictable and increased federal funding. Congress must prioritize public health and support the prevention and public health fund. We are constantly reacting to crises rather than working to prevent them. The Association of state and territorial health officials and over 80 organizations are asking you to raise the CDC budget by 22% by FY22 this will immediately bolster prevention services, save lives, and reduce healthcare cost. Second, our response to this outbreak has been benefited greatly from the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act, so thank you. The Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement in the hospital preparedness programs authorized by this law are currently funded $400 million below funding levels in the 2000s. More robust funding is needed and I strongly urge you to quickly reauthorize POPRA because many of the authorizations expired last year. Third, the three 17 immunization program has been a flat funded for 10 years without increased funding. We cannot afford to develop new ways to reach parents with immunization information nor maintain our electronic immunization systems. Fourth, we need federal leadership for a national vaccine campaign spearheaded by CDC in partnership with states that counter the anti-vaccine messages similar to the successful TRUTH tobacco prevention campaign. We have lost much ground. Urgent action is necessary.

    46:15 Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): In your opinion, there's no evidence, reputable evidence, that vaccines cause autism? Jonathan McCullers: There is absolutely no evidence at this time that vaccines cause autism. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): Dr. Omer, do you agree with that? Saad B. Omer: Absolutely. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): Doctor Wiesman, do you agree with that? Dr. John Wiesman: I do. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): Mr. Boyle, do you agree with that ideal? John Boyle: I do. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): Mr Lindenbergeer? Ethan Lindenberger: I do.

    47:30 Dr. John Wiesman: The choice to sort of make exemptions more difficult - to get them to be a sort of as burdensome as not getting the vaccine - is incredibly important. In Washington state, as you know, we have two bills right now that are looking to remove the personal exemptions from a vaccine for school entry and for child care entry. I think that's one of the tools that we have and that we should be using for this.

    47:45 Dr. John Wiesman: I will also say in Washington state, another problem we have is that about 8% of our kids are out of compliance with school records so that we don't even know if they're vaccinated or would like exemptions and we have to tackle that problem as well.

    1:05:45 Sen. Rand Paul (KY): Today though, instead of persuasion, many governments have taken to mandating a whole host of vaccines including vaccines for nonlethal diseases. Sometimes these vaccine mandates have run a muck when the, as when the government mandated a rotavirus vaccine that was later recalled because it was causing intestinal blockage in children. I'm not a fan of government coercion, yet given the choice, I do believe that the benefits of most vaccines vastly outweigh the risks. Yet it is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines. Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines. Since 1988 over $4 billion has been paid out from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Despite the government admitting to in paying $4 billion for vaccine injuries, no informed consent is used or required when you vaccinate your child. This may be the only medical procedure in today's medical world where an informed consent is not required. Now, proponents of mandatory government vaccination argue that parents who ref use to vaccinate their children risk spreading these disease to the immunocompromised community. There doesn't seem to be enough evidence of this happening to be recorded as a statistic, but it could happen. But if the fear of this is valid are we to find that next we'll be mandating flu vaccines. Between 12 and 56,000 people die from the flu or are said to die from the flu in America and there's estimated to be a few hundred from measles. So I would guess that those who want to mandate measles will be after us on the flu next. Yet the current science only allows for educated guessing when it comes to the flu vaccine. Each year before that year's flu vaccine is, or strain is known, the scientists put their best guess into that year's vaccine. Some years it's completely wrong. We vaccinate for the wrong strain of flu vaccine. Yet five states already mandate flu vaccines. Is it really appropriate, appropriate to mandate a vaccine that more often than not vaccinates for the wrong flu strain. As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it's important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, nor is force considered consistent with the liberty our forefathers saught when they came to America. I don't think you have to have one of the other, though. I'm not here to say don't vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion, I'm all for the persuasion. I vaccinated myself. I vaccinated my kid. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks, but I still do not favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security. Thank you.

    1:13:20 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA): This administration has repeatedly sought to cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which supports key immunization programs, and they've continued their efforts to weaken the Medicaid program, which covers all of the recommended vaccines for children and for many adults as well. I am glad that most of my colleagues are on the same page about the importance of vaccines. Now let's make sure we're also on the same page about the importance of public health funding, so people get access to those vaccines.

    1:28:30 Jonathan McCullers: So Mississippi does not allow any nonmedical exemptions, and they have nearly a 100% rate of immunization at school entry. They pay a lot of attention to it. Tennessee's in the middle, they allow religious exemptions, but not philosophical exemptions. In Tennessee, we have about a 97% vaccination rate of kindergarten entry, but we've seen the rate of nonmedical exemptions under the religious exemption triple in the last 10 years, so you can predict where that's going. Arkansas ,on the other hand, allows both religious and philosophical exemptions and has a rate that's around 93 to 94% below the level for community immunity.

    Hearing: Confronting a Growing Public Health Threat: Measles Outbreaks in the U.S., Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House of Representatives, C-SPAN, February 27, 2019.

    Witnesses:

    Dr. Nancy Messonnier Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

    Sound Clips:

    3:42 Chairman Diana Degette (CO): The national measles vaccination rate of children between 19 and 35 months old is currently at 91%. That may seem high to some, but given the highly contagious nature nature of measles, it's well below the 95% vaccination rate that's required to protect communities and give it what it's known as herd immunity. This so called herd immunity is particularly vital to protecting those who cannot be or are not yet vaccinated against the measles, such as infants or those with prior medical conditions who are at a higher risk of suffering severe complications from the vaccine.

    4:30 Chairman Diana Degette (CO): While the overall national rate of MMR vaccinations is currently at 91%, the rate in some communities is much lower. Some are as low as 77%.

    9:15 Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): Every state except three have enacted religious exemptions for parents who wish not to vaccinate their children. There are 17 states allow a personal philosophical exemption, which means that most people can opt out for any reason. For example, in Washington state, just 0.3% of Washington's families with kindergartners use a religious exemption. While 3.7% of families use a personal exemption and 0.8% use a medical exemption. Vaccine exemptions have increased in the past three years to a median 2.2% of kindergardeners among all states.

    10:00 Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): After the Disneyland linked outbreak to measles in 2014, the state of California ended the religious and personal exemption for vaccines. The Washington legislature is working on legislation that substantially narrows the exemptions for vaccination that would eliminate the personal or philosophical exemption while tightening the religious exemption. In recent weeks, take legislators in New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Maine, and Vermont, have proposed eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. However, last week, the Arizona House Health and Human Service Committee approved three bills to examine exemptions for mandatory vaccinations.

    23:25 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: From January 1st to February 21st, 159 cases of measles have been confirmed in 10 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. In 2018, 372 people with measles were reported from 25 states and the district of Columbia. Most cases have been unvaccinated.

    24:15 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: Nationally, we enjoy high measles vaccination coverage. However, there are pockets of people who are vaccine hesitant, who delay or even refuse to vaccinate themselves and their children. Outbreaks of measles occur, when measles gets into these communities of unvaccinated people. Those choosing not to vaccinate, tend to live near each other. Some of these are what we call close knit communities. People who share common religious beliefs or racial ethnic background. Others are people who have strong personal belief against vaccination.

    25:15 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: Vaccine hesitancy is the result of a misunderstanding of the risk and seriousness of disease combined with misinformation regarding the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. However, the specific issues fueling hesitancy varies by community. Because vaccine hesitancy remains a highly localized issue, the strategy to address these issues need to be local with support from CDC. Strong immunization programs at the state and local levels are critical to understanding the specific issues and empowering local action. CDC also works to support state and local public health efforts through research to understand these reasons and develop targeted strategies to address hesitancy.

    28:40 Dr. Anthony Fauci: Measles virus is one of the most contagious viruses that we know among the pathogens that confront mankind. As mentioned, that if an individual gets into a room with someone who has measles, and that person is coughing and sneezing, there's about a 90% chance that that person. That is very unlike other diseases like influenza and other respiratory diseases when the hit rate, although it's high, is nothing, uh, approaching 90%.

    30:00 Dr. Anthony Fauci: As was mentioned prior to the vaccine era, there were about 3 million deaths each year. The decrease was dramatic. There were 21 million lives that were saved from vaccines between the year 2000 and 2017. But as shown on the last bullet on this slide, there are 110,000 deaths still today in the world, which means there's the danger of the reinsertion of measles from other countries, and if we're not protected.

    31:00 Dr. Anthony Fauci: Well, let's take a look at some of the things that I mentioned about the disease itself. Fever, cough, rash, as was mentioned by Dr. Burgess, again, contagious from four days before the rash to four days after. So people are spreading measles before they really know that they actually have measles. We have a group of individuals who are particularly at risk for complications, infants and children, pregnant women, immunocompromised, and even adults. If you're not protected and you get infected, adults have a high incidence of complications. You've heard about the complications. They are not trivial. One out of 10 with ear infections, which could lead to deafness, pneumonia in one out of 20 cases, and encephalitis one in a thousand. A very rare occurrence called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, seven to 10 years after an individual develops measles, they can have a very devastating neurological syndrome, no known cure, and is vaccine preventable.

    34:15 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: Taking care of your health, eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep: Those are all parts of a healthy lifestyle, but the only way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated. It's a safe and effective vaccine, and parents should go ahead and get vaccinated.

    36:00 Chairman Diana Degette (CO): What are the risks inherent in the vaccine itself? I think that might be one reason why, um, some, some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children as they believe that the risks with the vaccine outweigh the benefits. Dr. Nancy Messonnier: I think you're exactly right and I think in the setting of not a lot of measles cases around, parents weigh in their mind the risks and benefits and think they shouldn't vaccinate. Truth is this is an incredibly safe vaccine. We have a host of experience with it. The vaccine's been used for a really long time. We in the United States enjoy one of the most robust systems to monitor the safety of vaccines. And that's why we can say with confidence that this is a safe vaccine. The most common side effects are a sore arm, which goes away pretty quickly.

    42:00 Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): I've heard some parents claim that measles vaccine can cause brain inflammation known as encephalitis. Is that true? Dr. Anthony Fauci: Brain inflammation? Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): Encephalitis? Can the measles vaccine cause encephalitis? The vaccine? Dr. Anthony Fauci: The vaccine? No. Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): There's no cases? Chairman Diana Degette (CO): The Chair will remind all persons in the audience that manifestation of approval or disapproval of proceedings is in violation of the rules of the house and its committees. Gentlemen may proceed. Dr. Nancy Messonnier: In healthy children, the MMR vaccine does not cause brain swelling or encephalitis. Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): So if a, if a child was unhealthy when they're vaccinated? Dr. Nancy Messonnier: So, there are rare instances of children with certain very specific underlying problems with their immune system and who the vaccine is contra indicated. One of the reasons its contra indicated is in that very specific group of children, there is a rare risk of brain swelling. Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): Would the parent know if their child was in that category before… Dr. Nancy Messonnier: Certainly, and that's why parents should talk to their doctor.

    43:15 Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): So there's another thing that's that people can self medicate with vitamin A to prevent measles and not do the vaccine. Is that, what's the validity of that in your opinion? Dr. Anthony Fauci: Well, the history of vitamin A and measles goes back to some very important and I think transforming studies that were done years ago in, in sub Saharan Africa, is that with vitamin A supplements, particularly in vitamin A deficiency that children who get measles have a much more difficult course. So vitamin A associated with measles can actually protect you against some of the, uh, toxic and adverse effects. Importantly, since in a country, a developed nation where you really don't have any issue with vitamin A deficiency, that you don't really see that transforming effect. But some really good studies that were done years ago show that vitamin A supplementation can be very helpful in preventing the complications of measles. Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): It doesn't prevent the onset of measles if, if you're not… Dr. Anthony Fauci: No. Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY): is that what you're saying? It doesn't want to put words in your mouth. Dr. Anthony Fauci: It doesn't prevent measles. But it's important in preventing some of the complications in societies in which vitamin A deficiency might exist.

    46:10 Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL): I'm trying to understand what has happened between 2000 and 2019 and why we're, we've fallen so far from the public health success stories, um, when the CDC actually said that there we had eradicated in the United States, uh, measles in, in, in 2000. So Dr. Messonnier, yes or no: Do you believe the primary cause of the spike and measles outbreak over the past few years is due to vaccine hesitancy and misinformation? Dr. Nancy Messonnier: Yes and no. I think vaccine hesitancy is a, is a word that means many different things. Parents have questions about vaccines, they get those questions answered. That isn't what you should call a hesitancy. So I do believe that parents concerns about vaccine leads to under vaccination and most of the cases that we're seeing are an unvaccinated communities. However, if you look nationally at measles vaccination coverage, there were other things that are associated with low coverage. Um, for example, living in a rural area versus an urban area. Rural areas have lower vaccine coverage with measles. Schakowsky: How would you account for that? Messonnier: Well, I think that there are other things besides the sole choice that are around access to care. For example, kids without health insurance have lower measles vaccination coverage. Schakowsky: So generally lack of access to care. Messonnier: In addition to parents making decisions not to vaccinate their kids. Yes.

    50:20 Rep. Michael Burgess (TX): I do feel obligated dimension that vitamin A is not like vitamin C. You may not take unlimited quantities of vitamin A with impunity. It is a fat soluble vitamin and it is stored in the body. Uh, so don't go out and hyper dose on vitamin A because it, uh, it will not accrue to your long-term benefit.

    54:15 Rep. Michael Burgess (TX): Did the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine ever contain mercury or thimerosal? I'll need a verbal answer for the clerk. Dr. Anthony Fauci: No. It's preservative free.

    56:00 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: So measles was identified as eliminated in the United States in 2000 because there was no longer sustained transmission in the US. However, measles continues to circulate globally, which means unvaccinated US travelers can be exposed to measles and bring it back home with them, and folks in their families and their communities, if they're not protected by vaccine, are at risk. And measles is so incredibly contagious that it can spread really quickly. So yes, we should be concerned.

    57:00 Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ): What role do you see this spread of disinformation online playing in, in, in the rise of, um, of these outbreaks? Dr. Anthony Fauci: Yeah, I believe Mr. Pallone, that it plays an important role. It's, it's not the only one but, but I believe it plays an important role. And I think the classic example of that was the disinformation associated with the relationship between measles, vaccination and autism, which, uh, back when it came out, uh, years ago, there was a big concern that this was the case when it was investigated. It became clear that the data upon which those statements were made were false and fraudulent. And the person who made them had his medical license revoked in England. And yet, as you know very well, the good news about the Internet is that it spreads important information. That's good. And the bad news about the Internet is that when the bad information gets on there, it's tough to get it off. And yet people refer to things that have been proven to be false. So this information is really an important issue that we need to try and overcome by continuing to point people to what's evidenced based and what's science-based. So in, in so many respects, we shouldn't be criticizing people who get these information that's false because they may not know it's false. We need to try and continue to educate them to show them what the true evidence base is. But in direct answer to your question, that is an important problem, disinformation. Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ): Now do you think that the promotion of this inaccurate and fear based messages, would you consider that in itself a threat to public health? Dr. Anthony Fauci: Yes, of course. I think the spread of false information that leads people into poor choices, even though they're well meaning in their choice, it's a poor choice based on information. I think that's a major contribution to the problem that we're discussing. (lady behind him holds up a book titled “Autism Epidemic”)

    1:04:00 Dr. Anthony Fauci: But when you have a highly effective, and I want to underscore that because measles is one of the most effective vaccines that we have of any vaccine that a massive public health effort could lead to eradication. Because we don't have an animal vector, we don't have an intermediate host. We don't have a vector that transmits it. It is just person to person transmissibility. So theoretically we could eradicate it. The problem between eradication and elimination, if you eliminate it like we did in this country in 2000 as long as this measles somewhere, you always have the threat of it reemerging if you let down the umbrella of herd immunity.

    1:05:00 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: Dr. Fauci is correct about Madagascar, but I think Americans don't realize that in 2018 there were also outbreaks in England, France, Italy, and Greece. American travelers going abroad need to think about their immunization status, not just when they're going into countries like Madagascar, but even going to Europe.

    1:11:45 Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC): And one of the world's measle outbreaks right now, it's happening in Brazil where people fleeing a completely broken country of Venezuela are spreadingeas measles and - madam chair- I'd like to submit for the record, an NPR article, "The collapse of health system sends Venezuelans fleeing to Brazil for basic medical needs." And I'll submit that for the record. Um, they've been in a unvaccinated population because of the collapse of the failed socialist state in Venezuela where there should be an instructive example for some of us in this committee room of the lack of that sort of medical treatment of vaccinations. I would note that the humanitarian aid that countries like the U.S. are trying to send to Venezuela is being burned on bridges by the Maduro regime instead of actually being used to help his own people. This includes vaccinations, like the ones we're discussing today. There were measles vaccinations that were burned on the bridges as part of the relief effort to Venezuela.

    1:18:30 Rep. Kathy Castor (FL): I was a little confused by the last line of questioning that they're, the alarm should be over, uh, immigration and, and asylum seekers. You have a comment on that, Dr. Fauci? Dr. Anthony Fauci: Well, I, I think what Dr. Messonnier said is absolutely correct. If you look at the known outbreak, so if you take the outbreak in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in New York City and in Rockland County, it was a relatively closed group who had a rate of vaccination that was below the level of a good herd immunity. A person from Israel understandably came over legally as a visitor into the community. And then you had a massive outbreak in New York. The Somali community in Minnesota, the same thing happened. You had a group there who had a lower rate that went below the cutoff point for herd immunity. Some immigrant came in as one of the members of the community, was a relatively closed community, and that's what you have. So I think when you talk about outbreaks, it really transcends some of the demographic issues that you were talking about, about lower income or rural versus urban. It really is an a closed community that we're seeing it. Castor: with lower vaccination rates. Fauci: Right, exactly. So a lower vaccination rates.

    1:23:45 Rep. Paul Tonko (NY): In response to the spotlight on the monetization of misinformation about vaccines and the ways in which platforms are being manipulated to promote anti vaccination messaging, some companies have announced new policies. For instance, Facebook says it is working on its algorithms to prevent anti-vaccination content from being recommended to users. Pinterest has decided to remove all vaccination related posts and searches, even accurate information. And YouTube just recently announced that it would prevent channels that promote anti-vaccination content from running advertising. Dr Fauci, do you think these actions are a step in the right direction to ensure parents and families have access to science-based factual health information? Dr. Anthony Fauci: Obviously it's a very sensitive subject because it then gets in the that borderline between the, you know, the essentially crushing of information that might actually be useful information. However, having said that, I do think that a close look and scrutiny at something that is egregiously incorrect has some merits of taking a careful look as to whether, one, you want to be participating in the dissemination of that. Always being careful about not wanting to essentially curtail freedom of expression. You still want to make sure you don't do something that is so clearly hazardous to the health of individuals. Rep. Paul Tonko (NY): I appreciate that. And Dr. Messonnier, as the agency charged with protecting our national public health, what efforts are underway at CDC to counter the online proliferation of anti vaccination disinformation. Dr. Nancy Messonnier: As a science based agency, CDC really focuses on making sure that we get scientifically credible information available to the folks at the front lines it needed every day. In order to do that, we do scan social media to see what issues are arising and what questions are emerging to make sure that we can then gather the scientifically appropriate answers and get that to our partners in the front line so that they can talk to patients about that information.

    1:30:30 Dr. Nancy Messonnier: The concept of herd immunity is that by vaccinating an individual, you don't just prevent them from getting disease, but you also prevent them from transmitting it to others. And what that means is that in our community, individuals who, for example, can't get the vaccine because they're too young, or they have some kind of illness that prevents it, are still protected by the cushion of protection provided by their community.

    Radio Interview: National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton, Hugh Hewitt Book Club, February 1, 2019. Hugh Hewitt: There are reports of Venezuela shipping gold to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a very close ally of ours. Have you asked the UAE to sequester that gold? John Bolton: Let me just say this. We’re obviously aware of those reports consistent with what we did on Monday against PDVSA, the state-owned oil monopoly where we imposed crippling sanctions. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, is implementing them as we speak. We’re also looking at cutting off other streams of revenue and assets for the Maduro mafia, and that certainly includes gold. And we’ve already taken some steps to neutralize gold that’s been out of the country used as collateral for bank loans. We’ve frozen, and our friends in Europe, have frozen a substantial amount of that. We want to try and do the same here. We’re on top of it. That’s really all I can say at the moment. White House Daily Briefing: Trump Administration Officials Announce Sanctions on Venezuelan Oil Sector, C-SPAN, January 28, 2019.

    Speakers:

    Steve Mnuchin - Treasury Secretary John Bolton - National Security Advisor

    Sound Clips:

    7:43 Steven Mnuchin: But effective immediately, any purchases of Venezuelan oil by U.S. entities, money will have to go into blocked accounts. Now, I've been in touch with many of the refineries. There is a significant amount of oil that's at sea that's already been paid for. That oil will continue to come to the United States. If the people in Venezuela want to continue to sell us oil, as long as that money goes into blocked accounts, we'll continue to take it. Otherwise, we will not be buying it. And again, we have issued general licenses, so the refineries in the United States can continue to operate.

    9:06 Steven Mnuchin: The purpose of sanctions is to change behavior. So when there is a recognition that PDVSA is the property of the rightful rulers, the rightful leaders, the president, then, indeed, that money will be available to Guaido.

    Interview: Jenny McCarthy talks to CNN on how she cured her sons Autism caused by VACCINATIONS, CNN, October 23, 2008. Documentary: Mission, Measles - The Story of a Vaccine, Co-produced by US Public Health Service and Merck, C-SPAN/American History TV, 1964.

    3:30 Narrator: As of this time, measles is by far our most serious epidemic childhood disease. Although nearly half a million cases are reported each year, the actual number is probably closer to 4 million.

    3:45 Narrator: In 1961 after the polio vaccines had reduced the deaths from that disease to 90, that same year 434 measles deaths were reported. In the less developed countries of the world, the toll taken by measles is much greater. In Nigeria, it is estimated that one out of four babies contracting measles dies from it. The tragic toll of measles is also told in a neighboring republic Upper Volta, where in one village, an epidemic killed 113 out of 115 children who got the disease. Across the ocean in Chile, measles accounts for half of all childhood deaths from acute communicable diseases each year.

    Community Suggestions

    See Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • Chemical storage facilities exist all over the country and one of them recently caught fire, poisoning the residents Houston, Texas for three days. In this episode, learn about a Department of Homeland Security program - the CFATS program- designed to protect us from terrorist attacks on dangerous chemical storage facilities like the one in Texas and also discover what needs to be done to ensure that CFATS actually protects us from the threats these chemical facilities pose. There is still work to be done.

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    House Homeland Security Committee

    Committee Members

    How to Contact:

    For Senators: firstname_lastname@lastnameofsenator.senate.gov (underscore between first and last) For Representatives: firstname.lastname@mail.house.gov Hearings Securing Our Nation's Chemical Facilities: Stakeholders Perspectives on Improving the CFATS Program, House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation, March 12, 2019. YouTube 370 views

    Witnesses:

    John Morawetz: Health and Safety Representative ICWUC Health and Safety Representatives International Chemical Workers Union Council Dr. Mike Wilson, Ph.D, MPH: National Director, Occupational and Environmental Health Program, BlueGreen Alliance Pamela Nixon: President, People Concerned About Chemical Safety Kirsten Meskill: Director, Corporate Security, BASF

    Sound Clips:

    13:00 Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA): Since CFATS was established, the number of ‘high risk’ chemical facilities has dropped by half.

    13:10 Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA) I believe - and DHS agreed - that there is an opportunity to take the data on how facilities are reducing risk and use it to develop voluntary best practices that other facilities could use to reduce risk.

    13:20 Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA) Also, it is not clear to me that CFATS facilities are including employees in the development of site security plans, vulnerability assessments, or inspections – as they are required to by law.

    13:30 Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA) Finally, if CFATS is going to be successful, we need to be sure that the program is taking all relevant factors into account to assess risk. Otherwise, we can’t trust that CFATS is truly capturing the nation’s highest risk facilities. For example, right now, DHS does not consider whether the facility is located near a hospital, a school, a residential area, a military base, a power plant, or close to other chemical facilities. Any of these factors could make a facility a more attractive target, or make an event even worse for the surrounding community.

    21:00 Dr. Mike Wilson: In the area of emergency response, CFATS gives authority to the secretary to provide information to local governments and I quote "to help ensure that first-responders are properly prepared and provided with the situational awareness needed to respond to security incidents at covered chemical facilities," endquote. This is useful but it's not sufficient if the objective is to give firefighters the ability to respond effectively to an industrial chemical incident. As we know from the experience of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, or EPCRA, firefighters need much more than chemical information. They need to talk to the people who run the facilities in their jurisdiction. They need to get inside those facilities regularly to see how chemicals are stored and processed in order to imagine what could go wrong. They need to train side by side with facility operators. This is pre-fire planning and it's crucial to a safe and effective response and it requires an ongoing commitment by industry. That commitment however needs to be explicitly required under CFATS, more so than what is currently recommended within the non mandatory risk based performance standards because the fact is that except in an emergency, many facilities are reluctant to invite firefighters and other responders in to look around their property, let alone to pull out their equipment and conduct training. I speak to this based on my own 13 years of work as a professional firefighter, EMT, and paramedic. During which time I responded to about 10,000 emergency calls including to industrial chemical releases and fires. I can tell you that to do their job, firefighters need both information and access, and they're like, they're more likely to get these if facilities are required to provide them on a routine basis under CFATS.

    22:30 Dr. Mike Wilson Our second recommendation pertains to the role of frontline workers in site security. The existing CFATS language on employee input is helpful but too generic to be effective. Depending on the inclinations of the facility, the term employee input can mean everything from a manager checking the box to get workers sign off on a fully executed site security plan, or it could mean a real seat for workers at management's decision making table. In any case, the right of workers to participate meaningfully in site security decision making needs to be explicit in CFATS because just as they are reluctant to give routine access to firefighters, many facilities are reluctant to seriously involve frontline workers in decision making and yet industry itself recognizes that workers have a great deal of knowledge and experience to contribute. We suggest that you consider language from the 2017 process safety management regulations in California, which require oil refineries to involve workers throughout all phases of process safety decision making. If adopted by CFATS this type of language will help ensure that the insights of frontline workers are genuinely integrated into site security.

    23:15 Dr. Mike Wilson Finally, our third recommendation pertains to risk reduction. CFATS is based on a risk management framework, which assumes that dangerous chemicals used at a facility cannot be reduced or eliminated, so they have to be surrounded by layers of protection. Industry is far more innovative and clever than this, of course, and DHS has reported that under CFATS, thousands of facilities have voluntarily taken action to reduce their use of dangerous chemicals by consolidating them from multiple sites into one or two sites, replacing a hazardous chemical with a less hazardous one, reducing the total quantity held on site, or switching to a less concentrated form. These approaches can make a facility much safer, and they have the effect of reducing the desirability of the facility as a target of opportunity. CFATS could do more to encourage or require facilities to implement these types of approaches, and we encourage you to make these changes during reauthorization.

    36:45 Kirsten Meskill Over the past four years, the Department of Homeland Security has significantly improved it's administration of the CFATS program and has had a positive impact on enhancing security at chemical facilities.

    37:30 Kirsten Meskill While industry was pleased that Congress passed the short term extension in January to avoid a complete shutdown of CFATS, I think we all agreed that it is not the best solution going forward. Longer authorization periods provide important stability for planning security investments and allow DHS to operate the program efficiently and effectively.

    38:30 Kirsten Meskill Recently, DHS has been implementing a risk based performance standard at 200 high risk facilities, those that are at tiers one and two. This requires facility operation operators to collect sensitive personal information from thousands of employees and contractors for DHS to vet against the terrorist screening database. DHS is now planning to extend the program to an additional 3000 low risk tier three and four facilities. This will expand vetting to tens of thousands of more employees and contractors. ACC and its members are concerned that was such an expansion is unnecessary and will put personal information at risk. Furthermore, it is unclear what benefit is associated with the additional vetting given the cost.

    58:30 Kirsten Meskill At BASF, and I think at many of the companies of our size, many of our facilities, we have worked to reduce our risk. And so we are now down to either three or four tier levels. And so, as I mentioned earlier, this is an enormous number of folks that we have to do the additional screening on, but perhaps the more complicated would be the contractors and visitors that we have on site. And that's where it gets a little bit, a lot more complicated to ensure that all those individuals that are coming onto our site day in, day out, have gone through the screening process. And it's costly. It's very expensive, needless to say for us, as well as for the contractors that support us.

    1:07:30 Kirsten Meskill: Our concerns are exposing personal data of thousands more thousands and thousands and thousands of employees and contractors for this terrorist database screening. And whether the value actually is there for the cost and for the, the potential risk of exposing this personal data to cybersecurity risks. Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY): But don't you think that's one of the core ways to ensure security at these facilities? Meskill: Well, we are conducting our own background screening anyway, which includes, you know, criminal background checks also. So it seems duplicative. Yes. Rep. Rice: So have you communicated that? Meskill: Yes. Rep. Rice: And are there any questions that they include in their review or their background check that you do not? Meskill: I cannot answer that question. I don't know the answer to that. Rep. Rice: Okay. Thank you. Mr Chairman.

    Security Our Nation's Chemical Facilities: Building on the Progress of the CFATS Program, House Committee on Homeland Security, February 27, 2019. YouTube 649 Views

    Witnesses:

    David Wulf: Director, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security Nathan Anderson: Acting Director, Homeland Security & Justice, US Government Accountability Office

    Sound Clips:

    2:30 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): Through CFATS, DHS works with chemical facility owners and operators to make sure they have safeguards in place to prevent a bad actor from gaining access to dangerous chemicals stored onsite. In the past, this program has enjoyed broad, bipartisan support on and off the Hill. Officials in the Bush Administration, including former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, were among the first to call for a federal rule to secure chemical facilities. And, officials from the Trump Administration are among the most recent. Last November, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote to Congress urging us to reauthorize CFATS: “[W]e continue to face one of the most serious terrorist threat environments since 9/11. Foreign terrorist organizations are urging recruits to use simple weapons, including toxic chemicals, to target public spaces and events.”Clearly, this threat has not abated. Yet, the Department’s authority to carry out CFATS came very close to lapsing last month that caused this Committee to pass a short-term bill extending the program until 2020. For eight years, CFATS was tied to annual appropriations cycles. Lacking the certainty of a multi-year authorization, DHS struggled to keep staff, develop long-term policies, and work with a regulated community that did not know if the rules would apply the following year. In 2014, Congress worked on a bicameral, bipartisan basis to finally put an end to this pattern by passing a multi-year authorization. I had hoped to work collaboratively in the last Congress, as we did in 2014, to give CFATS a long-term reauthorization. Unfortunately, that did not come to pass, and we once again found ourselves with no alternative but to pass another short-term extension. As Chairman, I do not intend to let that happen again.

    5:30 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): Six years ago, there was a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that caused catastrophic damage and took the lives of first responders who had been called to the scene. On the screen above you is a picture of that scene where volunteer firemen went to that location not knowing what they were going to and they lost their lives. So we need to close that loophole because as a volunteer fireman myself, those public spirited first responders did not know what they were going to until it was too late. So if CFATS had been in place those individuals probably, given the information available, would not have approached it in the same light.

    6:45 Rep. Mike Rogers (AL): Now, before I begin, I would like to express my extreme disappointment that the majority staff denied the minority's requests for a witness at today's hearing. Under rule 11 of the rules of the house, the minority is afforded at least one witness at each committee hearing. If denied a witness, the minority is entitled to a separate hearing to take testimony from its witnesses. So pursuant to rules of the house, I'm providing the chairman with a letter signed by the Republican members of the community, formerly invoking our right to a separate hearing of the full committee to hear from minority witnesses.

    8:40 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): Consistent with the rules that we adopted for this committee, similar to the rules we've had before, we offered a government witness to this government panel and from my understanding, that was not accepted. But you could have had a government witness and we will respond in writing, but the rules we apply are the same rules that this committee has always operated under.

    18:30 Nathan Anderson: I will speak first to the department's efforts to identify high risk chemical facilities. Just identifying the universe of facilities that should even be regulated under CFATS has been and may always be a huge challenge. There's no one complete data source of facilities that have chemicals. In 2014 we found that DHS used self reported and unverified data to determine the risk of facilities holding toxic chemicals that could threaten surrounding communities if released. We recommended that DHS should better verify the accuracy of facility reported data. Dhs implemented this recommendation by revising its methodology so it now calculates the risk of toxic release rather than relying on facilities to do so.

    20:15 Nathan Anderson: A key quality assurance function involves actions to ensure compliance. And in 2015 we reported that DHS had conducted compliance inspections at 83 of the roughly 1700 facilities with approved security plans. At that time, we found that nearly half of the respective facilities were not fully compliant with their approved security plans and the DHS did not have documented procedures for managing facilities compliance. We recommended that DHS document procedures for managing compliance. As a result, DHS revise CFATS procedures, which we are currently reviewing to determine if they sufficiently document the processes being used to track on compliant facilities and ensure facilities implement plan measures as outlined in their security plans. On a positive note, DHS recently told us that they have conducted more than 2000 compliance inspections.

    23:00 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): You saw the picture on the screen earlier about the 12 first responders in West, Texas who unfortunately lost their lives because they were basically responding to an incident that we could possibly cover under CFATS. Now the law requires DHS to share such information as is necessary so Mr. Anderson, you indicated in your testimony that GAO surveyed first responders and emergency planners last year about whether such critical information is getting shared. Tell us what you found in that survey. Nathan Anderson: Of course. As part of our work, we looked at 13, or interviewed 13 or 15 local emergency planning committees. These committees cover about 373 high risk facilities. And 13 of those 15 local emergency planning committees did not have access to the information in CFATS that could potentially be useful to first responders and emergency planners.

    27:30 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): So the majority of the information that was available just was not being shared. Nathan Anderson: I think it's a situation of access. DHS has stood up something called the IP Gateway, which is a forum and a vehicle for communicating that kind of information to first responders. I think this is a situation where the first responders either did not have access or were not familiar with how to use the IP Gateway system. Rep. Thompson: So Mr. Wulf, can you provide the committee with, what do you see as the way forward in this respect? David Wulf: Absolutely, Mr Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity. So obviously, sharing of information with first responders is of the utmost importance and it's something that we highly prioritize as a result. Those who may be called upon to respond to incidents at facilities, high risk facilities or other facilities holding chemicals, need information about those facilities. They need information about the chemical holdings so they know what they are walking into when they attempt to save lives and property. So we have redoubled our efforts over the past couple of years to reach to local emergency planning committees. In fact, in 2018 we visited more than 800 of those local emergency planning committees and we are right now in the midst of a push to reach committees, emergency planning committees, associated with the highest populations CFATS covered facilities in the various counties, the top 25% of those counties across the country. I think another important thing to remember is that CFATS and our chemical security inspectors across the country promote sharing of information with first responders and do that in a way that connects them directly with the facilities. So one of the CFATS risk based performance standards, RPBS nine, was focused on response and it requires that every high risk facility reach out to make contact with their local first responders. And in many cases, our inspectors - our CFATS team - facilitates that contact and that communication. So I think that is another important way in which we are continuing to get the word out and we're pushing, as well, information about that IP Gateway and signing more and more folks up every day to give them access to the portal. Rep. Thompson: Before I lose my time, you know, there was this requirement that at least 25% that you referenced in your comments would be done by the end of March. Where are you percentage wise with hitting that target? Wulf: We're on track to have that done by the end of March. Rep. Thompson: And after that, what's the next target? Wulf: We will continue, you know, circling back and we have, we have met with literally thousands of local emergency planning committees and we're committed to continuing to, to ride that circuit and to ensure that relevant folks, those who have a need to know information about chemical facilities and chemical holdings because they may be called to run into those facilities, have the information. Rep. Thompson: Well, the reason I say that, as I look at the membership of the committee present, a lot of us represent volunteer fire departments in our respective districts. So I think it's really incumbent upon us to push this information out to those departments so that those first responders - who are unpaid doing their civic duty - would not be put at risk simply because the information that's available is not being shared. Can you give the committee some kind of a guesstimate as to when the process can be completed? Wulf: Well, I would say that it's going to be an ongoing, kind of continuing effort. I don't think we will ever stop the outreach, but we will get through those 25%, sort of highest density counties in the next month. I would, I would suspect that, you know, toward the end of this calendar year, we will have gotten to most of the other LEPCs across the country as well.

    45:00 Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM): In the questions that Chairman Thompson asked, we, I'm glad to hear the DHS is on track for the March 2019 a deadline for doing the outreach to the, uh, high risk chemical facilities. Does that information sharing, uh, include the specific chemical holdings stored, uh, on the sites that the first responders will be responding to? David Wulf: Yes, it does. So first responders who have a facility in their sort of area of jurisdiction can have access and we want them to have access to that information.

    47:30 Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM): We also discussed a little bit the outreach that's done to employees of facility plans, so the training and exercise and drills that are done, but also limiting access on a need to know basis. I'd like to know a little bit about the input requirement, that there's a requirement to get input from at least one employee, where applicable, or a labor union representative in forming the facility plan. Do inspectors confirm that that input requirement has been complied with? David Wulf: Inspectors will raise that issue during an inspection and will hear from facilities to what extent they have involved employees and or as, as kind of relevant, resident bargaining unit members in the process. So, yup, those discussions happen during inspections. Rep. Torres Small: Are inspectors required to speak with those employees or union representatives? Wulf: It is not a requirement. Rep. Torres Small: And if it is determined, even if they're not speaking with the employees or labor unions that there was not an employee or labor union representative consulted, does that result in disapproving of the security plan? Wulf: It does not. It does not. We sort of leave to the discretion of those who are responsible for the security of the facility, the extent to which it actually is practical to involve, you know, however many employees in the process. Rep. Torres Small: Even though the CFATS Act requires that input? Wulf Well, the CFATS Act talks about involvement to the extent practical. Rep. Torres Small: Thank you.

    55:00 Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI): I'm from Michigan and we have a large number of these facilities including two in my district and then just outside my district, in Detroit, we had a big chemical fire in years past. So this one's really of interest to my community. I'm guessing my first question, Mr. Wulf is just on accountability. So how would a member of Congress know after March whether the facilities in his or her district have communicated effectively with local law enforcement that there's a shared understanding of kind of the risks? Like how would I know that after March? David Wulf: Are you talking about the communication with the first responders? Rep. Slotkin: Yeah. Because we had this Detroit fire years ago, years ago, but my understanding is we did not have full awareness by the first responders and we didn't lose anyone, but it certainly was a potential risk. So how would I feel comfort that my local responders have been informed with what they need? Wulf: So I think, um, I can tell you with confidence that all facilities within the CFATS program, all facilities covered by CFATS, will have made connections with their relevant local first responders. It is a, it is a requirement of the of the program. It is the focus of one of our risk based performance standards - number nine of 18. It is something that we verify and facilitate, so you can rest assured that that is happening across the 3,300 highest risk chemical facilities and their relevant first responders across the country.

    59:30 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): Mr. Wulf, can you provide the committee with how many actions you've brought on facilities inspected that have been found in noncompliance? David Wulf: Sure. And I guess it's kind of a two part answer because of the way the CFATS program and our enforcement processes work. Of course, you know, we strive to work with facilities to bring them into a compliance and by and large facilities have done a good job and are in compliance with their plans. In upwards of 80 cases we have had to resort to our enforcement authorities and to issue, um, a, an administrative order that per the law, um, gives facilities a certain amount of time, um, to get their act together and, and, uh, alleviate whatever the issue might be. We've gotten to the point with five facilities where we have had to issue a civil monetary penalty. Uh, and that has proven in those cases to be the additional impetus facilities needed to come into compliance. Rep. Thompson: So everybody's in compliance. Wulf: Everybody is currently in compliance. We have, you know, it's, this is a dynamic population, right? So facilities are in different stages of perhaps working on their site security plans, getting them to approval. But facilities against which we have been forced and issued civil penalties have come into compliance.

    1:00:15 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): Those two facilities in Ms. Slotkin's district, is there a directory that she can go to or is there a way that she can get with you and you can say these two facilities are compliant? David Wulf: Yes, absolutely. If they're CFATS facilities we're glad to sit down and talk through what exists. Rep. Thompson: That was really what she was trying to get to. Wulf: We're glad to get you that information and talk. Rep. Thompson: Thank you.

    1:04:00 Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX): Director Wulf, back to you. Should the risk based performance standards be modified to reflect the evolving threat from drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles? David Wulf: Yeah, so the, uh, the drones question, uh, is a, is an important one for sure. And it is a continually evolving sort of threat vector. Uh, I think as they stand the risk based performance standards, uh, account for and we certainly engage with facilities, um, on the reporting of significant incidents. Uh, and we do take in, um, you know, a decent number of reports associated with overflight or flights nearby, high risk chemical facilities of unmanned aircraft aircraft system. So I think we have the tools in place from an incident reporting standpoint. Um, our counterparts at the Federal Aviation Administration I know are working toward a broader framework, uh, and we are working with them on that for critical infrastructure. Rep. Crenshaw: Because it's prohibited under federal law to, to, to interfere with the operation of a drone right now. So is that, is that part of the conversation? I mean, to allow essentially facilities to defend themselves. Is that conversation ongoing?. Wulf: That is probably a part of the broader conversation for sure. And you know, it's, it's an issue that, um, that we had the department are, um, are looking at, not just from a chemical facility angle, but across all critical infrastructure, uh, infrastructure sectors.

    1:08:30 Rep. Val Demings (FL): Mr. Wulf, my questions are for you. When DHS is considering whether a facility is high risk, do you include in that methodology or whatever process you use, would you factor in if the facility would be located to a elementary school for example, or a nursing home or hospital? David Wulf: Yes, so we factor in - it's a good question - we tier for a couple of major different threat streams, one of which focused on theft and diversion of chemicals, the other which is focused on facilities where there could be a release into a surrounding community. In those cases of release, we absolutely factor in the surrounding population. One of the things we were able to make some significant headway on, as we kind of basked in the stability that was afforded by long term authorization, was a complete retooling of our risk assessment methodology. So we're now more accurately able to model those surrounding populations and tier more accurately. Rep. Demings: Also studies show that chemical facilities tend to be concentrated in low income and minority communities. In determining facility risks, does DHS consider whether a facility is in close proximity to other chemical facilities that could exacerbate the impact of an attack on an already vulnerable population? Wulf: We certainly consider what is in the surrounding area by way of, by way of population as we do our tiering. Rep. Demings: And so when you consider the proximity to those populations, those low income already very vulnerable areas, what do you factor into? What is it exactly that you were considering or looking at? Wulf: Well, we are considering where the population is located in proximity to a facility and we are kind of modeling, you know, were there to be an incident that caused a release of chemicals, what part of that population would be impacted and what number of fatalities could potentially occur as we're thinking about the tiering. Rep. Demings: Okay. So when you say where the population is located, what exactly does that mean? Could you help me with that? Wulf: It means like how many people are located either, you know, during the day or at night in their homes and their businesses and in the schools and how close they are to the facility and then we look at what type of chemical we're talking about, what quantities of chemicals we're talking about, what the prospect is for release of those chemicals, what quantity could be released. And then there's sort of a plume modeling effort designed to get us to a place where we can kind of model what the consequences would be of a release of chemicals caused by a terrorist.

    1:30:30 Rep. Max Rose (NY): Moving on in terms of the voluntary participation of the private sector, it seems as if this is actually a great case in which we have been very successful in that regard. What type of lessons learned can we draw out of this to transfer it to issues of cybersecurity, general counter terrorism.... Where we have to involve the private sector but we're often struggling to get them to come forward? What type of lessons learned can we glean from this? David Wulf: In this case, we do have a regulatory framework, so there's, you know, there's an obligation for facilities and companies that operate facilities that have threshold quantities of chemicals of interest in our regulation to report information to us and if they're assessed as high risk, to be part of the program, to develop site security plans and be subjected to inspections. But I would say that on a purely voluntary basis, the chemical industry writ large, and that cuts across a variety of critical infrastructure sectors, has been fully committed and bought in to this program and has helped us to drive forward key improvements to the program. So one of the ways that happens is through something we call the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council Framework. So we bring together, sector councils, of chemical industry or as the case may be, oil and natural gas industry folks, to talk about ways in which we can continue to enhance our respective critical infrastructure protection and or chemicals security efforts and I do think that is a good model and it's one that the department is also using on the cybersecurity front and across other… Rep. Rose: I take it that the best model in this case was that this was mandatory with private sector involvement. That was the pathway to success then. Wulf: The regulatory framework I think has, has helped for sure. Rep. Rose: Thank you.

    1:40:30 David Wulf: CFATS is focused, you know, I think appropriately as a risk based program, and it's targeted at America's highest risk facilities. So those facilities at the highest risk of terrorist attack or or exploitation, that's less than 10% of the facilities that submit top screens for risk assessment by us.

    1:42:00 David Wulf: Well, you know, CFATS is a non prescriptive program. We can't require any specific measures.

    1:48:30 Rep. Al Green (TX): The CFATS Act of 2014, which requires DHS to create an experimental new program. DHS has performed diligently and the program has been implemented and it seems that as of June 2018 only 18 facilities have taken advantage of this program. And my query is, does it make good sense to keep a program that appeals to 18 facilities? I'm sure that there are some other projects that merit our attention. There are some other goals that we should review in the area of Cybersecurity, first responder outreach, and DHS probably has a lot of energy that it has put into this, that may have been used otherwise. So quickly, if you would please give me some sense of why a program that has accommodated 18 facilities at some, some great expense should be maintained. David Wulf: I appreciate the remarks and that is a fair question. You're referring to the expedited approval program that enables, on an expedited basis, the certification of facility security plans where those facilities adhere to a prescriptive list of security measures. I think it is fair to say, as you noted, that a very small number of facilities have taken advantage - have availed themselves of the program. Rep. Green: If I may, just so that we may understand the size of the language. When you say "small", how many could have taken advantage of it and juxtapose that to the number that have. Wulf: Yeah. So it applies to three, tier three and four facilities, so that would be 90% of our regulated universe could have taken advantage. So upwards of 2,500 facilities could have. Rep. Green: And of the 2,500, 18…? Wulf: 18 have. Yes. I think some of that owes itself to the fact that most facilities were well through the process of developing their site security plans a through the normal process at the time the expedited approval program was rolled out, though we certainly, you know, did our best to publicize it's availability and the fact that most facilities appreciate the contact that they're able to have with inspectors throughout the normal process of developing their site security plan. It tends to improve those plans. So, you know, although we've had a few additional facilities since the reach hearing of facilities occurred within the last couple of years that have availed themselves of the program, the overall number is very small. And the fact of the matter is that our online system through which facilities develop their SSPs is now significantly more streamlined, significantly more user friendly, so this is certainly less incentive to use this other program. Rep. Green: I don't mean to be rude and unrefined but I have to ask him because I have another question. Is it time to review this other program so that we can ascertain whether or not it is something that we should continue with? Wulf: I would say yes, certainly time to, to take a hard look at it. Green: Okay.

    1:51:30 Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO): Because the EPA no longer updates a list of the locations these facilities, chemical facilities, it's difficult for me to just pinpoint exactly where they are.

    1:57:45 Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS): A couple of takeaways. Mr. Wulf, I think based on what I heard, I think it would help us if you could provide us a with a master list of the facilities that have been regulated. I think that would help a lot.

    Sound Clip Sources

    Article: The day after Mueller, The Intercept, March 27, 2019.

    News Report: Timeline: ITC chemical tank fire in Deer Park, KHOU 11, March 25, 2019.

    News Release: Statement from the US Chemical Safety Board on recent tank fires in Deer Park, TX, CSB, March 21, 2019.

    News Report: Manifold leak blamed as initial cause of massive storage tank fire in Deer Park, KHOU 11 Investigates, March 19, 2019.

    Video: West TX plant explosion, KTBC Fox 7 Austin, April 18, 2013.

    Video: West Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion with FD EMS PD Radio Traffic, Alertpage, YouTube, April 18, 2013.

    Music Video Clip: Can I Get a Witness by Marvin Gaye, Vlipsy.

    Additional Reading

    Report: Regional emphasis program for fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) and agricultural anhydrous ammonia facilities, OSHA Regional Notice, U.S. Department of Labor, October 1, 2018.

    Article: Remembering, healing together: Five years after blast, West is rebuilt but emotional tripwires remain by J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune-Herald, April 16, 2018.

    News: CFATS personnel surety program expanding to tier 3 and tier 4 high-risk chemical facilities, Roberts Law Group News, Chemical Security Gropu LLC, December 27, 2017.

    Report: West Fertilizer Explosion and Fire: Final Report, CSB, January 29, 2016.

    Article: Former Oregonian Mariano Saldivar, killed in Texas plant explosion, will be laid to rest Monday by Stuart Tomlinson, The Oregonian/Oregon Live, April 25, 2013.

    Report: Death toll in West, Texas, fertilizer explosion rises to 15 by Bill Chappell, NPR, April 23, 2013.

    Resources

    BASF: Statement of Income, BASF Report 2018

    H.R.251: Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act

    H.R.4007: Sponsor and co-sponsors of the CFACTS Act of 2014

    Homeland Security: CFATS and the Executive Order 13650

    Homeland Security: CFATS Expedited Approval Program

    Homeland Security: CFATS Tiering Methodology

    Homeland Security: Risk-Based Performance Standards (RBPS)

    Homeland Security Publication: Risk-Based Performance Standards Guidance: Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, May 2009.

    GovInfo.gov: Department of Homeland Security, Federal Register, December 27, 2017.

    LinkedIn Profile: David Wulf, Director, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

    Website: CSB.gov

    Community Suggestions

    See Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • Things often don’t go according to plan. In this episode, featuring a feverish and frustrated Jen Briney, learn about the shamefully rushed process employed by the Democrats to pass their top priority bill, H.R. 1, through the House of Representatives.

    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD129: The Impeachment of John Koskinen Bill Outline: HR 1 For The People Act of 2019

    Govtrack - Full Text

    Official title: “To expand American’s access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.”

    Short Title: For the People Act of 2019

    Sponsor: Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-3)

    First co-sponsor: Nancy Pelosi

    Referred to 10 committees:

    House Administration House Intelligence (Permanent Select) House Judiciary House Oversight and Government Reform House Science, Space, and Technology House Education and the Workforce House Ways and Means House Financial Services House Ethics House Homeland Security Division A: Voting TITLE I: ELECTION ACCESS

    Subtitle A: Voter Registration Modernization “Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2019"

    Part 1: Promoting Internet Registration

    Sec. 1001: Every State Has to Allow Us To Register to Vote Online

    Requires every State to allow residents to register to vote online and be given an online receipt of their completed voter registration application Signatures can be electronic as long as the individual has a signature on file with a State agency, including the DMV. People who don’t have signatures on file can submit handwritten signatures through digital means or sign in person on Election Day. Signatures will be required on Election Day for people who registered to vote online and have not previously voted in a Federal election in that state.

    Sec. 1002: Every State Has To Allow Us To Update Our Registration Online

    States must allow registered voters to update their registrations online too

    Sec. 1003: Voter Information Online Instead Of Regular Mail

    Tells states to include a space for voters to submit an email address and get voting information via email instead of using regular mail (we may need that to be “in addition to”) Prohibits our emails from being given to anyone who is outside the government. The State will have to provide people who opted for emails, at least 7 days before the election, online information including the name and address of the voter’s polling place, that polling place’s hours, and which IDs the voter may need to vote at that polling place.

    Sec. 1004: 'Valid Voter Registration' Form Definition

    Defines what is a “valid voter registration form”: The form is accurate and the online applicant provided a signature.

    Sec. 1005: Effective Date: January 1, 2020.

    Part 2: Automatic Voter Registration “Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2019"

    Sec. 1012: Automatic Registration of Eligible Voters

    Every State will have to create and operate a system for automatically registering everyone eligible to vote “for Federal office in the State”. The States will have 15 days to register a person to vote after getting updated voter information from another agency.

    Sec. 1015: "Voter Protection and Security in Automatic Registration"

    Declining automatic registration can’t be used as evidence “In any State or Federal law enforcement proceeding" States will have to keep records of all changes to voter records, including removals and updates, for 2 years and make those available for public inspection. Gives the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology the power to write the rules for how States can use voter information to deem a person ineligible and to write privacy and security standards for voter registration information Voter registration information “shall not be used for commercial purposes.”

    Sec. 1016: Corrections to Voter Information Can Be Done on Election Day

    Voters in all States would be able to update their address, name, or political party affiliation in person on Election Day, and they could vote using the corrected information using a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.

    Sec. 1017: The Federal Government Will Pay to Make The Changes

    Authorizes $500 million for 2019, available until it’s gone.

    Sec. 1021: Effective Date - January 1, 2021

    Part 3: Same Day Voter Registration

    Sec. 1031: Voters Can Register At the Polling Place On Election Day

    System would have to be in place by November 2020

    Part 4: Conditions on Removal on Basis of Interstate Cross-Checks

    Sec. 1041: Requirements To Use Cross Check To Remove Voters

    Prohibits States from using interstate crosscheck systems to remove people from voter rules until the State receives the voter’s full name, including their middle name, date of birth, and last 4 digits of their social security numbers and if the State has documentation verifying the voter is no longer a resident of the State. Interstate cross checks can not be used to remove voters from rolls within six months of an election Effective date: Six months after enactment

    Part 7: Prohibiting Interference with Voter Registration

    Sec. 1071: Fines and Prison For Interference in Voter Registration

    People who prevent another person from registering to vote, or attempt to prevent another person from registering, “shall be fined” or imprisoned for up to five years, or both. Effective date: Elections on or after enactment

    Subtitle B: Access to Voting for Individuals With Disabilities

    Subtitle C: Prohibiting Voter Caging

    Sec. 1201: Prohibits Removal of Names Based Solely on Caging Lists

    State/local election officials will not be allowed to deny a voter registration if the decision is based on a voter caging document, an unverified match list, or an error on a registration that is not material to the citizen’s eligibility to vote. Challenges to voter registration by non-election officials will only be allowed if the person has personal knowledge documented in writing and subject to an attestation under penalty of perjury. Penalties for knowingly challenging the eligibility of someone else’s voter registration with the intent to disqualify that person is punishable by a fine and/or one year in prison for each violation.

    Subtitle D : Prohibiting Deceptive Practices and Preventing Voter Intimidation - “Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2019"

    Sec. 1302: Prohibits Lying To Prevent People From Voting

    Makes it illegal to communicate by any means false information regarding the time and place of an election, the voter’s registration status or eligibility, or criminal penalties for voting within 60 days of an election if the communication has the intent of preventing another person from voting. Makes it illegal, within 60 days of an election, to communicate by any means false information regarding an endorsement by a person or political party that didn’t actually happen. Penalties: A fine of up to $100,000, five years in prison, or both. The penalties are the same for attempts to lie to people to prevent them from voting.

    Subtitle E: Democracy Restoration - “Democracy Restoration Act of 2019"

    Sec. 1402: Voting Rights Extend to Ex-Cons

    “The right of an individual who is a citizen of the United States to vote in any election for Federal office shall not be denied or abridged because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense unless such individual is serving a felony sentence in a correctional institution or facility at the time of the election."

    Sec. 1408: Effective for any election held after enactment

    Subtitle F: Promoting Accuracy, Integrity, and Security Through Verified Permanent Paper Ballot - “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2019”

    Sec. 1502: Requires Paper Ballots for All Federal Elections

    Requires all voting systems to use individual paper ballots that are verified by the voter before their vote is cast which “shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device” The paper ballots must be preserved as the official ballots and will be counted by hand for recounts and audits If there is a difference between the electronic vote count and the hand count of paper ballots, the hand count of paper ballots will be the final count.

    Subtitle H: Early Voting

    Sec. 1611: Every State Must Allow Early Voting for 15 Days

    Every State will be required to allow citizens to vote in Federal elections during the 15 days preceding the election, with polls open for at least 4 hours per day except on Sundays. Effective Date: Elections after January 1, 2020

    Subtitle I: Voting by Mail

    Sec. 1621: Vote By Mail National Standards

    States can’t count absentee ballots until they match the signature on the ballot to the signature on the State’s official list of registered voters States must provide ballots and voting materials at least 2 weeks before the election Effective date: Elections held on or after January 1, 2020

    Subtitle J: Absent Uniformed Services Voters and Overseas Voters

    Subtitle K: Poll Worker Recruitment and Training

    Sec. 1801: Federal Employees As Poll Workers

    Employees of Federal agencies will be allowed to be excused from work for up to 6 days in order to work in polling places on Election Day and for training.

    Subtitle L: Enhancement of Enforcement

    Subtitle M: Federal Election Integrity

    Sec. 1821: Head of Elections Can’t Campaign for Elections They Oversee

    It will be illegal for a chief State election administration official to take part in a political campaign “with respect to any election for Federal office over which such official has supervisory authority”

    Subtitle N: Promoting Voter Access Through Election Administration Improvements

    Sec. 1902: Notification for Polling Place Changes

    States must notify voters at least seven days in advance if the State has changed their polling place to somewhere other than where they last voted Effective January 1, 2020

    Sec. 1903: Election Day Holiday

    The Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2020 and each even-numbered year after that will be treated as a legal public holiday Encourages, but does not require, the private sector to give their workers the day off for elections

    Sec. 1904: Sworn Written Statements to Meet ID Requirements

    If a State requires an ID to vote, a person may vote if they provide, in person, a sworn written statement signed under penalty of perjury attesting to their identity and that they are eligible to vote, unless they are first time voters in the State. Effective for elections occurring on or after enactment

    Sec. 1905: Postage Free Ballots

    Absentee ballots will not require postage The Post Office will be reimbursed by States for the lost revenue TITLE II: ELECTION INTEGRITY

    Subtitle E: Redistricting Reform - “Redistricting Reform Act of 2019”

    Sec. 2402: Independent Commissions for Redistricting

    Congressional redistricting must be done by an independent redistricting commission established in the State or by a plan development and enacted into law by a 3 judge court of the US District Court for the District of Columbia

    Sec. 2411: Creating the Independent Redistricting Commissions

    The Commissions will be made up of 15 members from the “selection pool” (see Sec. 2412) 5 members will be selected randomly from the 12 belonging to the political party with the most registered voters in the State 5 members will be selected randomly from the 12 belonging to the political party with the second most registered voters in the State 5 members will be selected randomly from the 12 who are not affiliated with the two largest political parties The Chair must be a member of the group that is not affiliated with the largest two parties in the State and will be selected via a majority vote of the commission The State can not finalize a redistricting plan unless the plan gets a vote from someone in each of the three membership categories and it passes with a majority of the commission voting yes. Contractors for the commission can be required to provide their political contribution history

    Sec. 2412: Eligibility for the Independent Commission “Selection Pool”

    To qualify, the individual must... Be registered to vote Either be with the same political party or with no political party for the previous 3 years Submits an application including a declaration of their political party, if they belong to one, and a commitment to impartiality. An individual is disqualified if the individual or an immediate family member within the 5 years preceding their appointment... Holds public office or is a candidate for public office Serves as an officer of a political party or as a political party consultant Is a registered lobbyist Is an employee of an elected public official, a contractor with the legislature of a State, or a donor who gives more than $20,000 to candidates for public offices. The selection pool will have 36 individuals made up of... 12 individuals affiliated with the political party with the largest percentage of registered voters in the State 12 individuals affiliated with the political party with the second largest percentage of registered voters in the State 12 individuals who are not affiliated with either of the two largest political parties The selection pool must be approved by the State’s Select Committee on Redistricting Inaction is a rejection of the selection pool

    Sec. 2413: Criteria for New Districts

    Districts must be created using this criteria in this order: Districts must comply with the Constitution, including the requirement that the equalize total population Districts must comply with the Voting Rights Act and all Federal laws Districts can’t be drawn in a way that dilutes the ability for minority communities to elect candidates Districts must minimize the division of neighborhoods, counties, municipalities, and school districts “to the extent practicable” Districts may not be drawn to favor or disfavor any political party The commission may not consider the political party affiliation or voting history of the district’s population or the resident of any member of the House of Representatives when drawing the district maps All meetings must be held in public, must take comments into consideration and they must publish information, including video archives, about their meetings on a public website

    Sec. 2431: Authorizes payments to States of $150,000 per district to help pay for the redistricting process

    Subtitle F: Saving Voters from Voter Purging -“Stop Automatically Voiding Eligible Voters Off Their Enlisted Rolls in States Act” - “Save Voters Act”

    Sec. 2502: Restricting Voter Roll Purges

    States can’t use the failure of a voter to vote or the voter’s failure to respond to a notice as the basis for removing their name from the voter rolls TITLE III: ELECTION SECURITY

    Subtitle A: Financial Support for Election Infrastructure

    Part 1: Voting System Security Improvement Gains Part 2: Grants for Risk-Limiting Audits of Results of Elections Part 3: Election Infrastructure Innovation Grant Program

    Subtitle B: Security Measures

    Subtitle C: Enhancing Protections for United Stated Democratic Institutions

    Subtitle D : Promoting Cybersecurity Through Improvements in Election Administration

    Subtitle E: Preventing Election Hacking

    Division B: Campaign Finance TITLE IV: CAMPAIGN FINANCE TRANSPARENCY

    Subtitle B: DISCLOSE Act - “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act”

    Part 1: Regulation of Certain Political Spending

    Sec. 4101: Foreign Owned Corporations Count as “Foreign Nationals”

    Makes it illegal for a corporation, LLC, or partnership which is more than 5% owned by a foreign government or 20% owned by foreign individual to directly or indirectly make a contribution in connection with a Federal, State, or local election or a contribution to a political party. It’s also illegal for Americans to accept or solicit a contribution from “foreign nationals” (amends 52 U.S.C 30121(b)) Effective 180 days after enactment, regardless of if regulations are done

    Part 2: Reporting of Campaign-Related Disbursements

    Sec. 4111: Corporations Must Report Donations

    Any corporation, LLC, or tax exempt organization (other than 501(c)3 “charities”) that make campaign contributions totaling more than $10,000 in the 2 year election cycle must file a statement containing the name of the donating organization, the business address, a list of that business or corporations’ controlling owners, and the name/address of the person who received each donation of more than $1,000. If the corporation, LLC, or tax exempt organization pays for a public communication, they must report the name of any candidate identified and whether the communication was in support or opposition to that candidate.

    Subtitle C: Honest Ads - “Honest Ads Act”

    Sec. 4205: Disclosure of Sources of Online Political Ads

    Extends political ad disclosure laws to internet and other digital communication

    Sec. 4207: Disclosures Must Be Clear

    Ads must include a statement telling us the name of the person who paid for the communication in a way that is not difficult to read or hear

    Sec. 4208: Public Record of Online Political Ads * Requires online platforms to create and make available online for public inspection a complete record of requests to purchase political advertisements if they purchase more than $500 worth in one calendar year

    Subtitle D : Stand by Every Ad - “Stand By Every Ad Act"

    Subtitle E: Secret Money Transparency

    Sec. 4401: IRS Can Investigate Dark Money Groups Again

    Repeals the restriction enacted by the 115th Congress on the IRS that prevented them from making sure tax exempt organizations aren’t using their funds for political expenditures

    Subtitle F: Shareholder Right-to-Know

    Sec. 4501: SEC Can Enforce Shareholder Disclosure Laws

    Repeals the restriction enacted by the 115th Congress on the Securities and Exchange Commission that prevented them from enforcing laws related to corporations informing shareholders about the corporations political activity.

    Subtitle G: Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors

    Sec. 4601: Contractors Can Be Forced to Disclose Donations

    Repeals the restriction enacted by the 115th Congress that prevented requiring government contractors to report their political spending

    Subtitle H: Limitation and Disclosure Requirements for Presidential Inaugural Committees - “Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight Act"

    TITLE V: CAMPAIGN FINANCE EMPOWERMENT

    Subtitle B: Congressional Elections - “Government By the People Act of 2019”

    Part 1: My Voice Voucher Pilot Program

    Sec. 5101: Voucher Pilot Program

    The Federal Election Commission will create an pilot program and select 3 states to operate it

    Sec. 5102: Pilot Program Details

    State’s will provided individuals who request one a “My Voice Voucher" worth $25 Individuals can give their voucher dollars, in $5 increments, to qualified candidates for Congress.

    Part 2: Small Dollar Financing of Congressional Election Campaigns

    Sec. 5111: 6x Matching of Small Dollar Donations

    Payments will be 600% of the amount of small dollar contributions received by the candidate during the Small Dollar Democracy qualifying period Small dollar contribution is between $1 and $200 Limit: The total amount of payments made to a candidate may not be more than 50% of the average of the “20 greatest amounts of disbursements made by the authorized committees of any winning candidate for the office of Representatives in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress during the most recent election cycle, rounded to the nearest $100,000.” Candidates can get an additional payment of up to $500,000 during the period between 60 days and 14 days before the election, which doesn’t count towards the total limit. Candidates are eligible if they can get 1,000 people to make a small dollar contribution and if the candidate can raise at least $50,000. Eligible candidates can’t take more than $1,000 total from any individual. Eligible candidates can’t use more than $50,000 in personal funds. Will be funded by a “Freedom of Influence Fund"

    Sec. 5112: Coordination with Parties

    Sec. 5114: Effective starting in 2024 elections

    Subtitle C: Presidential Elections - “Empower Act of 2019"

    Part 1: Primary Elections Part 2: General Elections Part 3: Effective Date

    Subtitle D : Personal Use Services as Authorized Campaign Expenditures - “Help America Run Act”

    TITLE VI: CAMPAIGN FINANCE OVERSIGHT

    Subtitle A: Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections

    Sec. 6002: Changes to FEC make up

    Subtitle B: Stopping Super PAC-Candidate Coordination

    Division C: Ethics TITLE VII: ETHICAL STANDARDS

    Subtitle B: Foreign Agents Registration

    Sec. 7101: New Department of Justice Investigation Unit

    Will be dedicated to enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act

    Subtitle C: Lobbying Disclosure Reform

    Sec. 7201: Expands Definition of “Lobbyist”

    To include people who provide “legislative, political, and strategic counseling services, research, and other background work” as lobbyists in terms of disclosure requirements Effective upon enactment

    Subtitle D : Recusal of Presidential Appointees

    Sec. 7301: Recusal of Appointees

    Any officer or employee appointed by the President must recuse themselves from any matter involving the President who appointed the officer or employee or that President’s spouse. TITLE VIII: ETHICS REFORMS FOR THE PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, AND FEDERAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES

    Subtitle A: Executive Branch Conflict of Interest

    Sec. 8002: Prohibits Private Sector Payments for Entering Government

    Private companies can’t provide bonus payments, pensions, retirement, group life/health/accident insurance, profit-sharing, stock bonus, or other payments contingent on accepting a position in the U.S. Government.

    Sec. 8003: Slowing the Revolving Door

    Executive Branch employees can’t use their government position to “participate in a particular matter” if they know a company they worked for in the last two years has a financial interest. Penalty: Fine and/or 1 year in prison. Penalty for willful violation: Fine and/or up to 5 years in prison Civil penalties: The greater of $100,000 per violation or the amount the person received or was offered for conducting the violation

    Sec. 8004: Waiting Period For Procurement Officers To Work for Contractors

    A former official responsible for a government contract can not accept payments from any division, affiliate, or subcontractor of the chosen contractor for 2 years after awarding the contract. A government employee can not award a contract to his or her former employer for 2 years after they leave the company.

    Sec. 8005: Lobbying Job Waiting Period

    Senior level Executive Branch employees have to wait 2 years before they can be paid to influence their former colleagues

    Subtitle B: Presidential Conflicts of Interest

    Subtitle C: White House Ethics Transparency

    Subtitle D : Executive Branch Ethics Enforcement

    Subtitle E: Conflicts for Political Fundraising

    Sec. 8042: Disclosure of Certain Types of Contributions

    People who are nominated to high level Executive Branch offices will have to disclose their contributions to political organizations, 501(c)4’s, and 501(c)6’s.

    Subtitle F: Transition Team Ethics

    Subtitle G: Ethics Pledge for Senior Executive Branch Employees

    TITLE IX: CONGRESSIONAL ETHICS REFORM

    Subtitle A: Requiring members of Congress to Reimburse Treasury for Amounts Paid as Settlements and Awards Under Congressional Accountability Act of 1995

    Subtitle B: Conflicts of Interest

    Sec. 9101: Members Can’t Be on For-Profit Boards of Directors

    Changes the House Rules so that members of the House of Representatives will not be allowed to serve on the board of "any for-profit entity" while serving in the House of Representatives.

    Sec. 9103: Prohibition Above Can Be Changed via House Rules

    Subtitle C: Campaign Finance and Lobbying Disclosure - “Connecting Lobbying and Electeds for Accountability and Reform Act” “CLEAR Act"

    Sec. 9202: Separate Reports for Lobbyist Donations

    Report submitted by political campaigns will have to report which donations are made by registered lobbyists in a separate statement (amends 52 U.S.C. 30104(b))

    Sec. 9203: Effective 90 Days After Enactment

    Subtitle D : Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports

    Sec. 9303: Online Portal for Congressionally Mandated Reports

    Portal will create, within one year of enactment, an online portal providing free public digital access to all congressionally mandated reports Reports will be available within 30 days of their submission to Congress TITLE X: PRESIDENTIAL AND VICE PRESIDENTIAL TAX TRANSPARENCY

    Sec. 10001: Presidential and Vice Presidential Tax Return Disclosure

    Requires candidates for President and Vice President to submit their tax returns for the last 10 taxable years to the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of declaring their candidacy The chairman of the Federal Election Commission must make the candidates’ tax returns, with personal information redacted, publicly available Effective upon enactment Additional Reading

    Article: 10 things you might not know about HR 1 by Lindsey McPherson and Kate Ackley, Roll Call, March 6, 2019.

    Article: Conservative expert privately warned GOP donors that a voting rights bill would help Democrats by Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, The Intercept, February 27, 2019.

    Article: House Democrats forge ahead on electoral reform bill by Zach Montellaro, Politico, February 26, 2019.

    Markup: H.R. 1, For the People Act of 2019, February 26 ,2019.

    Article: House Democrats officially unveil their first bill in the majority: a sweeping anti-corruption proposal by Ella Nilson, Vox, January 4, 2019.

    Article: One state fixed its gerrymandered districts, the other didnt. Here's how the election played out in both by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, November 9, 2018.

    Article: 6 takeaways from Georgia's 'Use It Or Lose It' voter purge investigation by Johnny Kauffman, NPR, October 22, 2018.

    Article: Registration is a voter-suppression tool. Let's finally end it by Ellen Kurz, The Washington Post, October 11, 2018.

    Report: Purges: A growing threat to the right to vote by Jonathan Brater, Kevin Morris, Myrna Pérez, and Christopher Deluzio, Brennan Center for Justice, July 20, 2018.

    Article: How Maryland Democrats pulled off their aggressive gerrymander by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, March 28, 2018.

    Article: Pennsylvania Supreme Court draws 'much more competitive' district map to overturn Republican gerrymander by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, February 20, 2018.

    Article: Pennsylvania redistricting decision gives Democrats a boost by Bill Barrow and Mark Scolforo, AP News, February 6, 2018.

    Article: How redistricting became a technological arms race by Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic, October 28, 2017.

    Article: Government by Goldman by Gary Rivlin and Michael Hudson, The Intercept, September 17, 2017.

    Article: The most gerrymandered states ranked by efficiency gap and seat advantage by Daniel McGlone and Esther Needham, Azavea, July 19, 2017.

    Article: Here are the first 10 members of Trump's voting commission by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, July 6, 2017.

    Article: 3 Trump Cabinet officials will still be receiving millions from corporate America by Jeff Stein, Vox, February 3, 2017.

    Article: Trump adviser Gary Cohn's $285 million Goldman Sachs exit raises eyebrows by Matt Egan, CNN Business, January 27, 2017.

    Article: The IRS gives up on fighting 'dark money' by Editorial Board, The Washington Post, February 19, 2016.

    Article: How Crossroads GPS beat the IRS and became a social welfare group by Robert Maguire, OpenSecrets.org, Febraury 12, 2016.

    Blog: Congress uses PATH to cut IRS off from Section 501(c)(4) social welfare regulations, Wagenmaker & Oberly, December 30, 2015.

    Article: This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, March 1, 2015.

    Article: Five 501(c)(3) groups that might have broken the law by Lee Fang, The Nation, May 21, 2013.

    Article: The voter-fraud myth by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, October 29, 2012.

    Article: Justice Dept. accused of partisan voter-roll purge by Pam Fessler, NPR, October 11, 2007.

    Resources

    Congressional Budget Office: H.R. 1, Estimated Effects on Direct Spending and Revenues

    Federal Election Commission: Using Campaign Funds for Personal Use

    How Stuff Works: PACs vs. Super PACs

    Research: All About Redistricting - Who draws the lines?

    Website: The Redistricting Majority Project

    Website: RepresentUs

    Sound Clip Sources Short Film: Unbreaking America: A NEW Short Film about Solving the Corruption Crisis, RepresentUs, YouTube, February 27, 2019. Full Committee Markup: H.R. 1, The For the People Act of 2019, Committee on House Administration, February 26, 2019. Youtube Video Hearing: For the People: Our American Democracy, Committee on House Administration, February 14, 2019. Youtube Video

    Witnesses:

    Chiraag Bains - Director of Legal Strategies at Demos Wendy Weiser - Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennen Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law Fred Wertheimer -President of Democracy 21 Kym Wyman - Secretary of State of Washington Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, Senior at Dodge City High School in Kansas and plaintiff in LULAC & Rangel-Lopez v. Cox Peter Earle - Wisconsin Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Brandon Jessup - Data Science and Information Systems Professional and Executive Director at Michigan Forward David Keating - President at the Institute for Free Speech Hearing: Full Committee Hearing on the "Strengthening Ethics Rules for the Executive Branch", Committee on Oversight and Reform, February 6, 2019. YouTube Video

    Witnesses:

    Scott Amey - General Counsel, Project on Government Oversight Karen Hobert Flynn - President of Common Cause Rudy Mehrbani - Spitzer Fellow and Senior Counsel, Brennen Center for Justice Walter Schaub Jr - Senior Advisor, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Bradley Smith - Chairman at the Institute for Free Speech

    Sound Clips:

    17:30 Rep. Elijah Cummings (D - MD) Title eight includes a bill that I introduced called the executive branch ethics reform act. It would, it would ban senior officials from accepting "golden parachute" payments from private sector employers in exchange for their government service. This would have prevented Gary Cohn from receiving more than $100 million in accelerated payments from Goldman Sachs while leading the Trump administration's efforts to slash corporate taxes.

    19:00 Cummings Title eight also would make clear that Congress expects the president to divest his business holdings just as every single president since Jimmy Carter has done and place them in an independent and truly blind trust.

    28:00 Rep. Jim Jordan (R - OH) In 2013 we learned that the IRS targeted conservative for their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle systematically for a sustained period of time. They went after people for their conservative beliefs, plan in place, targeted people. They did it. The gross abuse of power would have continued, if not for the efforts of this committee. 2014 the Obama Administration doubled down and attempted to use the IRS rule making process to gut the ability of social welfare organizations to participate in public debate. Congress has so far prevented this regulation from going into effect, but HR 1 would change that.

    28:30 Jordan Furthermore, this bill would roll back another critical victory for privacy and free speech secured just last summer following efforts by this committee and others, the IRS changed its policy as it relates to schedule B information. Schedule B contains personal information like names, addresses, and the amounts donated to nonprofit entities. Even though this information is supposed to remain private under current law, states and federal government have leaked these personal details in the past. In changing its policies, the IRS noted that there had been at least 14 breaches resulting in the unauthorized disclosure of schedule B information just since 2010. The result was everyday Americans receiving death threats and mail containing white powder. All because someone disagreed with what they believe and who they gave their hard earned money to.

    59:00 Walter Schaub HR 1 addresses big payouts to incoming officials. These golden parachutes raise concerns about an employee appointees loyalty to a former employer. When former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew left Wall Street to join the State Department, he received a large bonus in his employment agreement. Let him keep that bonus specifically because he landed at a high level government job.

    1:04:00 Bradley Smith Subtitle B of title six is called Stopping Super PAC and candidate coordination. The sponsors and drafters are either being intentionally disingenuous here or are they simply do not understand what has been put into their own legislation. Nothing in subtitle B, nothing limits. It's reached a super PACs. It applies to every union trade association, advocacy group and unincorporated association in the country. It applies to planned parenthood and right to life, to the NAACP and the ACLU to the national federation of Independent Business and to the Brady Campaign for gun safety. It even applies to individual citizens who seek to participate in public discussion. Nothing. This cannot be said often enough limits it to super PACs through the interplay of its definitions of coordination and coordinated spenders. The laws treatment, uh, traditional treatment of coordinated spending as a contribution to a candidate and current contribution limits in the law. Subtitle be, will actually have the effect of banning, not limiting, but actually banning a great deal of speech that was legal even before the Supreme Court's decision in citizens United versus FEC and Buckley v Vallejo.

    1:39:00 Smith I would only add that I think that the disclosure provisions are often worse than people think because they're defining as political activity things that have never been defined as political before. And you run the risk of a regulation swallowing up the entire, uh, discourse in which public, uh, engages. So I would only say that I think the provisions are worse than people think and that they're often hidden through the complex interrelationship of different positions. Well, one, one example would be if an organization, uh, for example, were to hire somebody who had previously been an intern, a paid intern for a member of Congress, that organization would then be prohibited from making any communications that were deemed to promote a tax support or oppose a that candidate. And that vague term could apply to almost anything praising the candidate for introducing a bill, uh, criticizing the congressman for opposing a bill, whatever it might be. Jordan Wow. That put the whole consultant business in this town out of business, it seems to me. Smith It's not just the consulting business. Oh, of course. It puts out of business all of the interest groups and all of the civic groups that people belong to.

    1:43:00 Cummings One year ago today when my mother's dying bed at 92 years old, former sharecropper, her last words were, do not let them take our votes away from us. They had fought, she had fought and seen people harmed and beaten, trying to vote. Talk about inalienable rights. Voting is crucial, and I don't give a damn how you look at it. There are efforts to stop people from voting. That's not right. This is not Russia. This is the United States of America, and I will fight until the death to make sure every citizen, whether they're Green party, whether they're Freedom Party, whether they're Democrat, whether you're Republican, whoever has that right to vote.

    1:46:00 Karen Hobert Flynn Election day registration is a perfect antidote to a purge so that you can show up on election day. If you see that there's a problem, then you can register to vote and vote on that day.

    2:19:00 Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R - ND) North Dakota is the only state in the country without voter registration. We have voting. We have counties that vote exclusively by mail, and we currently have no excuse, absentee ballot, absentee voting. We have, we allow felons to vote immediately upon release from prison. Um, our poll workers are almost exclusively volunteers across the entire state. So in short, we have the, the best and easiest vote voting, voting booth access in the entire country, and we are incredibly proud of that.

    2:23:00 Armstrong North, we, and this might be a little change, but it's really important to the voters in North Dakota. So we, uh, we start our absentee or early voting process, I think for military deployed overseas, it says early as August. And we have, as I said, no excuse absentee ballots. But what we require is that our ballots are postmarked the day before the election. And in North Dakota, we really, really try to make sure the election is over on election day. Um, north Dakotans don't understand how an election can change by 12, 13, 14,000 votes in the two to three weeks after an election day. Now I'm not in the business and telling people in California or somewhere else how to do their voting laws, but that just is something that is not appropriate here. And this would require ballots to be postmarked up until election day, correct? That's correct.

    2:24:00 Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) I wish Mr. Meadows were still here because I'm delighted that he's thinking of stepping into the small donor matching system that has proposed an HR 1. Because when you step into that system, you step into a system that is owned by the people. This is why it's in the bill because the public is tired of feeling like their elections, their system, their government, their democracy is owned by special interests, big corporations, Wall Street, oil and gas industry, super PACs, lobbyists, everybody. But then this is the power move. They want to own their democracy again.

    2:27:00 Sarbanes Somebody said, why are we hooking all these things together? Voting ethics, campaign finance, because the people have told us, if you just do one and you don't do the others were still frozen out. The system is still rigged. You fix the voting stuff, but if you go to Washington and nobody's behaving themselves, that doesn't solve the problem or you fix the ethics part, but we're still, the system is still owned by the big money in the special interests because they're the ones that are underwriting the campaigns. Then we're still left out. The system is still rigged. You got to do all of these things together to reset the democracy in a place where it respects the average citizen out there. Who right now is sitting in their kitchen, they're looking at the TV screen there. They're hearing about billionaires and super PACs who are making decisions inside conference rooms somewhere on K Street that affect their lives and all they're saying is we want back in. We're tired of sitting out here with our nose is pressed against the window looking in on the democracy that we have no impact on. That's why we're linking all of these things together to reset the table. So the special interests aren't the ones that are calling the shots.

    2:29:00 Sarbanes The provisions of transparency in this bill are targeted to mega donors who give more than $10,000 who right now are hidden behind this Russian doll kind of structure where you can't see who it is, who's behind the curtain, who's putting all this money into campaigns. The public wants to know that that's reasonable.

    2:38:00 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) And I'm deeply troubled at what appears to be a Russian engagement through 501(c)(4)s in this country, whether it's the NRA or, um, other, uh, nonprofits that are created for the express purpose here in the United States to lobby on behalf of Russia as it related to the Magnitsky Act. Um, so right now there is no limitation on how much money can be contributed by a foreign government entity to a 501(c)(4). Is that correct? Hobert Flynn I believe that is, yes. Speier And there is no disclosure required as well. Is that correct? Hobert Flynn I believe that's right. Speier So in your estimation, would it be prudent for us to one, limit the amount of contributions that a foreign individual can make to a 501(c)(4), and two, that all of that be subject to disclosure? Hobert Flynn Yeah, I think, I think it would be very important. Um, you know, there are limits. There are bans on foreign nationals giving money in campaign contributions, and I think we should be looking at those kinds of limits for, um, and it's certainly disclosure for, um, contributions to 501(c)(4)s.

    2:56:00 Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) You hear so much attack on political action committees, PACs, Mr. Smith, or maybe you'd be best one to answer this. I don't know, maybe I don't want us to answer it. Where do political action committees get their money? Smith Political action committees get their money from individuals. Traditional PACs do. Now Super PACS as they're called, can take money from corporations and unions, but they are not able to contribute directly to candidates. Sort of coordinate anything with candidates. Gibbs I appreciate that. Uh, make the point. Um, because I, I got attacked because I take political action money, but it comes from businesses in my district. A lot of it, it comes from associations. You know, everybody has somebody lobbying for them in DC. I mean, if you're, if you're a member, of a retirement association, any organization, you've got a lobbyist here.

    2:57:00 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Let's play a game, let's play a lightening round game. I'm going to be the bad guy, which I'm sure half the room would agree with anyway. And um, and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible, ideally to enrich myself and advance my interest even if that means putting, uh, putting my interests ahead of the American people. So, um, Mrs Holbert Flynn. Oh, and by the way, I have listed all of you as my co conspirators, so you're going to help me legally get away with all of this. So Mrs Herbert Flynn, I want to run, if I want to run a campaign that is entirely funded by corporate political action committees, is that, is there anything that legally prevents me from doing that? Hobert Flynn No. Ocasio-Cortez Okay. So there's nothing stopping me from being entirely funded by corporate PACs, say from the fossil fuel industry, the healthcare industry, big Pharma. I'm entirely 100% lobbyists PAC funded. Okay. So let's see. I'm a really, really bad guy and let's see, I've have some skeletons in my closet that I need to cover it up so that I can get elected. Um, Mr. Smith, is it true that you wrote this article, this opinion piece for the Washington Post entitled These Payments to Women Were Unseemly? That doesn't mean they were illegal. Smith Well, I can't see the piece but I wrote a piece or that headline in the post's so I assume that's right. Ocasio-Cortez Okay, great. So green-light for hush money, I can do all sorts of terrible things. It's totally legal right now for me to pay people off and that is considered speech. That money is considered speech. So I use my special interest, dark money funded campaign to pay off folks that I need to pay off and get elected. So now I'm elected, now I'm in, I've got the power to draft, lobby and shape the laws that govern the United States of America. Fabulous. Now is there any hard limit that I have, perhaps Mrs Herbert Flynn? Is there any hard limit that I have in terms of what legislation I'm allowed to touch? Are there any limits on the laws that I can write or influence? Especially if I'm a based on the special interest funds that I accepted to finance my campaign and get me elected in the first place. Herbert Flynn There's no limit. Ocasio-Cortez So there's none. So I can be totally funded by oil and gas that can be totally funded by big Pharma come in. Right. Big Pharma laws and there's no limits to that whatsoever. Herbert Flynn That's right. Ocasio-Cortez Okay, so awesome. Now, uh, now Mr Mehrabani, the last thing I want to do is get rich with as little work possible. That's really what I'm trying to do as the bad guy. Right? So is there anything preventing me from holding stocks say in an oil or gas company and then writing laws to deregulate that that industry and cause you know, that could potentially cause the stock value to soar and accrue a lot of money in that time, Rudy Mehrbani You could do that. Ocasio-Cortez So I could do that. I could do that. Now with the way our current laws are set up. Yes? Mehrbani Yes. Ocasio-Cortez Okay, great. Okay. So my last question is, or one of my last questions, I guess I'd say is, is it possible that any elements of this story apply to our current government in our current public servants right now? Mehrbani Yes. Ocasio-Cortez So we have a system that is fundamentally broken. We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now. Would you say that that's correct, Mr Mehrbani or Mr Shaub? Mehrbani Yes. Ocasio-Cortez Alright. So one last thing, Mr Shaub, in relation to congressional oversight that we have, the limits that are placed on me as a congress woman compared to the executive branch and compared to say, the president of the United States, would you say that Congress has the same sort of standard of accountability? Are there, is there more teeth in that regulation in Congress on the president? Or would you say it's about even or more so on the federal? Schaub Um, in terms of laws that apply to the president, there's just almost no laws at all that applied to the president. Ocasio-Cortez So I'm being held and every person in this body is being held to a higher ethical standard than the president of the United States. Schaub That's right. Cause or some committee ethics committee rules that apply to you. Ocasio-Cortez And it's already super legal as we've seen for me to be a pretty bad guy. So it's even easier for the president of the United States to be one, I would assume. Schaub That's right. Ocasio-Cortez Thank you very much.

    3:04:00 Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) Uh, and when we think about what we're dealing with, with respect to a campaign finance, uh, are you familiar with doxing? Smith In the sense of outing people online that you're referring to? Yes, generally. Roy So for example, are you familiar with a Twitter account called every Trump donor, which tweeted out one by one, the names, hometowns, occupations, employers, the people who contribute as little as $200 to the president's campaign, each tweet, following a particular formula. My point being in the question for you is, when we talk about campaign disclosures, are we aware of the negative impacts that you have on forcing American citizens and exercising their free speech to have that information be disclosed? Whether that's good policy or not might be debatable, but is there, are there negative consequences to that with respect to free speech given you're an expert on free speech? Smith There are, and there are definitely studies that have shown that disclosure does tend to decrease participation. Now, that doesn't mean as you point out that it's not worth it, but it certainly has costs. And so we have to be careful on how broad we would let that disclosure become.

    3:11:00 Scott Amey The law is created that has cooling off periods. And so there's no cooling off period of one year or two year or a permanent bans. HR 1 would move a lot of those to two years I think, which would be beneficial. And there's even disagreement in our community whether one year or two, you know, what is the appropriate time to kind of cool off so that your contacts aren't there. But this is also something that President Trump brought up when he was a candidate. He talked about, uh, I think it was Boeing at the time, but he went on record saying that people who give contracts should never be able to work for that defense contractor. This isn't a bipartisan, this is a bipartisan issue. This is something we can resolve. The laws are already on the books. We just need some extensions in some tweaking of those to improve them and allow people to cool off and not be able to provide a competitive advantage to their new employer or favor them as they're in office and they're walking out the door. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) And so you do believe that extending this cooling off period and strengthening these prohibitions would protect the integrity of the process and helped to reign in these flagrant abuses. Amey 100% in one of the nice things with HR 1 is there is an extension of a cooling off period for people coming into government service. Currently it exists and it's uh, it's one year. This will move it to two and I think that's a probably better place to be in. You shouldn't be handling issues that involve your former employer or clients. Pressley One final question. How might these cozy relationships between government officials and corporate leaders or private contractors help to boost profits for these prison and detention centers? Amey Well, certainly they go with a lot of information, uh, when, when they go over to the private sector. But it also allows them to get back into their former office and within their former agency and call on them. Access as, as you were just pointing out, access is everything in this town. And so if you can get your phone calls answered, if you can get emails read, if you get meetings at that point, that can, not only with members of Congress, but with agency heads that can determine who gets contracts. I mean, it does trickle down from the top and we need to make sure that we prevent as many like actual and also appearances of conflicts of interest as we can.

    3:17:00 Rep. Carol D. Miller (R-WV) What impact would the passage of this legislation have on those groups that are not political but may put out policy oriented communications? Smith It would be very curious and I've given a number of examples in the written testimony. I just say that I should add to this of course that the bill includes personal liability for officers and directors of some of these organizations. So you need to almost have to be crazy to let your organization get anywhere close to this promote support attack opposed standard. And again, what does that mean as I suggested? Well, you know, again, uh, government union might take out an ad maybe in a month, right? Or three weeks from now saying don't let president Trump, we shouldn't have to pay because he wants his wall in Mexico, you know, so, so tell them to reopen the government. Is that an attack on president Trump? I think that's the kind of thing that, that folks would not know and would make people very hesitant to run that kind of ad. Miller So it is a personal risk as well. Smith Yes. Yes. Not only risk. Plus it would be a risk, by the way, as well, to the tax status of some of the organizations involved in many of these organizations might have some type of tax status. 501(c)(3) organizations would have to be very careful because if they engage in speech that is now defined as political speech, 501(c)(3) organizations can't engage in political speech. They would jeopardize their tax exempt status. So that's another reason that these organizations would stay far clear of commenting on any kind of public issue.

    Video: H.R. 1: A Democrat Political Power Grab, Senator Mitch McConnell, YouTube, January 30, 2019. Video: Video Tweeted by Senator Mitch McConnell, January 29, 2019. Hearing: Full Committee Hearing on the "For the People Act of 2019", House Committee on the Judiciary, January 29, 2019. YouTube Video

    Witnesses:

    Christian Adams- President and General Counsel, Public Interest Legal Foundation Vanita Gupta - President and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Conference one Civil and Human Rights Sherrilyn Ifill - President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Adav Noti - Chief of Staff, Campaign Legal Center Sarah Tubervillie - Director of the Constitution Project, Project on Government Oversight Hans von Spakovsky - Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

    Sound Clips:

    10:45 Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) The official title of this bill is The For The People Act. This bill though is not for the people. It's not for everyday citizens. This bill siphons power from state legislatures, local elected officials and voters, and seeds, power to Washington lawmakers, unelected federal judges and lawyers. This bill is in particular for the unelected elites. It's for the people who don't answer directly to the voters. Contrary to it's name, this bill takes power away from the people and it does this by violating the constitution, by trampling over both the spirit and the letter of our most fundamental laws.

    32:00 Sherrilyn Ifill Well before the midterm election, in fact, Georgia officials began placing additional burdens on voters, particularly black and Latino voters, by closing precincts and purging. Over half a million people from the voter rolls the voter purge, which removed 107,000 people, simply because they did not vote in previous elections and respond to a mailing was overseen by the Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp, who was also the secretary of state. LDF and a chorus of others called on him to recuse himself from participating in the election. But he refused.

    1:08:00 Ifill I think, I think the problem we have is that you know, when we begin talking about the powers between the federal and the state government as it relates to elections, it is of course critical that we look to the constitution and that we look to the articles of the constitution that govern elections. But what we have left out of the conversation at least to this moment is the reordering of the relationship between the federal and state government that came with the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments and the 14th and 15th amendments in particular. The 14th amendment guaranteeing equal protection of laws under, the 15th Amendment prohibiting the denial of the right to vote based on race. National origin includes enforcement clauses that gives this body, the United States Congress, the power to enforce the rights that are articulated in those amendments to the constitution. And it is those amendments to the constitution that provided this body the right, for example, to pass laws like the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for which all the same arguments that are being made today about the power of the states, about interference, about what the federal government is allowed to do and not allowed to do were raised and overcome. So the federal government actually does have the power when there is evidence and when they are enforcing the rights under the 14th and 15th, amendments to actually, your word would be interfere, but to engage robustly, in the protection of the voting rights of racial minorities.

    1:15:00 Vanita Gupta There are over 13,000 election jurisdictions in our country, and elections can be run in a multitude of ways, but it is clear that Congress has the authority to make sure that civil rights are not violated in the course of running these elections. And that there are, there are equitable national standards to guide how this has done. And that is exactly what HR 1 does.

    1:26:00 Ifill Let me use as an example. Texas has voter I.D. law from your own state the voter I.D. law that Texas imposed after the Shelby decision as a voter I.D. law that they had attempted to get pre-clearance prior to the Shelby decision and pre-clearance was denied, in other words they were not allowed to make that law, become real because of the pre-clearance requirement. After Shelby, the Attorney General, decided that they were going to move forward with that law. It was imposed. We sued. We challenged that law and we won. But in the three years that it took us to litigate that case during that time Texas elected a United States senator in 2014. All 36 members of the Texas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, various statewide commissioners, four justices of the Texas Supreme Court. Candidates for special election in the state Senate State Boards of Education 16 state senators all 150 members of the statehouse over 175 state court trial judges and over 75 district attorneys. We proved at trial that more than half a million eligible voters were disenfranchised by the I.D. law. We were ultimately successful in challenging but it was too late for those elections and this was a scheme that had been denied pre-clearance. This is the kind of thing that undermines confidence in our electoral system and that threatens our democracy. What excuse can we have as a nation for disenfranchising over half a million voters from all of the elections I just described.

    1:35:00 Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) Where are the states, Ms. Ifill, that have most of the states that have prohibitions on people having the APP for you to vote if they've committed a felony? Ifill Well, they have been all over the country, but certainly there was a concentration in the south. As you may know, some of the history of these laws emanated, at the turn of the 19th century, I guess the turn of the 20th century, after southern states received back their power, they pass new constitutions. This is after the civil war and after reconstruction around 1900 and we saw the expansion of ex felon voting restrictions in state constitutions during that period, when there was a very robust effort to try and disenfranchise, at that point, newly freed slaves who had been free for several decades.

    2:05:00 Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) It contains a provision where federal tax dollars from hardworking middle class families and single mothers would be lining the pockets of politicians to pay for nasty TV ads and robo calls and paying for politicians, personal childcare and healthcare. Under this bill, it's estimated that at least $3.9 billion of taxpayer dollars would line the pockets of house congressional candidates based on estimates from Bloomberg and an estimated $6.25 billion with line the pockets of presidential candidates based on the formula in this bill and the 2016 election, for a total of $10.1 billion of taxpayer dollars. To me, this is an outrageous, outrageous use of taxpayer dollars.

    2:23:00 Hans Von Spakovsky This provision of HR 1 says that if a commission is not established, or if it doesn't adopt a plan, then, the redistricting lines for Congress will be drawn up by a three judge federal court. Now, yeah, the courts get involved, federal courts get involved and redistricting, but they only get involved when there has been a violation of the voting rights act because there's been discrimination in drawing the lines or because the equal protection doctrine of the 14th amendment, one person, one vote, has been violated because the districts aren't equal enough and that's appropriate. And courts do that. But this bill would give the judicial branch the ability to draw up lines when there's, there's been no such violation. And so they're, in essence, you're taking a power of the constitution gives to the legislative branch and you're giving it to the judicial branch.

    2:52:00 Gupta Well, our recourse used to be that changes in local voting patterns would be reported to the Justice Department and there would be recourse for the Justice Department to ensure that racial discrimination was not animating these changes and preventing people from exercising their franchise. As we said, in 2013, the United States supreme court gutted that key tool of the voting rights act. And it is why HR 1 is such an important, uh, act in order to restore the voting rights act and to restore the ability of the Justice Department and federal courts to actually prevent these kinds of nefarious actions from taking place before elections. Uh, litigation is crucial and groups that have risen to the challenge to, to file section two cases, but they are time intensive and they occur after elections after people have already been disenfranchised and can take years to come to adjudication during which elections are taking place. And so that is why, uh, it is incumbent and unnecessary for Congress to restore the provisions of the voting rights act. Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) So HR 1 will help protect the rights of my American citizens to vote before the election. Gupta HR 1, yes, expresses a commitment to restoring the voting rights act, and, uh, and that is what we hope to achieve in this congress. It is HR 1 also contains a slew of protections that have become proxies for racial discrimination around list maintenance and unwarranted voter purging. Hr 1 seeks to remedy those so that, uh, so that people can have their rights guaranteed before elections take place.

    3:25:00 Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) And I have to tell you after that, being in Congress for six years, uh, I have come to find that there are so many issues that uh, my republican colleagues and I agree on and that the American people agree that we've reached consensus on it and that ranges from reducing gun violence to addressing climate change, to finding healthcare solutions. But my constituents ask and people I encounter across the country always ask, if we've reached consensus where 90% of Americans think we should have background checks. Majority of Americans believe that climate change is happening. 90% of Americans think we should have the Dream Act. Why can't you guys even vote on these issues? And I've concluded that it's the dirty maps and the dirty money. It is rigged gerrymandered maps where politicians from both parties protect their friends and the status quo and it's the outside unlimited nontransparent money, where Republican colleagues have told me, I am with you on this issue -and I've had someone say this to me - I am afraid about how I'm going to be scored, meaning that these outside groups, we'll give scores based on how you vote and if you're not with them, they'll primary you with more money in an unlimited way. And then that's poisoning our politics and preventing us from reaching consensus.

    3:27:00 Swalwell I want to start with Miss Ifill, and if it's OK I want to call you Professor Ifill because I don't know if you remember you were my civil procedure professor at the University of Maryland. You wouldn't remember me I remember you. I was not a standout student at all but Miss Ifill according to your testimony Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would have prevented some of the voter suppression schemes that we have encountered over the past five years. And I was hoping you could articulate some of those schemes today. Ifill Yeah just a few of them. Earlier I spoke about Texas's voter I.D. law, an I.D. law that had been denied pre-clearance prior to the Shelby decision. Two hours after the Shelby decision the attorney general of Texas tweeted out his intention to resuscitate that law which he did. And we spent three years litigating it. We ultimately prevailed, but in the ensuing three years there were elections for all kinds of offices a law that clearly could not have survived pre-clearance. Just in 2018 we were on the ground in Georgia on election day doing election protection work in Grady County, the polling place had been changed two weeks prior to the election. A notice had been placed in a very small community newspaper but otherwise there was not real notice provided to the community and so people arrived at the old polling place and community residents had to spend the day standing outside the old polling place directing people to the place of the new polling place that had not been properly identified Under Section 5, the moving of a polling place is the kind of thing that you had to submit to pre-clearance and have it approved by the Justice Department before it could be implemented. Now there are a number of people that day who could drive to the new polling place but there were a number of people who had just taken off work and had a limited amount of time to vote and could not drive to the new polling place and so went back to work and were unable to participate in the political process. Those are just two small examples - well, one big and one small - but both consequential of the kinds of changes that would very easily have been averted and the problems that would have been averted had Section 5 been in place wouldn't have required litigation would have simply required a review by the Department of Justice and an opportunity for the community to resist that change or at least be informed of that change in a timely way.

    3:28:30 Swalwell As I understand it, and correct me if I'm wrong, if a candidate contacts a donor and tells the donor that there's ABC Super PAC working on my behalf, that candidate can solicit a contribution up to the maximum that candidate could receive federally. So I think it's $2,700 today. But I, as I understand it, there's no disclosure requirement by that candidate that they made that ask. And of course there's no way to know if the donor made the contribution or not because of the lack of transparency. Is that something that you think maybe we should address? Is having the candidates affirmatively, you know, tell the public that they've made requests for Super PAC a help? Adav Noti That's correct, congressman, but I would go farther than that. Candidates should not be soliciting for Super PACs. Period. Swalwell Agreed. But the FEC allows that today. Noti Currently the FEC allows that. The FEC probably has the authority to put an end to it. Congress certainly has the authority to put an end to it as an implementation of citizens United. But if it's going to be happening, yes, the public should certainly be aware. Um, and, and journalists and law enforcement should be aware that that is happening.

    3:45:00 Gupta There is a reason why voters in red and blue states in 2018 voted for independent to create independent redistricting commissions around the country. I think people are fed up with the king that the parties can own their voters. And in fact, voters want to be able to choose their politicians, not have politicians choose their voters. In 2015, the United States supreme court decided that it was perfectly consistent with the constitution to make sure that legislators weren't drawing their own lines. We stand unique in the world for allowing that kind of thing to happen. Gerrymandering is a uniquely American phenomenon and yet HR 1 really goes a long way to prevent intentional manipulation of district lines for partisan advantage. And it goes through a very carefully calibrated and described process of having five Democrats, five Republicans, five Independents , all randomly chosen from a pool of applicants, sit on an independent commission. There's specific criteria about how a district lines would get drawn in a plan would need majority support to be enacted, including the backing of at least one Democrat, one Republican, and one independent.

    4:03:00 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) Just one year ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, uh, said that our congressional lines were palpably gerrymandered, palpably unconstitutional. And so I'm a little baffled again by my colleague on the other side of the aisle from Pennsylvania who found that to be a troubling decision. It was a constitutionally based decision, uh, and I frankly wouldn't be here if it weren't for that supreme court decision, which rectified a 13 to five, delegation in Pennsylvania, to a nine, nine matching our voter registration.

    4:07:00 Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) Florida was one of the states that required pre-clearance before the Shelby county decision. Can you provide us with an example of a change to the voting laws in Florida that were enacted since the decision and what sort of impact it's had there? Gupta Thank you, Congresswoman. There have been a significant number of poll site closures in the State of Florida, which have created a lot of issues around long lines and accessibility of poll sites. These kinds of changes, as I said, they seem minor because they happen in different places and they're small in, in uh, you know, just closing up poll site doesn't seem like it would, would rise to some kind of nefarious effort, but taken collectively, the Justice Department was unable to have any clear indication of what was happening with a number of poll sites being closed locally. And that's the kind of thing where those kinds of changes would have been pre-cleared or not by the Justice Department to prevent racial discrimination. There are any number of these kinds of minor and major changes that Florida has made since the Shelby County decision that have not been detected by the Justice Department as a result of the Shelby county decision. And these are the things that ultimately corrode people's confidence in the government and in elections and make people decide to opt out of voting all together is when they feel like their vote won't be counted or that the system is so rigged against them that there is no kind of accountability for the kinds of these local changes and subtle, more subtle changes that are getting made in previously pre-cleared jurisdictions.

    4:09:00 Ifill As I understand it, in Florida, for example, formerly incarcerated persons can contribute to campaigns, which means a wealthy former felon like Jeffrey Epstein, who's been in the news very much, can and does contribute large sums of money to political campaigns. I'm not sure why we would regard someone who had served their time for a crime that they had committed and been convicted of voting. Why we would consider that more pernicious than the ability to contribute to campaigns. We live in an American system of justice in which once you have paid your debt to society, you should be restored as a citizen. That means that you should be able to get a driver's license. That means that you should be able to get a job. That means that you shouldn't be banned by the misuse of criminal backgrounds checks from being able to do a job. And it also means that you ought to be able to cloak yourself in the ultimate expression of citizenship in a democracy, which is the ability to cast a ballot and vote. So I don't see the making a distinction in terms of the crime. Our criminal justice system should ensure that someone is released only when we feel confident that that person is no longer a threat to society. And if our criminal justice system has made that determination, then it seems to me it's entirely appropriate for that person to return. And also receive the franchise along with their other citizenship rights.

    4:14:00 Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) Let me just kind of remind you about black and brown people who simply wanted to exercise the right to vote were many of them were the victims of hangings, beatings, burnings, bombings, dismemberments, disfigurements, all for wanting to exercise their basic right to vote. And then when America became more sophisticated, we move from physical harming to poll tax and literacy tests. Questions like how many bubbles are on a bar soap or how many feathers on a duck. We farther in the greatest country in the world did everything that we could, those who were in decision making positions to humiliate, to embarrass, to disenfranchise, how long will we have to still as we sit here in 2019 continue to have to defend a person's right to cast their vote. The good men who made the decision and women with the voter's rights act of 1965 didn't do so because there wasn't a problem. And when we talk about that was old and that's in the past. No, that was in my lifetime. And it was actually in the lifetime of several of the members who sit here on this panel. They did so because there was a significant problem, particularly in southern states for which I am a representative of one of them. And so if we're serious about America being the greatest country in the world, then we all should play a role in making it easier for our citizens, regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, their gender, to exercise that basic. Right.

    4:15:00 Gupta Independent redistricting commissions exists right now. For example, in California, Arizona, Colorado. Uh, we heard from members of Congress in Pennsylvania talk about the ruling that declare that the way that Pennsylvania was drawing district lines was tantamount to unlawful gerrymandering. They will now also have an independent commission. A number of states in November, just this past November, red states, blue states actually created independent redistricting commissions out of a recognition that voters frankly, are fed up with, with unlawful gerrymandering. These redistricting commissions, they've been authorized by the Supreme Court that the, which, as I said, decided that it is perfectly okay for, for, um, legislators to make sure that they are participating in the, in the drawing of their boundary lines. And in places like California, Arizona, and Colorado, that have had these commissions for a while, we have seen, improvements and representation and competitiveness of elections and in voter trust. And so this is why these provisions in HR 1 are so important.

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  • Elliott Abrams, the new U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela, along with witnesses from the State Department and USAID, testified to Congress about the Trump administration's efforts to replace Venezuela's President. In this episode, hear highlights from that hearing and gain some insight into Elliott Abrams' past regime change efforts as a member of the Reagan administration, which will help you to understand why so many people are concerned that he was picked for the Venezuela job.

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    CD190: A Coup for Capitalism

    CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

    CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress

    Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Venezuela at a Crossroads, House Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Foreign Affairs, February 13, 2019. C-SPAN YouTube

    Witnesses:

    Elliott Abrams - U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, U.S. Department of State Sandra Oudkirk - Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State Steve Olive - Acting Assistance Administrator, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, U.A. Agency for International Development (USAID)

    Sound Clips:

    11:42 Rep. Michael McCaul: When Nicolas Maduro was hand picked by Hugo Chavez in 2013, it was clear that he would follow in his socialist dictatorship footsteps. Since that time, Maduro's policies, rampant corruption and violent crackdowns on peaceful political dissent have turned Venezuela into a failed state. Hyperinflation has skyrocketed. Food and medicine are scarce, and according to the United Nations, up to 3 million people have fled the country since 2014 last week, a fuel tanker and two shipping containers were placed on a bridge to block the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid as seen on the, uh, the screen. This act highlights how evil the Maduro regime really is.

    12:34 Michael McCaul: The current crisis highlights the horrifying impact of socialism. Those who continue to preach or shows sympathy, do not understand its history and the abject suffering it has caused.

    17:26 Elliot Abrams: Thank you for the opportunity to testify on our efforts to restore democracy. Protestors: Protestors yelling…

    24:47 Elliot Abrams: Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me here today and thank you for the continuing interest, uh, and support that this committee has shown bipartisan interest in supporting the struggle for freedom in Venezuela. Protestor: Five coverage in your line. Again, that bridge was closed for years where that food was supposed to come down and when you were in charge will remind all persons in the audience any manifestations of approval or disapproval of proceedings is in violation of the rules of a house and committees.

    29:47 Steve Olive: State supports local human rights defenders, civil society, independent media, electoral oversight, and the democratically elected national assembly. Over the past five years, we have provided close to $40 million in democratic democracy assistance to these groups, including the planned $15 million in fiscal year 2018 funding, which cleared Congress yesterday.

    39:04 Michael McCaul: Mr Abrams, I think we really have a historic opportunity to transform what's been a, you know, socialist dictatorship that has been a humanitarian crisis into a democracy, um, supported by freedom and the, and the people. And at the same time, I think for the first time in decades, have an influence on Cuba in the western hemisphere.

    43:44 Rep. Brad Sherman: Um, we've got a situation where Russia expects to be repaid a Mr. Abrams. Um, what steps are we considering to, uh, support an action by the Venezuelan people to say, okay, we owe you so much minus that two, three, $10 trillion of harm you did to our country by, uh, uh, supporting this criminal Maduro. Uh, therefore you only owe us 1 trillion instead of 2 trillion. Uh, Mr Abrams are we, discussing with the Russians how we can make it plain to, the permanent future Venezuelan government that they do not have to pay Russia and that they will not suffer any demerits, uh, in, uh, in their credit rating for western agencies. So in Western banks. Elliot Abrams: We'd begun to have those discussions. Uh, primarily, of course it would be led by treasury, but, um, the interim government and the National Assembly has said that they would repay debts. Some of those debts, I think were never approved by the National Assembly. Ultimately, it is a decision that they're going to put the most of these that they're going to have to make. Brad Sherman: But if we put the Russians on notice that we would support and require our banks to support a decision by the Venezuelan government to offset that by trillions of dollars of claims against Russia, and that we would prohibit, we might choose to prohibit our banks from looking at any credit rating, uh, that, uh, was impaired by failure to repay Russia. Elliott Abrams: Don't believe that exact message. Brad Sherman: I hope you will.

    47:23 Brad Sherman: And, uh, we also have Venezuela reportedly owe China, $20 billion. Um, I know that China's policy toward Maduro is, is different than that of Russia, but, uh, uh, what is China doing now to help the legitimate government of Venezuela? Elliot Abrams: They aren't doing anything to help, uh, Mr. Brad Sherman: Are they providing any additional funds to Maduro? Elliot Abrams: No. Uh, my information is that they won't lend any more money because they're worried about getting back what they've already lent. And the message that we've passed at him is you continue to back Maduro and the economy of Venezuela descends further. You will never get paid back.

    1:0439* Rep. Albio Sires: Ms. Oudkirk, can you talk to me a little bit about the oil sanctions? I know that in my reports, that Juan Guaido plans to name a new board of directors for Citco the process will require the west to legally recognize the new board members. Would a new board have access to U.S banks, accounts with proceeds from Venezuela's oil sales that have been blocked by the sanctions? Sandra Oudkirk: Thank you, Mr Congressmen. So as I noted in my remarks, the key to sanctions relief for PDVSA, um, it is the transfer of control of that company away from, uh, Maduro and his cronies and to a demo, a democratically elected representatives of the, of the Venezuelan people. It would the, with regards to Citgo, citgo operations in the United States are covered by a general license that Treasury issued on the day the sanctions were announced. So sit goes operations here in the u s um, are continuing under that, that license and that license covers them for six months from the date of announcement. The ban is on remitting, uh, payments back to, PDVSA as long as it is, uh, under, um, the illegitimate control. So if you have, Albio Sires: What would a board do, named by Guaido? What would that do? If he names a new board? Sandra Oudkirk: For Citgo? Albio Sires: Yes. Sandra Oudkirk: I will have to get back to you on the details, uh, of that. Um, I don't have the answer for you right now. I'm sorry, Albio Sires: Mr Abrams? Elliot Abrams: Well, we don't want any of the, uh, one of the funds to go to the, to the regime, so that would not be permitted. But, um, I think there's a lot of lawyers in Washington who were making a lot of money trying to figure out the answer to your question. Albio Sires: My daughter's a lawyer... My thing is if, if we are able to get this money in U.S. banks and obviously under this sanction, good dumb money be used for humanitarian purposes in Venezuela? Elliot Abrams: It can, um, all of these funds, uh, all Venezuelan government funds are in our view, a rightly available to the legitimate interim president, Mr Guaido and the National Assembly. So they can use those funds to purchase additional humanitarian assistance, right. Is a lot of procedures to go through to get them actual control of it. Uh, and they've made it clear that they want to be extremely careful. They're going to be accused of, of misusing the funds. So everything's got to be totally transparent, but in principle, yes, sure.

    1:24:44 Rep. David Cicilline: I want to turn to my first series of question because I am concerned by continuing comments from the Trump administration noting that the use of military force is, as the president said, an option. And so for you Mr. Abrams. My first question is we have not, of course, the congress of the United States has not declared war on Venezuela, correct? Elliot Abrams: Correct. David Cicilline: Is there an existing statutory authorization that would allow for a military intervention in Venezuela? Yes or no? Elliot Abrams: Not to my knowledge. David Cicilline: Has Venezuela attack the United States, his territories or possessions or its armed forces? Elliot Abrams: No. David Cicilline: Has the administration increased troop deployments to countries including Columbia neighboring Venezuela at any point in the last month? Elliot Abrams: Don't believe so. David Cicilline: Are there, are there currently any plans to or discussions about moving additional combat troops to Columbia or any other country that neighbors Venezuela? Elliot Abrams: Not to my knowledge. David Cicilline: Is anyone at the White House, National Security Council, the Department of Defense or any other agency making plans for US military engagement in Venezuela? Elliot Abrams: That's a question I can't answer. I know of no such planning. David Cicilline: Well, consistent with the war powers act. I've introduced legislation that expressly prohibits the administration room taking military action in Venezuela without consulting Congress. Will you pledge that the Trump administration will not take any military action in a regarding Venezuela without consulting with Congress in accordance with the war powers act? Elliot Abrams: I don't know that I can answer that question. Mr Cicilline. A series of presidents, you know, have taken a jaundiced view, I might say, of the war powers act. So I'm really not… David Cicilline: Well, under our constitution, as you know, only congress can declare war and we have neither declared war and are granted the administration the authority to send the armed forces into hostilities in Venezuela. In my view, it would be illegal under us law, inappropriate and reckless to attempt and military intervention. The United States must show leadership in our own hemisphere and we must continue to provide aid to suffering Venezuelans. But I want to just build on Mr Keating's question because you said of the 51 countries in this coalition, we are the only one that has threatened the use of military force. And in response to a question from Mr Keating, you said, because we're the only one capable of doing it, surely you're not suggesting the other 50 countries do not have military capability to engage in a military action if they so elected do. Elliot Abrams: Well, some do and some don't. David Cicilline: So some do. And we're not the only ones that have that ability. Elliot Abrams: We have not threatened military action in Venezuela. We've said that all options are on the table. David Cicilline: My question is we're not the only one that has that capability. So when you said that to Mr Keating that was not accurate. Elliot Abrams: We are the only one with the kind of capability obviously, David Cicilline: but others have military capability and have not made the same assertion of that being an option. Isn't that correct? Elliot Abrams: I am actually not sure of the answer to that of whether of what other governments have said. David Cicilline: Okay. So Mr. Abrams, what is particularly concerning to me is that in light of the fact there is no legal authority to, uh, express the use of military force as an option. It's unclear to me how the president or anyone in the administration can claim it's an option on table because it is not. And to the extent that we are suggesting that it is, we are misleading the international community where miss me leading the people in Venezuela. So I urge you to take back the message, the administration that it is not authorized and not helpful.

    1:41:03 Rep. Joaquin Castro: Uh, I have in the past supported sanctions against the Maduro regime because as Mr. Meeks mentioned, I do believe in many ways that Mr. Maduro Has oppressed his people. At the same time, I believe that the role of the United States is to promote democracy, freedom and human rights around the world. The role of the United States is not the hand pick. The next leader of Venezuela and Mr Abrams. I have a question for you. My question is whether you're aware of any transfers of weapons or defense equipment by the United States government to groups of Venezuela opposed to Nicolas Maduro since you were appointed special representative for Venezuela and I want to be respectful of you, but also honest and the reason that I asked that question. There's been a McClatchy news report of such an incident. Have you, are you aware of that news report? Elliot Abrams: I saw the report, yes. Joaquin Castro: I asked this question because you have a record of such actions in Nicaragua. You were involved in the effort to covertly provide lethal aid to the contras against the will of Congress. You ultimately pled guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress in regard to your testimony during the Iran Contra scandal. So I asked you the question, can we trust your testimony today? : Well, you can make that decision for yourself, Mr. Castro. I can tell you that the answer to your question is no. It's a simple, uh, and unequivocal no. Uh, there has been no such transfer of arms.

    1:41:50 Rep. Ilhan Omar: Mr. Adams in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran Contra affair for which you were later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush. I fail to understand, uh, why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give a today to be truthful. Elliot Abrams: If I could respond to that Ilhan Omar: That wasn't a question. I said that that was not, that was not a question that was high. I reserve the right to my time. It is not. It is not right. That was not a question. On February 8th who is not permitted to reply that that was not okay. Question. Thank you for your participation on February 8th, 1982 you testified before the Senate foreign relations committee about US policy in El Salvador. In that hearing you dismiss As communist propaganda report about the massacre of El Mazote in which more than 800 civilians including children as young as two years old, were brutally murdered by us trained troops doing that massacre. Some of those troops bragged about raping a 12 year old girl before they killed them girls before they killed them. You later said that the u s policy in El Salvador was a fabulous achievement, yes or no. Do you still think so Elliot Abrams: from the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election, To this day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That's a fabulous achievement, Ilhan Omar: yes or no. Do you think that massacre, was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch? Elliot Abrams: That is a ridiculous question. Yes or no? No, I will. Ilhan Omar: I will take that as a yes. Elliot Abrams: I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack which is not a question Ilhan Omar: Yes or no. Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they were serving us interest as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua? Elliot Abrams: I am not going to respond to that question. I'm sorry. I don't think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions and so I will not reply. Ilhan Omar: Whether you under your watch, a genocide will take place and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question because the American people want to know that anytime we engage a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being fathered. That is my question. Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights? Elliot Abrams: I suppose there is a question in there and the answer is that the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people's effort to restore democracy to their country. That's our policy. Ilhan Omar: I don't think anybody disputes that. The question I had for you is that the interest does the interest of the United States include protecting human rights and include protecting people against genocide. Elliot Abrams: That is always the position of the United States. Ilhan Omar: Thank you. I yield back my time.

    1:42:35 Joaquin Castro: I also want to ask you, I mentioned the promotion of democracy and the fact that the Venezuelan people have to pick their own leader. What is the administration strategy for encouraging elections as soon as possible in Venezuela? Elliot Abrams: Well, that is the heart of really of administration policy. That is, uh, after the Maduro regime, a short transition to an election. And that's the view of all of the 51 nations that are supporting Mr Guido. I completely agree with the way you started. It's not for us to choose the next president of Venezuela. It's for Venezuelans. We can help is a lot of other countries can help in facilitating a free election because there's, you know, there's a lot of experience. The National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, Freedom House and equivalents in a lot of other countries are really quite good at giving assistance.

    1:45:40 Elliott Abrams: And once there is a, uh, freely elected government that can deal again with the World Bank and the IMF and a broad international programs of support, I think the Russian role will diminish very quickly.

    1:47:00 Rep. Sandra Oudkirk: So one of the reasons why we licensed the continued involvement of US companies in upstream oil production in Venezuela was because the oil and gas sector is the key pillar of the Venezuelan economy and it will be going forward and keeping us the U s corporate presence there, um, with their best practices, with their adherence to all the sorts of practices that we expect here in the United States is we believe one of the best ways to ensure that in the future, Venezuela is able to return to prosperity and sort of an economy that functions normally.

    1:47:59 Sandra Oudkirk: But we do believe that western involvement in the upstream oil sector, we will leave us positioned to, to have both the US private sector and the u s government assist with eventual economic recovery. And, and we are a counterweight to the Russian and the Chinese investment, which is otherwise very prevalent in that industry.

    1:53:03 Greg Pence: Over 40 countries have now recognized Juan Guido as the interim president of Venezuela.

    1:56:22 Steve Olive: What administrator Green and I were there in July. It was clear that there were saying, and we, and we saw it firsthand, that 90% of the Venezuelans that were coming into Colombia to get support, we're going back in to Venezuela. So they were just coming in to be able to get the vaccines or healthcare or food or, or generate some income to be able to go back into the country. And we expect that to continue until when we were allowed to bring in our humanitarian assistance into the country in a safe and efficient manner, in a manner that we can monitor where it goes, and that it makes sure that it gets to the people who are in need of it most.

    1:57:24 Rep. Adriano Espaillat: Well, Mr Abrams, uh, many of our allies have expressed concern of your appointment, uh, to deal with this problem. Some carob have characterized it as being perhaps like appointing Exxon to lead a discussion on the green new deal or maybe even appointing MBS to lead a discussion on fairness in journalism and accessibility to journalists. Uh, do you feel that your past actions in Iran contract permanently impair your ability to fairly and transparently a deal in the region? Since we all know the outcome of what happened then? Do you feel that that's a major problem, baggage that you bring to the table? I don't and I've now I've been doing this job for two whole weeks. Um, and I can tell you that, uh, members of Congress have raised it. No Latin American of any nationality with whom I have dealt has raised it. And we've had lots and lots of discussions about how we're going to promote democracy in Venezuela. Elliot Abrams: I guess I should say, since I've been attacked now three times in my own defense, if you look at the written record of eight years when we came in, there were military dictatorships,and when we left in country after country after country, there had been transitions that we support it Chili's a very good example. So I think it's actually a record of promoting democracy. I think a lot of Adriano Espaillat: Respectfully, I differ with you, I think is a fact of history. We should not dig our heads in the sand and make believe that this never happened because he did. And you were at the helm of that Elliot Abrams: I was at the helm of promoting democracy in Latin America. Adriano Espaillat: You may want to characterize it that way, but I don't, I think you were involved in the Iran-Contra deal, and I think that permanently damage you to be a fair and impartial arbitrar in a conflict is leading to, to, to a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented levels in Venezuela.

    2:18:26 Rep. Steve Chabot: Um, what's the state of press freedoms in Venezuela and how are we a countering the regime's propaganda and ensuring that Venezuelans are aware of the support that the u s uh, and the international community or providing? Elliot Abrams: Thank you, congressman for your question. We are providing support for independent media. Uh, we are now up to, with the approval of your current, the congressional notification notification that has now expired and we can now use our 2018 funding. We have approximately of spent about approximately $40 million or available for one of the areas is independent media. The groups that we are working with, Freedom House, uh, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Ndi and others are working to preserve an independent media within the country.

    2:27:30 Rep. Tom Malinowski: Would you then agree as a general matter, and I know I'm sensitive to the fact that you're here representing the administration's Venezuela policies you can't necessarily speak for, for everything else, but as a general matter, would you agree that if we are going to be condemning a president who is trying to attain absolute power for life contrary to constitutions and the democratic process in Venezuela, that we should do so in other countries such as Egypt when that similar situations arise as a general matter? Sure. Elliot Abrams: I really should not respond, um, beyond the question of Ben as well. It's really not my remit at the department and not while I'm up here. Uh, you and I go back a ways and you know, that, uh, my view is generally that the United States should be supporting the expansion of democracy, um, all over the world.

    Video: Bolton promises to confront Latin America's 'Troika of Tyranny', The Washington Post, November 1, 2018. Video: Empire Files: Abby Martin Meets the Venezuelan Opposition, YouTube, July 30, 2017. Video: Empire Files: Abby Martin in Venezuela - Supermarkets to Black Markets, YouTube, July 11, 2017. Video: Pauly D & Vinny: The Ultimate Guidos' Official Throwback Clip, Jersey Shore, MTV (YouTube), June 1, 2017. State of the Union Address: George W. Bush - Uranium from Africa Statement, YouTube, January 28, 2003. Presidential Address: President Reagan's Address to the Nation on the Iran-Contra Controversy, YouTube, November 13, 1986.

    Sound Clips:

    President Ronald Reagan: In spite of the wildly speculative and false stories of our arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments, we did not, repeat, did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages... But why you might ask, is any relationship with Iran important to the United States? Iran encompasses some of the most critical geography in the world. It allows between the Soviet Union and access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Geography explains why the Soviet Union has sent an army into Afghanistan to dominate that country, and if they could, Iran and Pakistan, Iran's geography gives it a critical position from which adversaries could interfere with oil flows from the Arab states that border the Persian Gulf, apart from geography, Iran's oil deposits are important to the long-term health of the world economy. Discussion: Elliott Abrams discusses Guatemala with Jim Lehrer, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, YouTube, November 30, 1983.

    Sound Clip:

    4:11 Jim Lehrer: On the killings, in 1981 as I'm sure you're aware of, the State Department said there was between 250 to 300 political killings a month in Guatemala. Can you give me any idea as to what that figure is now? Elliott Abrams: our latest figures are down to about 40 or 50 a month, which is a considerable reduction. We're not suggesting that situation of 40 or 50 a month is good, but it's a lot better and we think that kind of progress needs to be rewarded and encouraged. Jim Lehrer: And you think this sale will in fact encourage more, not less? I mean more progress, not less progress? Elliott Abrams: Yes, absolutely. Because... Jim Lehrer: Now why? Elliott Abrams: Because it shows the government that we mean it when we say that we are behind these kinds of moves and that if you make these kinds of moves were willing to support you. If we take the attitude that don't come to us until you're perfect, we're going to walk away from this problem until Guatemala has a perfect human rights record. Then we're going to be leaving in the lurch. People there who are trying to make progress and are succeeding. Jim Lehrer: Are you, do you firmly believe that the, that the key person who is trying to make progress is President Rios Montt? Elliott Abrams: Yes. Because the government, uh, policies really changed after he came in and, uh, March of last year. Uh, and he is, I think it's fair now to say practicing what he preaches. There has been a tremendous change, especially in the attitude of the government towards the Indian population, which used to be seen as an enemy and is now seen as a citizen population, as an ally in the struggle for a future of Guatemala. Additional Reading

    Article: The tragic life of the war criminal Elliott Abrams by Branko Marcetic, Jacobin Magazine, February 16, 2019.

    Article: What did Elliot Abrams have to do with the El Mozote massacre? by Raymond Bonner, The Atlantic, February 15, 2019.

    Article: How a bridge between Colombia and Venezuela became a part of a propaganda fight, CBC News, February 15, 2019.

    Article: The fight between Ilhan Omar and Elliott Abrams, Trump's Venezuela envoy, explained by Zack Beauchamp, Vox, February 15, 2019.

    Article: Media hype confronts reality on the Venezuela-Colombia border by Marco Terrugi, Workers World, February 15, 2019.

    Article: Rep. Ilhan Omar went after Elliot Abrams for lying to Congress. Then he did it again by Jon Schwarz, The Intercept, February 14, 2019.

    Article: El Salvador's backslide by Hilary Goodfriend, NACLA, February 14, 2019.

    Article: Hungry Venezuelans urge help but standoff looms over 'politicised' aid by Joe Parkin Daniels, The Guardian, February 13, 2019.

    Article: US-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó recruits DC lobbyists as crisis deepens by Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Raymond Arke, OpenSecrets News, February 13, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela hopes to create non-dollar trading bloc by Nidhi Verma, Reuters, February 12, 2019.

    Article: Red Cross, UN slam 'politicised' USAID humanitarian assistance to Venezuela by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, February 11, 2019.

    Article: Western media fall in lockstep for cheap Trump/Rubio Venezuela aid pr stunt by Adam Johnson, Fair, February 9, 2019.

    Article: Air charter firm, client both deny role in alleged shipment of arms to Venezuela by Martin Vassolo, Tim Johnson, and David Ovalle, McClatchy DC, February 8, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela says plane from Miami delivered weapons for use by enemies of Maduro by Tim Johnson, McClatchy DC, February 7, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela says plane from Miami delivered weapons for use by enemies of Maduro by Tim Johnson, McClatchy DC, February 7, 2019.

    Report: Venezuela: Overview of U.S. sanctions, Congressional Research Service, February 1, 2019.

    Article: Washington follows Ukraine, Syria roadmap in push for Venezuela regime change by Whitney Webb, Mint Press News, January 26, 2019.

    Article: Battle for water rights heats up in El Salvador by Heather Gies, Truth Out, August 5, 2018.

    Transcript: Erain Rios Montt, former Guatemalan dictator, dies at 91, All Things Considered with host Mary Louise Kelly, NPR, April 3, 2018.

    Article: America's role in El Salvador's deterioration by Raymond Bonner, The Atlantic, January 20, 2018.

    Article: Negotiations between Venezuelan regime and opposition making "good progress," Chilean mediator says by Karina Martin, Panam Post, December 4, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela stops accepting dollars for oil payments following U.S. sanctions by Anatoly Kurmanaev, The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2017.

    Article: CIA chief hints agency is working to change Venezuelan government by Andrew Buncombe, Independent, July 25, 2017.

    Transcript: The view from Langley, The Aspen Institute, July 20, 2017.

    Article: The dirty hand of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Venezuela by Eva Golinger, April 25, 2014.

    Article: On democracy and orchestrated overthrows in Venezuela and Ukraine by Howard Friel, Common Dreams, March 17, 2014.

    Article: U.S. repeals propaganda ban, spreads government-made news to Americans by John Hudson, Foreign Policy, July 14, 2013.

    Article: Speaking of Abrams, what did he know about genocide in Guatemala? by Jim Lobe, Lob Log, May 10, 2013.

    Article: Former leader of Guatemala is guilty of genocide against Mayan group by Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, May 10, 2013.

    Article: The Maya genocide trial by Peter Canby, The New Yorker, May 3, 2013.

    Book Review: Big fruit by Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, The New York Times, March 2, 2008.

    Report: USA: Below the radar - Secret flights to torture and 'disappearance', Amnesty.org, April 5, 2006.

    Article: What I didn't find in Africa by Joseph C. Wilson IV, The New York Times, July 6, 2003.

    Report: From madness to hope: the 12-year war in El Salvador: Report of the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador, United States Insitute of Peace, January 26, 2001.

    Article: The politics of neoliberalism in postwar El Salvador by Chris van der Borgh, JSTOR, Spring 2000.

    Article: Dirty hands by Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic, December 1998.

    Article: 12 years of tortured truth on El Salvador by Guy Gugliotta and Douglas Farah, The Washington Post, March 21, 1993.

    Article: How U.S. actions helped hide Salvador human rights abuses by Clifford Krauss, The New York Times, March 21, 1993.

    Article: The pardons; Bush pardons 6 in Iran affair, aborting a Weinberger trial; Prosecutor assails 'cover-up' by David Johnston, The New York Times, December 25, 1992.

    Article: Democracy's lies by Eric Alterman, The New York Times, November 4, 1991.

    Article: Contra inquiry to focus on Abrams's silent role by David Johnson, The New York Times, October 9, 1991.

    Report: Aid compensates for economic losses but achieves little growth, U.S. General Accounting Office, February 1991.

    Article: Turnover in Nicaragua; Americans laud result but differ on moral by Elaine Sciolino, The New York Times, February 27, 1990.

    Article: Bush's trade; Behind the transformation of Central American policy by Robert Pear, The New York Times, April 16, 1989.

    Article: The Reagan White House; Tower report tarnishes the luster of Abrams, point man on contra aid by Richard J. Meislin, The New York Times, March 4, 1987.

    Article: The White House crisis; Memos raise questions on Reagan's knowledge of contra aid operations by Jeff Gerth, The New York Times, March 2, 1987.

    Article: The White House crisis; Guatemala aided contras, despite denials, panel says by Richard J. Meislin, The New York Times, February 28, 1987.

    Article: The White House crisis; The unfolding of a secret White House policy: A clearer picture emerges by Robert Pear, The New York Times, February 27, 1987.

    Article: The White House crisis: The tower report inquiry finds Reagan and chief advisers responsible for 'chaos' in Iran arms deals; Reagan also blamed by Steven. V. Roberts, The New York Times, February 27, 1987.

    Article: The White House crisis; The deception inquiry finds Reagan and chief advisors responsible for 'chaos' in Iran arms deals; White House cast wide net in seeking aid for contras; The missing notes by Fox Butterfield, The New York Times, February 27, 1987.

    Article: An innocent victim of the Iran scandal by Walter F. Mondale and Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., The New York Times, February 23, 1987.

    Article: Senators challenge officials on contras by David K. Shipler, The New York Times, February 6, 1987.

    Article: Adding pieces to the puzzle: A new chronology of the Iran-contra affair, The New York Times, February 1, 1987.

    Article: Senators charge a web of deceit in Iranian affair by David E. Rosenbaum, The New York Times, January 30, 1987.

    Article: C.I.A. said to guide contras' military despite ban on aid by James Lemoyne, The New York Times, January 11, 1987.

    Article: The White House crisis: Getting supplies to the contras; U.S. got reports on contra arms by Joel Brinkley, The New York Times, December 17, 1986.

    Article: The White House crisis: First hint of Hasenfus; Bush staff got calls about contra plane by Gerald M. Boyd, The New York Times, December 16, 1986.

    Article: The White House crisis: Contacts in Central America; U.S. oversaw supplies to rebels, officials say by James Lemoyne, The New York Times, December 8, 1986.

    Article: The White House crisis: Voices that contradict; How contras got arms: An account from a crew by James Lemoyne, The New York Times, December 4, 1986.

    Article: The White House crisis: The view from Teheran; 20 planeloads of U.S. arms reported flown to Iran, The New York Times, November 29, 1986.

    Article: The White House crisis: President will not be called; Iran money reported diverted in '85, The New York Times, November 28, 1986.

    Article: White House shake-up: A task is handed to State Dept.; Israel now says it sent arms at request of U.S., The New York Times, November 26, 1986.

    Article: Iran payment found diverted to contras; Reagan security adviser and aide are out by Bernard Weinraub, The New York Times, November 26, 1986.

    Article: White House shake-up: What the lawyers say; New doubt raised on responsibility by Stephen Engelberg, The New York Times, November 26, 1986.

    Article: C.I.A. begins training 70 Nicaraguan rebels, The New York Times, November 20, 1986.

    Article: President orders sales of weapons to Iran stopped by Bernard Weintraub, The New York Times, November 20, 1986.

    Article: At O.A.S., many reject the contras by Stephen Kinzer, The New York Times, November 15, 1986.

    Article: Contras plan assault by radio by Milt Freudenheim and James F. Clarity, The New York Times, November 9, 1986.

    Article: Congress plans to investigate covert policies by Stephen Engelberg, The New York Times, November 9, 1986.

    Article: Contras to start new radio station by Stephen Engelberg, The New York Times, November 5, 1986.

    Article: Contra aid: Who art the planners? by Leslie H. Gelb, The New York Times, October 23, 1986.

    Article: Let's get the facts on Nicaragua; Is the C.I.A. involved? by Patrick J. Leahy, The New York Times, October 23, 1986.

    Article: U.S. again denies a Nicaragua role by David K. Shipler, The New York Times, October 16, 1986.

    Article: White House official linked to arms deliveries to contras, The New York Times, October 15, 1986.

    Article: Close aide to Bush linked to figure helping contras by Philip Shenon, The New York Times, October 13, 1986.

    Article: U.S. says contras get more supplies by Stephen Engelberg, The New York Times, October 12, 1986.

    Article: U.S. prisoner in Nicaragua says C.I.A. ran contra supply flights by James Lemoyne, The New York Times, October 10, 1986.

    Article: A U.S. agency used plane lost in Nicaragua by Richard Halloran, The New York Times, October 10, 1986.

    Article: Reagan calls plane's crew a new Lincoln Brigade by Richard Halloran, The New York Times, October 9, 1986.

    Article: Don't sell democracy short by Morton Kondracke, The New York Times, September 22, 1986.

    Article: El Salvador rejects contra training, The New York Times, August 27, 1986.

    Article: U.S. vetoes rebuke on aid to contras by Elaine Sciolino, The New York Times, August 1, 1986.

    Article: C.I.A. is assigned role of running contra activities by Bernard Gwertzman, The New York Times, July 12, 1986.

    Article: Overseeing of C.I.A. by Congress has produced decade of support, The New York Times, July 7, 1986.

    Article: Excerpts from rulings by the world court, The New York Times, June 28, 1986.

    Article: World court supports Nicaragua after U.S. rejected judges' role by Paul Lewis, The New York Times, June 28, 1986.

    Article: House votes, 221-209, to aid rebel forces in Nicaragua; Major victory for Reagan by Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times, June 26, 1986.

    Article: Ex-officers accuse contra chiefs of siphoning off U.S. aid money by David K. Shipler, The New York Times, June 21, 1986.

    Article: Millions in contra aid misused, G.A.O. says, The New York Times, June 12, 1986.

    Article: Contras are said to receive new arms, The New York Times, April 24, 1986.

    Article: C.I.A. aid to rebels reported, The New York Times, April 14, 1986.

    Article: Inquiry reported into contra arms, The New York Times, April 11, 1986.

    Article: White House tells of Honduran plea by Gerald M. Boyd, The New York Times, March 27, 1986.

    Article: Nicaragua denies its troops invaded Honduras by Stephen Kinzer, The New York Times, March 26, 1986.

    Article: Lawmakers say new raid will help cause of contras by Steven V. Roberts, The New York Times, March 26, 1986.

    Article: C.I.A. is reported set to channel aid to contras by Richard Halloran, The New York Times, March 18, 1986.

    Article: U.S. said to weigh training contras by Richard Halloran, The New York Times, March 14, 1986.

    Article: Reagan says the choice is between backing him or communists by Gerald M. Boyd, The New York Times, March 7, 1986.

    Article: U.S. is said to aid contras via Salvador by James Lemoyne, The New York Times, February 13, 1986.

    Article: Latin ministers urge U.S. to halt aid to contras, The New York Times, February 11, 1986.

    Article: C.I.A. defends contras' behavior, The New York Times, February 3, 1986.

    Article: In the nation; The old scare tactic by Tom Wicker, The New York Times, January 6, 1986.

    Article: Reagan urges arms aid for Nicaragua rebels by Bernard Weinraub, The New York Times, December 15, 1985.

    Article: Major news in summary; U.S. says Cubans fight in Nicaragua, The New York Times, December 8, 1985.

    Article: Push the Russians, intellectuals say by Robert Pear, The New York Times, November 25, 1985.

    Article: Latin arms trade detailed in court by Richard Bernstein, The New York Times, September 17, 1985.

    Article: World court hearing Nicaragua's case against U.S. by Richard Bernstein, The New York Times, September 13, 1985.

    Article: Nicaragua's American lawyers prepare case by Shirley Christian, The New York Times, September 8, 1985.

    Article: U.S. aide's ties to contras challenged by Jonathan Fuerbringer, The New York Times, September 5, 1985.

    Article: Role in Nicaragua described by U.S. by Gerald M. Boyd, The New York Times, August 9, 1985.

    Article: Nicaragua rebels getting advice from White House on operations, The New York Times, August 8, 1985.

    Article: House-Senate conference approves restricted aid to rebels by Steven V. Roberts, The New York Times, July 26, 1985.

    Article: Rights group says U.S. distorts Nicaragua reports by Susan F. Rasky, The New York Times, July 16, 1985.

    Article: Major news in summary; House bows on Nicaragua, The New York Times, June 16, 1985.

    Article: A consensus on rebel aid by Steven V. Roberts, The New York Times, June 14, 1985.

    Article: Key congressman to praise embargo, The New York Times, May 2, 1985.

    Article: The message of sanctions by Bernard Gwertzman, The New York Times, May 2, 1985.

    Article: Rebuff for the President by Hedrick Smith, The New York Times, April 26, 1985.

    Article: Nicaragua rebels accused of abuses by Larry Rohter, The New York Times, March 7, 1985.

    Article: Brights report on Nicaragua cites recent rebel activities by Joel Brinkley, The New York Times, March 6, 1985.

    Article: Nicaragua rebels reported to have new flow of arms by Philip Taubman, The New York Times, January 13, 1985.

    Article: A threadbare C.I.A. defense William Casey's first public statement on C.I.A.'s manual for war against Nicaragua is as peculiar as the document it tries to justify, the New York Times, November 3, 1984.

    Article: Rebel asserts C.I.A. pledged help in war against Sandinistas by Joel Brinkley, The New York Times, November 1, 1984.

    Article: Honduras key to U.S. role in Central America by Gordon Mott, The New York Times Magazine, October 14, 1984.

    Article: Abroad at home; Free market terrorism by Anthony Lewis, The New York Times, September 13, 1984.

    Article: Help to Salvador cheers U.S. aides, The New York Times, August 13, 1984.

    Article: The world; Reagan's war over Nicaragua by Milt Freudenheim and Henry Giniger, The New York Times, July 22, 1984.

    Article: CIA funding reportedly aids Duarte campaign by Julia Preston, The Boston Globe, May 4, 1984.

    Article: U.S. actions and statements in the dispute over Nicaragua by William G. Blair, The New York Times, April 12, 1984.

    Article: House group joins in opposing mining Nicaraguan ports by Bernard Gwertzman, The New York Times, April 12, 1984.

    Article: U.S. lifts embargo on military sales to Guatemalans by Bernard Gwertzman, The New York Times, January 8, 1983.

    Archive: Red, pink, white villages Chimaltenango, GWU, November 10, 1982.

    Article: El Salvador's land program: Fervor on both sides by Raymond Bonner, The New York Times, March 5, 1982.

    Article: Massacre of hundreds reported in Salvador village by Raymond Bonner, The New York Times, January 27, 1982.

    Article: El Salvador -- one of Ronald Reagan's first foreign-policy challenges by James Nelson Goodsell, The Christian Science Monitor, December 1, 1980.

    Resources

    Book Description: Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner, Indie Bound

    Encyclopedia Britannica: Boland Amendment, US Legislation

    Freedom House: Board and Staff

    Freedom House: Our History

    International Republican Institute: Board of Directors

    National Democratic Institute: Board of Directors

    National Endowment for Democracy: Venezuela 2017 Report

    ProPublica Report: Audit for period ending September 2017, International Republican Institute

    ProPublica Report: Tax Filings and Audits by Year, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

    Search: "In the Name of Democracy" carouthers Google Book search

    Community Suggestions

    See Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • We knew it was coming, and now it's here: A coup is in progress in Venezuela. In this follow up episode to CD176 (Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress), learn additional backstory and details about the recent events in Venezuela, including the proclamation by Juan Guaido that he is now the President of Venezuela and all of the efforts being made by the Trump administration to get this regime change to stick.

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    CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

    CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress

    Sound Clip Sources Hearing: U.S. Africa and Southern Command Operations, Senate Armed Service Committee, C-SPAN, February 7, 2019.

    Witnesses:

    Admiral Craig Fuller - U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Commander

    Sound Clips:

    16:10 Fuller While Russia and Cuba and China prop up the Maduro dictatorship, the reminder of the world is united. SOUTHCOM is supporting diplomatic efforts and we are prepared to protect U.S. personal and diplomatic facilities, if necessary. 53:44 Sen. Rick Scott In the Venezuelan military, have you -- have you seen any cracking from the standpoint, what we've been doing over the last -- especially the last two weeks, has any thing changed? Fuller - Certainly, there's been readiness aspects of their military that we watch very closely. It's a degraded force, but it is still a force that remains loyal to Maduro, and that makes it dangerous. We're looking for signs of those cracking, and we can talk in the closed session on some more details in trends we're seeing. 1:00:00 Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) - He said earlier Cuban guards completely surround the Maduro government. Does that mean that Maduro is dependent on the Cuban security and intelligence forces for his continuation in office? Fuller - Senator, I think it's a good sense of where the loyalty of the Venezuelan people are that to his immediate security forces made up of Cubans. Cotton - So the men that surround Maduro, like our Secret Service, are Cubans not Venezuelans. Fuller - That's my understanding and assessment. 1:01:54 Fuller - I would also mention that the presence of China, China has not been helpful in a diplomatic way. I will leave that to the diplomats. China is there and involved in cyber in ways that are absolutely not helpful to the democratic outcome. 1:18:47 Sen Tim Kaine (VA) - If the world wants to see a democracy versus a dictatorship challenge Venezuela is just like the perfect test case for circa 2019, what do democracies care for an what dictatorships care for, Venezuela government of Maduro is supported by Russia, Cuba, and Iran. And they are enabling him to do all kinds of horrible things economically and in violation of human rights. The interim government, which has a constitutional claim in the vacancy of a president, the speaker of the legislative assembly becomes interim president supported by the United States and the EU. You really can see what the difference between democracy and the aspirations of democratic governments and dictatorship and what they care about very clearly int eh Venezuela circumstance now. Here's the reality, we are dealing with regional institutions like the OAS, every nation has one vote. The U.S. has a hard time to get the UA asked firmly come out against the Maduro government because many Caribbean nations still support the Maduro government. They've been bribed to do so with low-price oil. But it's very hard for us to do something like this on our won and when a principal regional institution like the LAS is not completely with us it's hard to put the appropriate pressure on. Interview: Mnuchin says Trump's economic plan is working and 'we're not going back to socialism', CNBC, February 6, 2019. 00:58:37 Steven Mnuchin : I’ve always watched the stock market a lot. I’ve been in the investment business since I graduated from Yale and I’ve tended to watch the stock market every day since then... As the President talked about last night, his economic program is working. We’re not going back to socialism. We’re going on an economic plan for America that works. 2019 State of the Union Address: Trump appeals for unity to end political gridlock, February 5, 2019. 2019 State of the Union Address: Trump Praises the Venezuela Coup, February 5, 2019. 1:05:28 President Donald Trump - Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido. We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom -- and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair. Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence --- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. Interview: President Trump on "Face the Nation," CBS News, February 3, 2019. 00:42:58 MARGARET BRENNAN: What would make you use the U.S. military in Venezuela? What's the national security interest? PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well I don't want to say that. But certainly it's something that's on the- it's an option. MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you personally negotiate with Nicolás Maduro to convince him to exit. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well he is requested a meeting and I've turned it down because we're very far along in the process. You have a young and energetic gentleman but you have other people within that same group that have been very very - if you talk about democracy - it's really democracy in action. MARGARET BRENNAN: When did he request a meeting? PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're going to see what happened. A number of months ago he wanted to meet. Interview: National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton, interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, Hugh Hewitt Book Club, February 1, 2019. Transcript

    Sound Clips:

    01:20:23 Hugh Hewitt: There are reports of Venezuela shipping gold to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a very close ally of ours. Have you asked the UAE to sequester that gold? John Bolton: Let me just say this. We’re obviously aware of those reports consistent with what we did on Monday against PDVSA, the state-owned oil monopoly where we imposed crippling sanctions. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, is implementing them as we speak. We’re also looking at cutting off other streams of revenue and assets for the Maduro mafia, and that certainly includes gold. And we’ve already taken some steps to neutralize gold that’s been out of the country used as collateral for bank loans. We’ve frozen, and our friends in Europe, have frozen a substantial amount of that. We want to try and do the same here. We’re on top of it. That’s really all I can say at the moment. Council Session: Political Situation in Venezuela, Atlantic Council, January 30, 2019.

    Witnesses:

    Ed Royce - Former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Carlos Alfredo Vecchio - Voluntad Popular Co-Founder, Interim Venezuelan Charge d’Affaires to the U.S. Julio Borges - Former President for the National Assembly of Venezuela David O’Sullivan - European Union Ambassador to the United States

    Sound Clips:

    11:30 Carlos Alfredo Vecchio (via translator): What do we want to do? What is what we are asking the international community to support us with? First, to put an end to the usurpation of power by Nicolas Maduro. We cannot resolve the political and economic and social crisis as long as the dictatorship is in place. And this is something that we have to make clear. That is my priority, is to put an end to that and to help orchestrate international support to put an end to Maduro's dictatorship.

    13:30 Carlos Alfredo Vecchio (via translator): Just to make very clear, I mean, from an economic point of view, we believe in an open market, an open economy. We believe in the private sector, we believe in the international and the national sectors, though, often, of course, our main source of revenue is the oil sector. So that would be a key element to recover our country, and we need to open that market. We need to increase our oil production.

    39:15 David O’Sullivan: I think we absolutely share the same objective here. The European Union has always believed that the situation in Venezuela is unsustainable. We did not accept the results of the so-called elections last year. We declined collectively to attend the inauguration. And we are wholly supportive of the efforts of the National Assembly and Guaido to restore true democracy and free and fair elections.

    48:00 Representative Ed Royce (CA): And a few years ago when the people in Venezuela elected the National Assembly, over two-thirds opposition to Maduro, he doubled down by asking China to bring the ZTE Corporation in and do a social credit system inside Venezuela on the same basis that it's done in China, which means that you now need that card in order to get food or medicine or your pension or your basic services.

    48:30 Representative Ed Royce (CA): The fact that this ZTE-type arrangement exists in Venezuela, and now it exists in North Korea, and there's one other country where they have a contract—they're putting it in the Republic of Iran—this represents a new challenge to democracies.

    1:15:00 Carlos Alfredo Vecchio: Just to make very clear, I mean, from an economic point of view, we believe in an open market, an open economy. We believe in the private sector, we believe in the international and the national sectors, though, often, of course, our main source of revenue is the oil sector. So that would be a key element to recover our country, and we need to open that market. We need to increase our oil production.

    1:23:30 Carlos Alfredo Vecchio: Those agreements that has not been recognized by an international examiner, who has been illegal, we will not recognize illegal agreements. The rest, yes, we will comply with that. And let me send a clear message. For example, the only way that bond holders will not get paid, if Maduro remains in power. Nobody will complain with them. And China has to understand that, and Russia has to understand that.

    Discussion: Political Situation in Venezuela, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 29, 2019.

    Witnesses:

    Gustavo Tarre - George Washington University, CSIS Americas Program member, Designated Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of American States (appointed by Juan Guaido William Brownfield - Former US Ambassador to Venezuela, Chile, and Columbia during the George W. Bush administration and Obama administration Michael Matera - Center for Strategic & International Studies, America’s Program Director

    Sound Clips:

    3:30 Michael Matera: In what is shaping up to be a very unstable and potentially explosive situation in Venezuela, the leading authoritarian nations of the world have stood by Maduro. Russia, Iran, Turkey, China, and Cuba, among a few others, have stated their continued recognition of Maduro. The future of Venezuela is turning more clearly than ever into a proxy struggle between the authoritarian regimes and the democratic nations. Venezuela could easily become the active front on which this struggle is defined.

    8:15 Gustavo Tarre: Not only because his knowledge of Venezuela— Madea Benjamin: Not easy because you are here representing a coup. You are totally illegitimate. Nobody elected Juan Guaido, and nobody legitimate appointed you. You are taking Venezuela down the path of a civil war— Unknown Male Speaker: Excuse me. Excuse me, ma’am. Madea Benjamin: How dare you go to a civil war? What kind of patriot are you that allow yourself to be manipulated— Unknown Male Speaker: Out. Get out. Madea Benjamin: —by Donald Trump, John Bolton, and now Elliott Abrams, the ultra hawk. It is a very dangerous situation. We need negotiations, which is why we should be supporting Mexico and Uruguay in their call for negotiations. You don't follow the coup collaborators, like this man right here. Say no to coup. Unknown Male Speaker: See ‘ya. Ambassador— Madea Benjamin: We’re in the 21st century.

    1:08:50 William Brownfield: What is the Cuban interest? It's 50,000 barrels of oil a day to an energy-starved nation. What is the Chinese approach? It is very much an economic approach, which is to say there are raw materials of great importance to the Chinese economy that are located in Venezuela, and they have a long-term economic interest in having access to them, driven by economics. Russia is more complicated. They do not need oil. They are, in fact, one of the three largest oil producers in the world right now, who produce more than their national need. It is geostrategic politics. I would offer everyone two thoughts—because I have taken this question from excellent representatives of the media over the last week with some frequency—first, don't listen that closely to the words that you hear from the governments of China or Russia. See if they put another billion or two or three billion investment into Venezuela. Money talks, and I have not seen evidence of that, which suggests that they, too, are pausing and taking a look at what happens. And second, if I could be Russia-specific briefly, I would note, and we all realize this, that over the last 10 years or so, Russia annexed the Crimea, and the Western democracies criticized and protested. Russia created two new republics—one in South Ossetia, the other in North Georgia, I believe—and the Western world protested. Russia at least supported, and I would argue actually infiltrated, large numbers of security personnel into the two easternmost provinces of Ukraine, and the Western world criticized. But at the end of the day, geography and history determined the Crimea is still under Russian control, South Ossetia and North Georgia still exist as independent states, and Russian influence is still quite visible in and whatever the other province is called. All right. That is geographic reality. We are now in the Western Hemisphere. If Brazil and Colombia and Argentina and Canada and the United States take a position, those same geographic realities will, in fact, move in the other direction. Of course we must listen to the Russian and Chinese governments—they are two of perhaps the three most important governments in the world—but we're entitled to use our brains as we calculate what they are saying and how we respond to it.

    1:16:30 William Brownfield: What if Maduro hangs on yet once again, which by the way, ladies and gentlemen, is not inconceivable; it's happened before. We had not quite this much of a conversation, but in 2017 some sensed that things might be happening, and they did not happen. Is it possible again? Of course, it is. That is why we talk about a strategy, an international community strategy with two elements: one element being focused on the Maduro de _____(00:35) esta, the removal of that government, and that strategic component is not eliminated until someone new has moved into Miraflores Palace; and the second, related but separate element of planning for the day after.

    Hearing: Hearing to Consider Worldwide Threats, Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate, January 29, 2019. C-SPAN Report Video

    Witnesses:

    Dan Coats - Director of National Intelligence Christopher Wray - FBI Director Gina Haspel - CIA Director Lt. General Robert Ashley - Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director General Paul Nakasone - National Security Agency Director

    Sound Clips:

    1:11:00 Senator Marco Rubio (FL): We know they have openly and repeatedly, at least Maduro has, invited the Russians and Putin to establish either a rotational or a permanent presence somewhere in Venezuela, thereby creating a Russian military presence in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, they flew, about three weeks ago or a month ago, two Russian nuclear-capable bombers into the Caribbean Sea.

    1:12:15 Senator Marco Rubio (FL): Is it not in the national interest of the United States of America that the Maduro regime fall and be replaced by a democratic and more responsible government?

    1:15:15 Lieutenant General Robert Ashley: The reference you made to the Tu-160 Blackjacks that flew those strategic bombers, third iteration of that—first time was in '08, and then '14, and we've seen it again. As far as presence on the ground, we can talk a little bit more detail in a closed session about where we see Russia and China going with that greater instability. But in the open press, what you've seen thus far really is nothing more than just vocal support that's coming out of Moscow and that's coming out of China as well, but there is relationship there. From the military standpoint in the way of training, lots of Venezuelan officers go to Russia for training, and there's a reciprocal relationship for equipping them as well.

    1:16:00 Senator Angus King (ME): In light of Senator Rubio's comments, I'd just like to note of caution, he listed refugee flows, human rights abuses, and corruption. There are lots of countries in the world that meet that description, and our right or responsibility to generate regime change in a situation like that, I think, is a slippery slope. And I have some real caution about what our vital interests are and whether it's our right or responsibility to take action to try to change the government of another sovereign country. That same description would have led us into a much more active involvement in Syria, for example, five or six years ago, other parts of the country. I just wanted to note that.

    Fox Business Video: John Bolton on Regime Change in Venezuela, Iraqi Christian HRC, Twitter, January 28, 2019. White House Daily Briefing: Trump Administration sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company, January 28, 2019.

    Speakers:

    Steve Mnuchin - Treasury Secretary

    John Bolton - National Security Advisor

    Sound Clips:

    1:26 John Bolton: As you know, on January the 23rd, President Trump officially recognized the president of the Venezuela National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim president of Venezuela. Venezuela's National Assembly invoked Article 233 of the country's constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate. This action was a statement that the people of Venezuela have had enough of oppression, corruption, and economic hardship. Since then, 21 other governments in the region and across the world have joined the United States in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

    3:53 John Bolton: I reiterate that the United States will hold Venezuelan security forces responsible for the safety of all U.S. diplomatic personnel, the National Assembly, and President Guido. Any violence against these groups would signify a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response.

    4:24 Steven Mnuchin: Today Treasury took action against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, to help prevent the further diversion of Venezuela’s assets by former President Maduro.

    5:21 Steven Mnuchin: The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the interim president or a subsequent democratically elected government who is committed to taking concrete and meaningful actions to combat corruption.

    5:40 Steven Mnuchin: Today OFAC also issued a number of general licenses that authorize certain transactions and activities with PDVSA for limited periods of time to minimize any immediate disruptions and support of ongoing humanitarian efforts.

    6:00 Steven Mnuchin: Citgo assets in the United States will be able to continue to operate provided that any funds that would otherwise go to PDVSA instead will go into a blocked account in the United States.

    6:10 Steven Mnuchin: Refineries in the United States have already been taking steps to reduce the reliance on imports from Venezuela. Those imports have fallen substantially in recent months. We have also issued general licenses to ensure that certain European and Caribbean countries can make an orderly transition.

    6:20 Steven Mnuchin: We continue to call on all of our allies and partners to join the United States in recognizing Interim President Guaido in blocking Maduro from being able to access PDVSA funds.

    7:10 Reporter: Is there any circumstance under which American forces would get involved? John Bolton: Well, the president has made it very clear on this matter that all options are on the table.

    7:43 Steven Mnuchin: But effective immediately, any purchases of Venezuelan oil by U.S. entities, money will have to go into blocked accounts. Now, I've been in touch with many of the refineries. There is a significant amount of oil that's at sea that's already been paid for. That oil will continue to come to the United States. If the people in Venezuela want to continue to sell us oil, as long as that money goes into blocked accounts, we'll continue to take it. Otherwise, we will not be buying it. And again, we have issued general licenses, so the refineries in the United States can continue to operate.

    9:06 Steven Mnuchin: The purpose of sanctions is to change behavior. So when there is a recognition that PDVSA is the property of the rightful rulers, the rightful leaders, the president, then, indeed, that money will be available to Guaido.

    9:52 John Bolton: And the authoritarian regime of Chavez and Maduro has allowed penetration by adversaries of the United States, not least of which is Cuba. Some call the country now Cubazuela, reflecting the grip that Cuba’s military and security forces have on the Maduro regime. We think that’s a strategic significant threat to the United States, and there are others as well, including Iran’s interest in Venezuelan’s uranium deposits.

    15:56 Steven Mnuchin: We're dealing with Venezuelan oil that is a rather modest part of our overall supply. Again, we're a net exporter of energy. We are particularly concerned that there were a handful of refineries that had a dependence on Venezuelan oil. I think they read the tea leaves. They reduced that dependence significantly along the way. Most of them have in the neighborhood of 10% or less of their dependent on Venezuelan oil. So, I don't expect that people will see an impact on the gas pumps.

    17:10 Steven Mnuchin: I’m sure many of our friends in the Middle East will be happy to make up the supply as we push down Venezuela’s supply.

    Meeting: Secretary Pompeo Speaks at U.N. Security Council Meeting on Venezuela, January 26, 2019.

    Speaker:

    Mike Pompeo - Secretary of State

    Sound Clips:

    2:20 Mike Pompeo: Let’s be crystal clear: The foreign power meddling in Venezuela today is Cuba. Cuba has directly made matters worse and the United States and our partners are the true friends of the Venezuelan people.

    16:40 Mike Pompeo: Such scenes of misery are now the norm in Venezuela, where millions of children are suffering from malnutrition and starvation, thanks to a socialist experiment that caused the economy to collapse.

    20:24 Mike Pompeo: And now it’s time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays. No more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem... But no regime has done more to sustain the nightmarish condition of the Venezuelan people than the regime in Havana. For years, Cuban security and intelligence thugs, invited into Venezuela by Maduro himself and those around him, have sustained this illegitimate rule. They have trained Maduro’s security and intelligence henchmen in Cuba’s own worst practices. Cuba’s interior ministry even provides former President Maduro’s personal security... Some countries have publicly taken former President Maduro’s side. China, Russia, Syria, and Iran are just four of them. Just this morning, we tried to find a way for this council to speak in one voice in support of the Venezuelan people and our democratic ideals through a presidential statement not this council. But our Russian and Chinese colleagues refused to let this move forward. It’s not a surprise that those that rule without democracy in their own countries are trying to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straights.

    Meeting: U.N. Security Council Meeting on the Situation in Venezuela, January 26, 2019.

    Speakers:

    Jorge Arreaza - Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elliott Abrams - U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela

    Sound Clips:

    00:10 Jorge Arreaza: So 2002 is a direct precedent to what is happening. They were behind the coup d’etat. They weren’t as much in the vanguard or in advance as this time. They recognized Carmona, the dictator for the 72 hours that it lasted... It was on the 22nd, where Vice President Pence basically in a tweet gave a green light for a coup d’etat in Venezuela. As Under Secretary General said the interim President is self proclaimed. There was no ceremony. It was self proclamation by a member of Parliament at a public rally, at a peaceful public rally, one of many that there have been over the past years... If one of you can tell me in which article and which provision of the United Nations charter you can find the legal basis for self proclamation who wasn’t elected by anyone as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, then we can open a discussion on the legal aspects, but I don’t think that will happen... At last we have a chance to speak. We have a written text but before that I wanted to share some thoughts with you. Indeed, we can even thank Mr. Mike Pompeo because in the face of failure at the Organization of American States on the 24th of January, they didn’t have enough weight to impose a resolution, well they convened a meeting of the Security Council. In fact, we - President Maduro - thought of appealing to this body not only to debate the case of Venezuela but rather the blatant and gross intervention, and mechanisms of interference by the United States in our country. In this case, the United States is not behind the coup d’etat, it is in advance in the vanguard of the coup d’etat. It is dictating the orders not only to the Venezuelan opposition but also to the satellite governments in the region, and it seems it Europe and in other parts of the world.

    31:47 Elliot Abrams: I can not respond to every attack that was made on every country here. The insults that were made by calling many countries here “satellites”. In fact, it was interesting that every single country that was attacked - or criticized - was a democracy. Every single one that you criticized was a democracy... Today there is a satellite present here and it is Venezuela, which is unfortunately has become a satellite of Cuba and Russia... The regime is hiding behind, and it’s spokesman is hiding behind, the laws and constitution of Venezuela.

    Hearing: Defense Department Nominations, Senate Armed Services Committee, January 25, 2019.

    Witness:

    Vice Admiral Craig Faller - US Southern Command Commander

    Sound Clips:

    1:37:00 Senator Bill Nelson (FL): What do you think that is the proper role of SouthCom in supporting the Venezuelan people now, in this time of exceptional chaos? Craig Faller: Senator, the Southern Command is focused on supporting our partners—Brazil, Columbia, those that have been most affected by the migrants, the spillover of some one-million-plus in Columbia. Recently, visited Columbia was the secretary of defense. President Duque is keenly aware and sharply focused on all his security challenges, and this is at the top of that list. As a result of the Columbian government's request, we intend to deploy the hospital ship Comfort—it will be underway shortly. It was delayed because of the hurricane—to the region to help our partners offset some of the impacts of this, particularly with the medical care that's been required and the strain that's placed on the resources. Fox Business Video: Vice President Mike Pence Tweet about US recognizing Guaido as Venezuelan President, Twitter, January 23, 2019. 00:33:32 Vice President Mike Pence: Today, freedom broke out in Venezuela with the recognition of a new interim president in Juan Guaido, a courageous man who stepped forward, the President of the National Assembly who took the oath of office, and I couldn’t be more proud that at President Trump’s direction, the United States of America became the first country in the world to recognize President Guaido, and now many other nations join us as well. Video: Vice President Mike Pence Tweet about Venezuela, Twitter, January 22, 2019. Vice President Mike Pence: Hola. I’m Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, and on behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you - the people of Venezuela - raise your voices in a call for freedom. Nicholas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He’s never won the Presidency in a free and fair election and he’s maintained his grip on power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him. The United States joins with all freedom loving nations in recognizing the National Assembly as the last vestige of democracy in your country, for it’s the only body elected by you, the people. As such, the United States supports the courageous decision by Juan Guaido, the President of your National Assembly, to assert that body’s constitutional powers, declare Maduro a usurper, and call for the establishment of a transitional government. As you make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say to all the good people of Venezuela, estamos con ustedes. We are with you. We stand with you and we will stay with you until democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of libertad. Muchas gracias y vayan con Dios. Hearing: Foreign Policy in the Western Hemisphere, House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 11, 2018.

    Witnesses:

    Kenneth Merten - Deputy Assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Sarah-Ann Lynch - USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean

    Sound Clips:

    27:30 Chairman Ed Royce (CA): And meanwhile, despite sitting on the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuelan oil production has fallen by half in the last few years. Venezuela in the meantime has been sending several hundred thousand barrels of oil every day to China as repayment on the tens of billions of dollars it has borrowed. And more recently, China's development bank announced a new quarter-billion dollar investment to shore up Venezuela's struggling oil production. Video: You're Welcome, Duane Johnson, Moana, YouTube, November 28, 2019. Hearing: The Collapse of the Rule of Law in Venezuela, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 19, 2017.

    Witness:

    Luis Almagro - Secretary General of the Organization of American States

    Sound Clips:

    07:15 Senator Marco Rubio: I also know this, and I do not speak for the president, but I’ve certainly spoken to the president, and I will only reiterate what he has already said, and I’ve been saying this now for a number of days: it is my—I have 100% confidence that if democracy is destroyed once and for all in Venezuela on the 30th in terms of the Maduro regime, the president of the U.S. is prepared to act unilaterally in a significant and swift way. And that is not a threat; that is the reporting of the truth. Hearing: Full Committee Hearing Venezuela: Options for U.S. Policy, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, March 2, 2017.

    Witnesses:

    Dr. David Smilde - Professor at Tulane University & NYT writer Dr. Shannon O’Neil - Council on Foreign Relations Former equity analyst at Indosuez Capital and Credit Lyonnais Securities Member of the Board of Directors at Rassini, an multinational auto parts manufacturers that make parts for US auto companies Senior advisor for Latin America at Macro Advisory Partners, a multinational consulting firm founded in 2013 Mark Feierstein - Center for Strategic and International Studies Senior Advisor to the Albright Stonbridge Group CLS Strategies GBA Strategies Special assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs Former Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID Worked in State Dept and USAID in Clinton Administration Former principal at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, an international political consulting firm

    Sound Clips:

    21:53 Shannon O’Neil: Multilateral initiatives are perhaps more important and potentially more fruitful as a means to influence Venezuela. This will mean working behind the scenes to galvanize opposition and condemnation for the Maduro regime. This’ll be more effective than U.S. efforts alone as it will be much harder for the Venezuelan government to dismiss the criticisms and the actions of its South American neighbors as imperialist overreach. And such a coalition is much more possible today than in any time in the recent past, due both to the accelerating repression and the breaking of the last democratic norms in Venezuela, and due to the very different stances of South America’s recently elected leaders, particularly in Peru, in Brazil, and in Argentina.

    41:12 Senator Bob Menendez: I’m pleased to have led a bipartisan and bicameral letter of my colleagues, urging the administration to take actions against the administration, and I look forward for a continuing engagement. But I hope we can work together to hold human-rights violators and drug traffickers, send a clear message, “If you’re going to violate rights of others inside of Venezuela, know that you’re next. Know that you’re next.” And while the Maduro regime may have sanctioned me and forbidden my entry into Venezuela, it will not stop me from pursuing this issue.

    Video Compilation: Either With Us or With the Terrorists - President George W. Bush, YouTube, May 26, 2013 Additional Reading

    Article: How Washington funded the counterrevolution in Venezuela by Tim Gill and Rebecca Hansen, The Nation, February 8, 2019.

    Statement: Pelosi statement on the situation in Venezuela, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, February 8, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela says plan from Miami delivered weapons for use by enemies of Maduro by Tim Johnson, McClatchy DC, February 7, 2019.

    Article: Senators fail to reach deal on recognizing Venezuela's Guaido, aide says by Daniel Flatley, Bloomberg, February 7, 2019.

    Article: Bipartisan Venezuela legislation fizzles over use of military force by Leigh Ann Caldwell and Josh Lederman, NBC News, February 6, 2019.

    Article: Spotify podcast acquisitions will bring a lot of money into tiny industry by Taylor Telford, The Washington Post, February 6, 2019.

    Article: Spotify technology S.A. announces financial results for fourth quarter 2018, Spotify Investors, February 6, 2019.

    Article: Trump's Venezuela envoy to testify to U.S. House panel amid crisis by Patricia Zengerle and Arshad Mohammed, Reuters, February 6, 2019.

    Article: Russia starts to worry Maduro's grip is slipping in Venezuela, The Moscow Times, February 6, 2019.

    Article: French, German farmers destroy crops after GMOs found in BAyer seeds by Sybille de La Hamaide, Reuters, February 6, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela opposition will name new Citgo board this week: WSJ, Reuters, February 6, 2019.

    Article: How the neocons captured Donald Trump by Brian D'Haeseleer, The Washington Post, February 5, 2019.

    Article: Lima group warns against Venezuela military intervention, France 24, February 5, 2019.

    Article: Maduro's allies: Who backs the Venezuelan regime? by Rocio Cara Labrador, Council on Foreign Relations, February 5, 2019.

    Article: What does it mean for the United States to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela's President? by Scott R. Anderson, Lawfare, February 1, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela opposition leader outlines plan to revive nation by Ryan Dube and Kejal Vyas, The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2019.

    Article: Elliott Abrams, Trump's pick to bring "democracy" to Venezuela, has spent his life crushing democracy by John Schwarz, The Intercept, January 30, 2019.

    Article: U.S. push to oust Venezuela's Maduro marks first shot in plan to reshape Latin America by Jessica Donati, Vivian Salama, and Ian Talley, The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2019.

    Article: The real reason why those foreign powers are so interested in Venezuela by Melik Kaylan, Forbes, January 29, 2019.

    Article: How Citgo, a U.S. oil company, became Venezuela's lifeline by Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, January 29, 2019.

    Article: US diplomat convicted over Iran-Contra appointed special envoy for Venezuela by Julian Borger, The Guardian, January 26, 2019.

    Tweet: America stands by the people of #Venezuela... Nancy Pelosi, Twitter, January 24, 2019.

    Article: Russia warns U.S. not to intervene in Venezuela as military backs Maduro by Ana Vanessa Herrero and Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, January 24, 2019.

    Tweet: The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at... Donald J. Trump, January 23, 2019.

    Tweet: Today @POTUS announced the U.S. officially recognizes Juan Guaido as... Vice President Mike Pence, January 23, 2019.

    Tweet: .@POTUS & the US stand w/ the Venezuelan peopl eas they seek to regain their liberty from... Vice President Mike Pence, January 22, 2019.

    Article: Brazil's Bolsonaro pledges action to 'restore democracy' in Venezuela, Reuters, January 17, 2019.

    Article: Venezuela is in crisis. So how did Maduro secure a second term? by Ana Vanessa Herrero and Megan Specia, The New York Times, January 10, 2019.

    Article: Lima group says it won't recognize Maduro's new term as president of Venezuela by Jim Wyss, Miami Herald, January 4, 2019.

    Article: Trump taps ex-Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan as acting Defense Secretary by Darko Janjevic, DW, December 23, 2018.

    Article: Russia sends 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela by Vladimir Isachenkov, Navy Times, December 10, 2018.

    Article: Russia signs $6 billion investment deals with Venezuela, Maduro says, The Moscow Times, December 7, 2018.

    Press Release: Rubio, Van Hollen urge administration to investigate ZTE business with Venezuelan government, Marco Rubio Newsroom, November 28, 2018.

    Article: How ZTE helps Venezuela create China-style social control by Angus Berwick, Reuters, November 14, 2018.

    Article: Trump administration tightens sanctions gains Cuba, Venezuela by Courtney McBride, The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2018.

    Article: Canada's Rusoro Mining reaches $1.3B deal with Venezuela by Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.com, October 12, 2018.

    Article: Rusoro Mining has received a settlement proposal from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Rusoro Mining News, October 11, 2018.

    Article: Venezuela hands China more oil peresence, but no mention of new funds by Ben Blanchard and Alexandra Ulmer, Reuters, September 14, 2018.

    Article: Trump administration discussed coup plans with rebel Venezuelan officers by Ernesto Londono and Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, September 8, 2018.

    Article: A record-breaking market doesn't matter to most Americans by Helaine Olen, The Washington Post, August 22, 2018.

    Article: The politics of food in Venezuela by Ana Felicien, Christina Schiavoni, and Liccia Romero, Monthly Review, June 1, 2018.html) by William Neuman and Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, May 20, 2018.

    Article: Regional leaders call on Venezuela to suspend 'illegitimate' election by Eli Meixler, Time, May 15, 2018.

    Article: [Venezuela election won by Maduro amid widespread disillusionment](https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/20/world/americas/venezuela-election.

    Article: US media ignore - and applaud - economic war on Venezuela by Gregory Shupak, Common Dreams, March 22, 2018.

    Article: Rusoro mining wins key U.S. court ruling confirming arbitration award, Rusoro Mining News, March 14, 2018.

    Article: Venezuela's Maduro calls for 'mega-election' that could cement his power by Rachelle Krygier, The Washington Post, February 22, 2018.

    Article: Venezuela opposition will boycott election, and Maduro tightens his hold by Ana Vanessa Herrero and Kirk Semple, The New York Times, February 21, 2018.

    Article: Venezuela launches virtual currency, hoping to resuscitate economy by Kirk Semple and Nathaniel Popper, The New York Times, February 20, 2018.

    Tweet: The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to... Marco Rubio, February 9, 2018.

    Article: Few challengers in sight, Venezuela sets April 22 for presidential vote by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, February 7, 2018.

    Briefing: Background briefing on the Secretary's travel to Austin, Texas; Mexico City, Mexico; San Carlos Bariloche, Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Bogota, Colombia; and Kingston, Jamaica, Senior State Department Officials, U.S. Department of State, January 29, 2018.

    Article: Venezuela calls for early elections, and Maduro aims to retain control by Kirk Semple, The New York Times, January 23, 2018.

    Article: Tired of regional critics, Venezuela looks to Russia and China by Ernesto Londono, The New York Times, December 27, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela puts up roadblock for opposition in next presidential vote by Ana Vanessa Herrero, The New York Times, December 20, 2017.

    Article: As Venezuela opposition shuns vote, leader's party tightens grip on power by Kirk Semple, The New York Times, December 10, 2017.

    Article: Putin extends lifeline to cash-strapped Venezuela by Patrick Gillespie, CNN Business, November 15, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela's two legislatures duel, but only one has ammunition by Kirk Semple, The New York Times, November 3, 2017.

    Advisory: Reports from financial institutions are critical to stopping, deterring, and preventing the proceeds tied to suspected Venezuelan public corruption from moving through the U.S. financial system, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, September 20, 2017.

    Article: White House raises pressure on Venezuela with new financial sanctions by Clifford Krauss, The New York Times, August 25, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela's new, powerful assembly takes over legislature's duties by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, August 18, 2017.

    Report: Vladimir's Venezuela - leveraging loans to Caracas, Moscow snaps up oil assets by Marianna Parraga and Alexandra Ulmer, Reuters, August 11, 2017.

    Article: Trump says military is 'locked and loaded' and North Korea will 'regret' threats by Peter Baker, The New York Times, August 11, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela's new assembly members share a goal: Stifle dissent by Nicholas Casey and Ana Vanessa Herrero, The New York Times, August 3, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela vote marred by violence, including candidate's death by Nicholas Casey, Patricia Torres, and Ana Vanessa Herrero, The New York Times, July 30, 2017.

    Article: Goldman buys $2.8 billion worth of Venezuelan bonds, and an uproar begins by Landon Thomas Jr., The New York Times, May 30, 2017.

    Article: Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela President, calls for a rewrite of the constitution by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, May 1, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela says it will leave pro-democracy organization by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, April 26, 2017.

    Article: Crisis-ridden Venezuela gave $500k to Trump inauguration by Patrick Gillespie and Flora Charner, CNN Money, April 20, 2017.

    Article: Venezuelan court revises ruling that nullified legislature by Nicholas Casey and Patricia Torres, The New York Times, April 1, 2017.

    Article: As criticism mounts, Venezuela asks high court revisit power grab by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, March 31, 2017.

    Article: Venezuela muzzles legislature, moving closer to one-man rule by Nicholas Casey and Patricia Torres, The New York Times, March 30, 2017.

    Article: An actual American war criminal may become our second-ranking diplomat by Eric Alterman, The Nation, February 2, 2017.

    Article: What happened when Venezuela outlawed its own currency by Jeremy Ashkenas and Quoctrung Bui, The New York Times, December 30, 2016.

    Article: Venezuela: three opposition lawmakers resign in concession to Maduro, Reuters, November 15, 2016.

    Article: Venezuelan lawmakers vote to put President Nicolas Maduro on trial by Ana Vanessa Herrero and Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, October 25, 2016.

    Article: Venezuelan electoral panel halts effort to recall President Nicolas Maduro by Patricia Torres and Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, October 21 2016.

    Article: Venezuela's supreme court consolidates Nicolas Maduro's power by Elisabeth Malkin and Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, October 12, 2016.

    Article: O.A.S. issues rebuke to Venezuela citing threats to democracy by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, May 31, 2016.

    Article: Venezuela panel clears the way for a process to oust Nicolas Maduro by Patricia Torres and Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, April 26, 2016.

    Article: Venezuela's court deals another blow to opposition lawmakers by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, April 12, 2016.

    Article: In power struggle, Venezuela's high court declares parliament in contempt by Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2016.

    Article: Venezuela: Court held lawmakers in contempt by Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, January 11, 2016.

    Article: Venezuela opposition takes reins of assembly as tensions rise by William Neuman and Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, January 5, 2016.

    Article: 9 opposition candidates barred from Venezuela's December ballot by William Neuman, The New York Times, August 23, 2015.

    Article: Venezuelan court rejects challenge to Presidential election results by William Neuman, The New York Times, August 7, 2013.

    Article: Kerry encourages Venezuela recount by William Neuman, The New York Times, April 17, 2013.

    Report: Study mission of the Carter Center in 2013 Presidential elections in Venezuela, The Carter Center, April 14, 2013.

    Article: Venezuela coup linked to Bush team by Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian, April 21, 2002.

    Article: Uprising in Venezuela: The government; Venezuela's chief forced to resign; civilian installed by Juan Forero, The New York Times, April 13, 2002.

    Article: 12 years of tortured truth on El Salvador by Guy Gugliotta and Douglas Farrah, The Washington Post, March 21, 1993.

    Article: Bush pardons Weinberger, 5 others in Iran-Contra;Act called cover-up by Robert Jackson and Ronald J. Ostrow, The Los Angeles Times, December 25, 1992.

    Article: Elliot Abrams admits his guild on 2 counts in Contra cover-up by David Johnston, The New York Times, October 8, 1991.

    Article: Aide says U.S. planes carried contra arms, Archives, The New York Times, August 15, 1987.

    Resources

    Bio: Elliot Abrams, Council on Foreign Affairs

    National Endowment for Democracy: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations

    Community Suggestions

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • In the final days of the 115th Congress, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the First Step Act, which made changes to the operation of the federal prison system. In this episode, learn every detail of this new law, including the big money interests who advocated for its passage and their possible motivations for doing so.

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    CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress

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    Bills/Laws S.756 - First Step Act of 2018 Govtrack Link Committee Summary Bill Text House Final Vote Results Senate Final Vote Results Sponsor: Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK) Original bill numbers for the First Step Act were S.2795 and HR 5682 First Step Act Outline TITLE I - RECIDIVISM REDUCTION Sec. 101: Risk and needs assessment system Orders the Attorney General to conduct a review current and possible recidivism reduction programs, including a review of products manufactured overseas the could be produced by prisoners and would not compete with the domestic private sector Orders the Attorney General to create an assessment system for each prisoner to be conducted during the intake process that will classify each of them as having minimum, low, medium, or high risk of recidivism, the prisoner’s likelihood of violent or serious misconduct, and assign them to programs accordingly. This process must be published on the Department of Justice website by July 19, 2019 (210 days after enactment). Prerelease custody means home confinement with 24 hour electronic monitoring, with the possibility of being allowed to leave to go to work, to participate in a recidivism reduction program, perform community service, go to the doctor, attend religious services, attend weddings or funerals, or visit a seriously ill family member. Sec. 102: Implementation of Risk and Needs Assessment System By mid-January 2020, the Attorney General must implement the new risk assessment system and complete the initial intake risk assessments of each prisoner and expand the recidivism reduction programs The Attorney General “shall” develop polices for the warden of each prison to enter into partnerships with “non-profit and other private organizations including faith-based, art, and community-based organizations”, schools, and “private entities that will deliver vocational training and certifications, provide equipment to facilitate vocational training…employ prisoners, or assist prisoners in prerelease custody or supervised related in finding employment” and “industry sponsored organization that will deliver workforce development and training, on a paid or volunteer basis.” Priority for participation will be given to medium and high risk prisoners Sec. 104: Authorization of Appropriations Authorizes, but does not appropriate, $75 million per year from 2019 to 2023. Sec. 106: Faith-Based Considerations In considering “any entity of any kind” for contracts “the fact that it may be or is faith-based may not be a basis for any discrimination against it in any manner or for any purpose.” Entities “may not engage in explicitly religious activities using direct financial assistance made available under this title” Sec. 107: Independent Review Committee The National Institute of Justice will select a “nonpartisan and nonprofit organization… to host the Independent Review Committee" The Committee will have 6 members selected by the nonprofit organization, 2 of whom must have published peer-reviewed scholarship about the risk and needs assessments in both corrections and community settings, 2 corrections officers - 1 of whom must have experience working in the Bureau of Prisons, and 1 individual with expertise in risk assessment implementation. The Committee will assist the Attorney General in reviewing the current system and making recommendations for the new system. TITLE II - BUREAU OF PRISONS SECURE FIREARMS STORAGE Sec. 202: Secure Firearms Storage Requires secure storage areas for Bureau of Prisons employees to store their firearms on the outside of the prisoner area. Allows Bureau of Prison employees to store firearms lockboxes in their cars Allows Bureau of Prison employees “to carry concealed firearms on the premises outside of the secure perimeter of the institution” TITLE III - RESTRAINTS ON PREGNANT PRISONERS PROHIBITED Sec. 301: Use of Restraints on Prisoners During the Period of Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery Prohibited From the day a prisoner’s pregnancy is confirmed and ending 12 weeks or longer after the birth, a “prisoner in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, or in the custody of the United States Marshals Service… shall not be placed in restraints” Will not apply to state prisons or local jails Exceptions include if the prisoner is an “immediate and credible flight risk” or if she poses an “immediate and serious threat of harm to herself or others” No matter what, a pregnant or recovering mother can’t: Have restraints placed around her ankles, legs, or waist Have her hands tied behind her back Be restrained using “4-point restraints" Be attached to another prisoner Within 48 hours of the pregnancy confirmation, the prisoner must be notified of the restraint restrictions (it doesn’t say how they must be notified) TITLE IV - SENTENCING REFORM Sec. 401: Reduces Sentencing for Prior Drug Felonies Changes the mandatory minimum for repeat offender with a previous “serious drug felony” (which is defined based on the length of the prison sentence: An offense for which they served more than 12 months) or a “serious violent felony” (added by this bill) from an automatic 20 year sentence to an automatic 15 year sentence. Changes the mandatory minimum for repeat offenders with two or more previous “serious drug felony or serious violent felony” convictions from a mandatory life sentence to a mandatory 25 years. Applies to cases that have not been sentenced as of the date of enactment and is not retroactive Sec. 402: "Broadening of Existing Safety Valve” Expands the criteria for leniency from mandatory minimums to include people with up to 4 prior non-volent convictions, not including minor misdemeanors. Applies to cases that have not been sentence as of the date of enactment and is not retroactive. Sec. 404: Appeals For Current Prisoners Convicted of Crack Related Crimes Allows people who were convicted of crack related crimes prior to August 3, 2010 (when the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 - which reduced the sentencing differences between crack and power cocaine - became law) to be eligible for reduced sentences. TITLE V - SECOND CHANCE ACT OF 2007 REAUTHORIZATION Sec. 502: Changes Existing Programs Creates an optional grant program for the Attorney General allowing him to provide grants to private entities along with governmental ones, for consulting services (to “evaluate methods”, “make recommendations”, etc). Authorizes, but doesn’t appropriate, $10 million per year from 2019 through 2023 ($50 million total) Sec. 503: Audits of Grantees Requires annual audits of entities receiving grants under the Second Chance Act of 2007 beginning in fiscal year 2019. Prohibits grantees from using grant money to lobby Department of Justice officials or government representatives, punishable by the full repayment of the grant and disqualification for grants for 5 years. TITLE VI- MISCELLANEOUS CRIMINAL JUSTICE Sec. 601: Placement of Prisoners Close to Families Requires that attempts be made to place a prisoners within 500 driving miles of the prisoner’s primary residence Adds “a designation of a place of imprisonment… is not reviewable by any court.” Sec. 603: Terminally Ill Prisoners Can Go Home Allows some terminally ill or elderly prisoners over the age of 60 to serve the rest of their sentences in home confinement Sec. 605: Expanding Prison Labor Allows Federal Prison Industries to sell products, except for office furniture, to government entities for use in prisons, government entities for use in disaster relief, the government of Washington DC, or “any organization” that is a 501(c)3 (charities and nonprofits), 501(c)4s (dark money “social welfare" organizations), or 501d (religious organizations). Requires an audit of Federal Prison Industries to begin within 90 days of enactment, but no due date. Sec. 611: Healthcare Products Requires the Bureau of Prisons to provide tampons and sanitary napkins to prisoners for free Sec. 613: Juvenile Solitary Confinement Prohibits juvenile solitary confinement to only when needed as a 3 hour temporary response to behavior that risks harming the juvenile or others, but it can not be used for “discipline, punishment, or retaliation” Federal Prison Industries: UNICOR UNICOR Index FPI is a “wholly-owned government corporation established by Congress on June 23, 1934. It’s mission is to protect society and reduce crime by preparing inmates for successful reentry through job training” UNICOR FAQs UNICOR 2018 Sales Report UNICOR Federal Prison Industries, Inc., Fiscal Year 2015, Annual Management Report, November 16, 2015 Shutdown Back-Pay Law

    -Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, signed January 16 2019. - Bill Text

    Additional Reading

    Article: Revolving door brings Trump-tied lobbying firm even closer to the White House by Anna Massoglia and Karl Evers-Hillstrom, OpenSecrets News, January 22, 2019.

    Article: Trump fails the first test of the First Step Act by Edward Chung, The Hill, January 10, 2019.

    Article: The First Step Act could be a big gift to CoreCivic and the private prison industry by Liliana Segura, The Intercept, December 22, 2018.

    Article: For-profit prisons strongly approve of bipartisan criminal justice reform bill by Karl Evers-Hillstrom, OpenSecrets News, December 20, 2018.

    Statement: SPLC statement on bipartisan passage of First Step Act criminal justice reform bill by Lisa Graybill, Southern Poverty Law Center, December 20, 2018.

    Article: The First Step Act is not sweeping criminal justice reform - and the risk is that it becomes the only step by Natasha Lennard, The Intercept, December 19, 2018.

    Article: Conservatives scramble to change criminal justice bill by Jordain Carney, The Hill, December 18, 2018.

    Article: The FIRST STEP Act will make us safer without the Cotton-Kennedy amendments by Tricia Forbes, The Hill, December 18, 2018.

    Article: Who no details about criminal justice 'reform'? by Thomas R. Ascik, The Hill, December 17, 2018.

    Letter: The ACLU and the Leadership Conference support S.756, and urge Senators to vote yes on Cloture and no on all amendments, The Leadership Conference, CivilRights.org, December 17, 2018.

    Article: Koch-backed criminal justice reform bill to reach Senate, All Things Considered, NPR, December 16, 2018.

    Article: The problem with the "First Step Act" by Peniel Ibe, American Friends Service Committee, December 14, 2018.

    Article: Why is a Florida for-profit prison company backing bipartisan criminal justice reform? by Steve Dontorno, Tampa Bay Times, December 7, 2018.

    Article: How the FIRST STEP Act moves criminal justice reform forward by Charlotte Resing, ACLU, December 3, 2018.

    Article: Private prison companies served with lawsuits over using detainee labor by Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian, November 25, 2018.

    Statement: GEO Group statement on federal legislation on prison reform (The FIRST STEP Act), GEO Group, November 19, 2018.

    Article: Karl Rove's crossroads GPS is dead, long live his multi-million dollar 'dark money' operation by Anna Massoglia and Karl Evers-Hillstrom, OpenSecrets News, November 16, 2018.

    Article: We are former attorneys general. We salute Jeff Sessions. by William P. Barr, Edwin Meese III, and Michael B. Mukasey, The Washington Post, November 7, 2018.

    Article: How the Koch brothers built the most powerful rightwing group you've never heard of by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Caroline Tervo, and Theda Skocpol, The Guardian, September 26, 2018.

    Article: U.S. prisoners' strike is a reminder how common inmate labor is by Ruben J. Garcia, CBS News, September 8, 2018.

    Article: Kim Kardashian, activist, visits White House to call for prisoner freedom by Amelia McDonell-Parry, Rolling Stone, September 6, 2018.

    Article: Who is Chris Young? Kim Kardashian West to meet with Donald Trump to try to get prisoner pardoned by Janice Williams, Newsweek, September 5, 2018.

    Article: Kim Kardashian West visits White House to talk prison reform by Brett Samuels, The Hill, September 5, 2018.

    Article: Kim Kardashian West to another convicted felon's case: report by Brett Samuels, The Hill, September 5, 2018.

    Article: 'Prison slavery': Inmates are paid cents while manufacturing products sold to government by Daniel Moritz-Rabson, Newsweek, August 28, 2018.

    Article: Turf war between Kushner and Sessions drove federal prison director to quit by Glenn Thrush and Danielle Ivory, The New York Times, May 24, 2018.

    Report: Attorney General Sessions announces Hugh Hurwitz as the Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice, May 18, 2018.

    Article: Beware of big philanthropy's new enthusiasm for criminal justice reform by Michelle Chen, The Nation, March 16, 2018.

    Article: Corporations and governments collude in prison slavery racket by Mark Maxey, People's World, February 7, 2018.

    Article: Super PAC priorities USA plans to spend $50 million on digital ads for 2018 by Jessica Estepa, USA Today, November 2, 2017.

    Article: Private prisons firm to lobby, campaign against recidivism by Jonathan Mattise, AP News, October 31, 2017.

    Article: Slave labor widespread at ICE detention centers, lawyers say by Mia Steinle, POGO, September 7, 2017.

    Article: The sordid case behind Jared Kushner's grudge against Chris Christie by Byron York, The Washington Examiner, April 16, 2017.

    Report: How much do incarcerated people earn in each state? by Wendy Sawyer, Prison Policy Initiative, April 10, 2017.

    Press Release: The GEO Group closes $360 million acquisition of community education centers, Company Release, GEO Group, Inc., April 6, 2017.

    Article: How a private prison company used detained immigrants for free labor by Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, April 3, 2017.

    Article: Bias in criminal risk scores is mathematically inevitable, researchers say by Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson, ProPublica, December 30, 2016.

    Article: Jailed for ending a pregnancy: How prosecutors get inventive on abortion by Molly Redden, The Guardian, November 22, 2016.

    Article: Federal prison-owned 'factories with fences' facing increased scrutiny by Safia Samee Ali, NBC News, September 4, 2016.

    Investigative Summary: Findings of fraud and other irregularities related to the manufacture and sale of combat helmets by the Federal Prison Industries and ArmorSource, LLC, to the Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, August 2016.

    Report: Federal prison industries: Background, debate, legislative history, and policy options, Congressional Research Service, May 11, 2016.

    Article: New Koch by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, January 25, 2016.

    Article: Pregnant and behind bars: how the US prison system abuses mothers-to-be by Victoria Law, The Guardian, October 20, 2015.

    Article: American slavery, reinvented by Whitney Benns, The Atlantic, September 21, 2015.

    Article: Yes, prisoners used to sew lingerie for Victoria's Secret - just like in 'Orange is the New Black' season 3 by Emily Yahr, The Washington Post, June 17, 2015.

    Report: Treatment industrial complex: How for-profit prison corporations are undermining efforts to treat and rehabilitate prisoners for corporate gain by Caroline Isaacs, Grassroots Leadership, November 2014.

    Report: The prison indistries Enhancement Certification Program: A program history by Barbara Auerbach, National CIA, May 4, 2012.

    Article: The hidden history of ALEC and prison labor by Mike Elk and Bob Sloan, The Nation, August 1, 2011.

    Article: Slave labor - money trail leads to Koch brothers and conservatives who want your job! by Bob Sloan, Daily Kos, February 21, 2011.

    Article: The Legacy by Gabriel Sherman, New York Magazine, July 12, 2009.

    Hearing: Federal Prison Industries, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, C-SPAN, July 1, 2005.

    Article: Democratic donor receives two-year prison sentence by Ronald Smothers, The New York Times, March 5, 2005.

    Sound Clip Sources Discussion: Criminal Justice Reform and Senate Vote on First Step Act, C-SPAN, December 19, 2018.

    Speakers: - Mike Allen, Founder and Executive Editor of Axios - Mark Holden, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Koch Industries - Senator Amy Klobuchar

    Sound Clips:

    22:27 Mike Allen: So, I have on NPR, “Koch-Backed Criminal Justice Reform to Reach Senate.” To some people, at least at first blush, there’s an incongruity to that. Tell us how Koch Industries got involved in this issue. Mark Holden: Yeah, well, I mean, Charles Koch and David Koch have been very focused on these issues forever, literally. They were early funders of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Institute for Justice, a lot of different groups. And from Charles’s perspective, the war on drugs, it’s been a failure. It doesn’t mean that you—there aren’t—it was in a criminal element within the war on drugs, but there are a lot of people in the war on drugs who don’t need to be incarcerated for so long. And so we’ve been very much in favor of proportional sentencing. You know, punishment must fit the crime. You break the law, you should pay a price, and then once you pay that price, you should be welcomed back into society, with all your rights. All your rights come back. That’s why we supported Amendment 4 down in Florida, the voting restoration rights for people with felonies in Florida. We don’t think it makes sense for people not to be able to participate once they’ve paid their debt to society. And for us, for Charles in particular, this is all about breaking barriers to opportunity.

    24:10 Mark Holden: And last night, 87 to 12, that’s a curb stomping. And I will note, as a Patriots fan, Gronk is 87 and Brady’s 12, right? I mean, yeah. Something there.

    49:00 Mike Allen: Watching last night, and the conversations today, it was clear there was a real sense of history, a sense of occasion on the Senate floor last night. Take us there. Tell us what that was like. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN): Well, we haven’t had a lot of joyous moments in the Senate this year. Big-surprise-news item I gave you. And this was one of those because I think for one thing we’re coming to the end of the year. We were able to get some really important things done: the farm bill; the sex harassment bill that I led with Senator Blunt that had been really difficult to negotiate for the last year; and then of course the budget, which we hope to get done in the next two days; and then we’ve got this. And this was something that has been explained. It was five years in the making. It took people out of their comfort zones. You had people on both sides that never thought they’d be talking about reducing drug sentences. So in that way, it was kind of this Christmas miracle that people came together. But the second piece of it was just that we knew they were these bad amendments that you’ve heard about. Some of them we felt were maybe designed to put us in a bad place, only because politically the bill protected us from a lot of the things that were in the amendments. So what was the best part of the night for me was that it wasn’t Democrats fighting against Tom Cotton and these amendments; it was Chuck Grassley, in his festive-red holiday sweater, who went up there with that Iowa accent that maybe only I can understand, being from Minnesota, and was able to really effectively fight them down. And the second thing was just the final vote—I mean, we don’t get that many votes for a volleyball resolution—and that we had that strong of support for the reform was also really exciting.

    Senate Session: Senate floor First Step Act Debate and Vote, C-SPAN, December 18, 2018. Podcast: Wrongful Conviction Podcast: Kim Kardashian and Jason Flom join forces to advocate for Criminal Justice Reform and Clemency, September 5, 2018. Netflix Episode: Orange is the New Black, Season 3 Episode 5, Fake it Till You Make It Some More, June 11, 2015. Netflix Episode: Orange is the New Black, Season 3 Episode 6, Ching Chong, Chang, June 11, 2015. Video Clip: Whitney Houston 'Crack is Whack' Clip from 2002 Diane Sawyer Interview on ABC News, YouTube, February 11, 2012. Hearing: Federal Prison Industries, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, C-SPAN, July 1, 2005.

    Witnesses: - Phillip Glover - American Federation of Government Employees Prison Locals Council - President - Paul Miller - Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Association

    Sound Clips:

    1:32 Former Representative Howard Coble: Prisoners who are physically able to work must labor in some capacity five days a week. FPI is a government corporation that operates the BOP’s correctional program and employs inmates of the federal prison population to manufacture goods for and provides services to federal agencies. About 20% of the inmates work in Federal Prison Industries’, FPI, factories. They generally work in factory operations such as metals, furniture, electronics, textiles, and graphic arts. FPI work assignments pay from $0.23 to $1.15 per hour.

    6:19 Representative Bobby Scott (VA): FPI can only sell its products and services to federal agencies. The program was established in the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, as a way to teach prisoners real work habits and skills so that when they are released from prison they’ll be able to find and hold jobs to support themselves and their families and be less likely to commit more crimes. It is clear that the program works to do just that. Followup studies covering as much as 16 years of data have shown that inmates who participate in Prison Industries are 14% more likely to be employed and 24% less likely to commit crimes than like prisoners who do not participate in the program.

    1:39:58 Former Representative Pieter Hoekstra, current Ambassador to the Netherlands: Mandatory source was great for Federal Prison Industries during the 1990s and 2001 and 2002. But you know what? I think it was wrong that Federal Prison Industries was the fastest and probably the only growing office-furniture company in America during that time. As the industry was going through significant layoffs, Federal Prison Industries was growing by double digits each and every year.

    1:46:40 Philip Glover: If you have someone serving at USP, Leavenworth, for instance, and they’re in for 45 years or 50 years, you can educate them, you can vo-tech them, but to keep them productive and occupied on a daily basis and feel like they have a little bit of worth, this program seems to do that. That’s where, at least as a correctional officer, that’s where I come from on this program is that it gives the inmate a sense of worth, and every day he goes down and does something productive.

    Resources

    About Page: Americans for Prosperity

    American Addiction Centers: Crack Cocaine & Cocaine: What's the Difference?

    Annual Report: The GEO Group, Inc. 2017 Annual Report

    Lobbying Report: Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (Section 5)

    Media Statement: Statement from CoreCivic President and CEO Damon Hininger on the First Step Act

    OpenSecrets: Americans for Prosperity

    OpenSecrets: CoreCivic Inc. Lobbyists

    OpenSecrets: CoreCivic Inc Profile for 2018 Election Cycle

    OpenSecrets: GEO Group Lobbyists

    OpenSecrets: GEO Group Profile for 2018 Election Cycle

    OpenSecrets: Outside Spending of Political Nonprofits

    OpenSecrets: Trump 2017 Inauguration Donors

    Product Page: Pride Enterprises

    Ranker.com: 50 American Companies That Have Ties to Modern Slavery

    SPLC: Criminal Justice Reform

    Visual Resources Community Suggestions

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • We've transitioned! The 115th Congress is finally over and the 116th has begun. In this episode, get the details on the last acts of the 115th Congress, including the play by play of the shutdown drama, and learn about the new rules written by Democrats that will govern the 116th House of Representatives.

    Please Support Congressional Dish - Quick Links

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    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD186: National Endowment for Democracy House Rules 116th Congress House Rules Resolution

    Sec. 102(b): Gives delegates and resident commissioners (the representatives of D.C. and the territories) the ability to vote in Congress, but only if they are not casting the deciding vote. If they are the deciding votes, the vote will be re-taken.

    Sec. 102(f): Renames the following committees

    “Committee on Oversight and Government Reform” will be the “Committee on Oversight and Reform” “Committee on Education and the Workforce” will be the “Committee on Education and Labor”

    Sec. 102(i): The chairmen of the oversight committees need to create and submit their oversight plans to the Committee on Oversight and Reform by March 1, 2019, and then coordinate those plans with other committees for submission to the full House by April 15, 2019.

    Sec. 102(m): Removes the term limit of four out of six consecutive Congresses for members of the Committee on the Budget and removes the term limit for Chairmen of any committee barring them from serving as Chairman for more than three consecutive Congresses.

    Sec. 102(n): Changes the 3 day rule for mark-up notices to clarify that it means 3 calendar days excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.

    Sec. 102(q): Criminal trial evidence and transcripts will be used as evidence in House ethics investigations

    Sec. 102(r): Between March 1 of the first year and September 30 of the second year of the Congress, the sponsor of a bill with 290 co-sponsors can put their bill on the calendar where it will remain until it is either reported by committee or voted on in the full House.

    Sec. 102(z): Text of bills must be available for "72 hours”

    Sec. 102(dd): Removes the requirement for a supermajority vote to increase taxes

    Sec. 102(ee): PAYGO procedures for the 116th

    Sec. 101(ii): Starting on January 1, 2020, members of the House of Representatives will not be allowed to “serve as an officer or director of any public company”

    Sec. 102(jj): A suspension of the debt ceiling will be automatically included and passed along with the budget resolution.

    Sec. 103(d): Registered lobbyists will not be granted access to the Congressional gym

    Sec. 103(h): Limited the Committee on Agriculture to six subcommittees and the Committee on Financial Services to seven subcommittees

    Sec. 103(i): No bill can get a vote on the House floor unless it has been passed by a committee. Excepts include continuing resolutions and emergency bills.

    Sec. 103(r): Requires members of the House to pay for discrimination settlements for offenses they personally committed

    Sec. 104(a): Creates a commission called the House Democracy Partnership, which will be funded with $52,000 available between January 3, 2019 and March 31, 2019. The commission will be managed but the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    Sec. 104(d): Creates an Office of Diversity and Inclusion

    Sec. 104(e): Creates an Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman

    Sec. 104(f): Creates a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which will have 15 members, 6 appointed by the Minority Leader, and which will have no power to create or change legislation and will not have subpoena power. “The sole authority of the Select Committee shall be to investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.”

    Sec. 201: Creates a Committee on the Modernization of Congress

    Sec. 301: Authorizes the Speaker of the House to use the General Counsel of the House of Representatives to defend the Affordable Are Act in Federal court.

    Bills/Laws S.2736 (115th): Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 Law Text Became law on New Year's Eve 2018 H.R.695 - Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018 Law Text S.2322 - CURD Act Law Text Final Vote Results: 230-162 H.R.6061 - Secure Fence Act of 2006 Vote Summary Public Law 109-13 - Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 Additional Reading

    Tweet: Eric Blake on the Government Shutdown, Jan 9, 2019.

    Article: FDA says most food inspections halted amid shutdown by Eminy Birnbaum, The Hill, January 9, 2019.

    Article: White House to put Medicare cuts on hold during shutdown by Paul M. Krawszak, Roll Call, January 8, 2019.

    Article: Over 100 affordable housing contracts expire due to shutdown by John Bowden, The Hill, January 8, 2019.

    Article: Indian Health Service urban programs threatened by government shutdown by Susannah Luthi, Modern Healthcare, January 7, 2019.

    Article: House Democrats pass government funding bills, Pelosi jokes she'd give Trump $1 for a wall by Lindsey McPherson, Roll Call, January 2, 2019.

    Report: New house rules for Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner, Puerto Rico Report, January 2, 2019.

    Tweet: House Rules tweet to Rachel Maddow segment on CURD Act, December 21, 2018.

    Article: Republicans are preventing their tax bill from triggering a $25 billion cut to Medicare by Tara Golshan, Vox, December 21, 2017.

    Report: Southwest border security: Additional actions needed to better assess fencing's ontributions to operations and provide guidance for identifying capability gaps, U.S. Government Accountability Office, February 16, 2017.

    Article: Border wall breached 9,000 times. Does it even work? by Scott Bronstein, Curt Devin and Drew Griffin, CNN Politics, February 16, 2017.

    Report: Barriers along the U.S. borders: Key authorities and requirements by Michael John Garcia, Congressional Research Service, January 27, 2017.

    Article: Trump says they were going to build a wall in '06, but environmental rules got in the way by Miriam Valverde, Politifact, August 29, 2016.

    Article: Border-fence project hits a snag by Stephanie Simon, The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2009.

    Article: Government issues waiver for fencing along border by Randal C. Archibold, The New York Times, April 2, 2008.

    Report: With Senate vote, Congress passes border fence bill by Jonathan Weisman, The Washington Post, September 30, 2006.

    Sound Clip Sources Video: Call Your Representative and Tell Them to Vote Against PAYGO NOW! The Majority Report with Sam Seder, YouTube, January 8, 2019.

    Rep. Ro Khanna: “People hear the word PAYGO, they tune out. They think it’s some inside baseball technical jargon related to Congress. Let me tell you: It is a very important issue. It would be unilateral disarmament for House Democrats to adopt PAYGO. The Republicans never did. They passed massive tax cuts for the 1% and they didn’t have any spending cuts to pay for those tax cuts. They never do.”

    Rep. Ro Khanna: "Now that House Democrats are in charge, some folks want us to limit our policies by adopting PAYGO. Here’s what it would mean: If we have PAYGO, then to do something like Medicare for All, to do something like expanding social security, to do something like a bold infrastructure plan or a Green New Deal would require us to negotiate against ourselves. We would require cuts in programs that many of us value and like. We shouldn’t do that. The Republicans didn’t govern that way.”

    Rep. Ro Khanna: “Paygo would be a terrible policy"

    House Session: Consideration of Rules for New Congress, Part 3, House of Representatives, January 3, 2019. Hearing: Rules Committee Hearing S. 2322, House of Representatives,YouTube, December 21, 2018. News Story: Rep. Jordan: We have to fund Trump's border wall now, Fox Business Network, December 18, 2018. Resources

    Congress.gov: Appropriations for FY 2019

    Congressional Record: December 21, 2018

    Obama White House Archives: The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010: A Description

    Roll Call: [A Congressional Glossary

    Continuing Resolution Emergency Spending Sequester

    Vote Results: Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017, December 20, 2018.

    Community Suggestions

    See Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • People in power tell us constantly that China is a threat but... Why? In this episode, we explore the big picture reasons why China poses a threat to those in power in the United States and what our Congress is doing to combat that threat. Spoiler alert: There's a another U.S. military build-up involved.

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    CD116: TPP - The Environment Chapter

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    Bills/Laws H.R. 5105: BUILD Act of 2018 Became law as a part of H.R. 302: FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 BUILD Act text from FAA law Purposes for which support may be provided The new bank “may designate private, nonprofit organizations as eligible to receive support… to promote development of economic freedom and private sectors” and “to complement the work of the United States Agency for International Development and other donors to improve the overall business enabling environment, financing the creation and expansion of the private business sector.” Powers of the new development bank The bank “shall have such other powers as may be necessary and incident to carrying out the functions of the Corporation” S. 2736: Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 Sec. 101: Policy “Promotes American prosperity and economic interests by advancing economic growth and development of a rules-based Indo-Pacific economic community” Sec 102: Diplomatic Strategy To support the “Association of Southeast Asian Nations”, “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation”, and the “East Asia Summit” #1: Emphasize our commitment to “freedom of navigation under international law” #7 : "Develop and grow the economy through private sector partnerships between the United States and Indo-Pacific partners" #8: “To pursue multilateral and bilateral trade agreements … and build a network of partners in the Indo-Pacific committee to free markets” #9: To work with Indo-Pacific countries to pursue infrastructure projects and “to maintain unimpeded commerce, open sea lines or air ways, and communications” Sec. 201: Authorization of Appropriations Authorizes $1.5 billion for each fiscal year 2019 through 2023 to be divided among the State Dept., USAID, and the Defense Dept. Congressional Budget Office: The total authorization is almost $8.6 billion The money is allowed to be used for “foreign military financing and international military education and training programs” The money is allowed to be used “to help partner countries strengthen their democratic systems” The money is allowed to be used to “encourage responsible natural resource management in partner countries, which is closely associated with economic growth” Sec. 205: United States-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Sense of Congress expressing the value of “strategic economic initiatives, such as activities under the United States-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement and the United States-ASEAN Connect, which demonstrate a commitment to ASEAN and the ASEAN Economic Community and build upon economic relationships in the Indo-Pacific region." Sec. 209: Commitment to Taiwan “The President should conduct regular transfers of defense articles to Taiwan” Sec 213 Freedom of Navigation and Overflight; Promotion of International Law “It is the sense of Congress that the President should develop a diplomatic strategy that includes working with United States allies and partners to conduct joint maritime training and freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific region, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea, in support of a rules-based international system benefitting all countries.” Sec. 215: Cybersecurity Cooperation Authorizes $100 million for each year (2019-2023) to “enhance cooperation between the United States and Indo-Pacific nations for the purposes of combatting cybersecurity threats.” Sec. 301: Findings; Sense of Congress Free trade agreements between the United States and three nations in the Indo-Pacific region have entered into force: Australia, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea According to the National Security Strategy, the United States will “work with partners to build a network of stated dedicated to free markets and protected from forces that would subvert their sovereignty.” Sec. 304: Trade Capacity Building and Trade Facilitation (a) “The President is encouraged to produce a robust and comprehensive trade capacity building and trade facilitation strategy, including leveling the playing field for American companies competing in the Indo-Pacific region.” Authorization of Appropriations:“There are authorized to be appropriated such amounts as many be necessaryto carry out subsection (a)." Sec. 305: Intellectual Property Protection The President “should” take “all appropriate action to deter and punish commercial cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property” and orders a report on the government’s efforts to do so. Authorization of Appropriations: “There are authorized to be appropriated to the United States Trade Representative such amounts as may be necessary to sponsor bilateral and multilateral activities designed to build capacity in the identified priority areas” in the report Sec. 306: Energy Programs and Initiatives Orders the President to create a strategy, updated every 5 years, to “encourage” Indo-Pacific countries to “implement national power strategies and cooperation with United States energy companies and the Department of Energy national laboratories” Authorization of Appropriations: $1 million per year from 2019 through 2023 Sense of Congress: “the United States should explore opportunities to partner with the private sector and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to promote universal access to reliable electricity in the Indo-Pacific region, including Myanmar (Burma)" Sec. 409: Authorization of Appropriations $210 million each year (2019-2023) to “promote democracy” and the money can be given to “universities, civil society, and multilateral institutions that are focusing on education awareness, training, and capacity building.” This money can be spent to “promote democracy” in China. Sec. 411: Young Leaders People-to-People Initiatives Authorizes $25 million per year (2019-2023) to support the “Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the ASEAN Youth Volunteers program, and other people-to-people exchange programs that focus on building the capacity of democracy, human rights, and good governance activities in the Indo-Pacific region.” Sec. 412: Savings Program “Nothing in this Act may be construed as authorizing the use of military force.” HR 5515: John S. McCain National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2019 Sec. 1252 Amends the NDAA for 2016, which authorized the South China Sea Initiative providing military equipment and training to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, to change the name of the program to the “Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative” and expands the authorization to include the Indian Ocean in addition to the South China Sea and the countries of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Adds India to the list of countries allowed to be paid for expenses, along with Brunei, Singapore, and Taiwan. Extends the expiration date from September 30, 2020 to December 31, 2025. Sec. 1253 Changes the name of the military build-up authorized in NDAA 2018 from the “Indo-Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative” to the “Indo-Pacific Stability Initiative”. Changes the activities authorized to include an increase in “rotational and forward presence” of the US Armed Forces and adds the prepositioning of “munitions” in addition to equipment. Expands the options for funding by removing the requirement that funding come “only” from a section 1001 transfer authority. Requires a 5 year plan be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense by March 1, 2019. Public Law 115-91: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 Sec 1251 Authorized the “Indo-Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative” to “increase the presence and capabilities” of the United States Armed Forces in the region by building new infrastructure, “enhance the storage and pre-positioning in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region of equipment of the United States Forces”, and with military training and exercises with allies. Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, June 14, 2018. Transcript Watch on YouTube

    Witnesses:

    Carl Gershman - National Endowment for Democracy: President Daniel Twining - International Republican Institute: President Kenneth Wollack - National Democratic Institute: President

    Timestamps & Transcripts

    1:43:38 Representative Michael McCaul (TX): I had a briefing yesterday in a classified setting on ZTE and Huawei, and their efforts to conduct espionage in this country. I’ve also seen them in Sri Lanka where they have burdened them with so much debt that they had to turn over a strategic port to the Chinese. We see the Chinese now in Djibouti for the first time, and we see them leveraging the continent of Africa into so much debt that they will be able to eventually take over these countries. They exploit them. They bring in their own workers—they don’t even hire the host countries’ workers—and they export their natural resources in what is this One Belt, One Road policy.

    1:45:00 Carl Gershman: In March, The Economist magazine had a cover story on China, and the bottom line of the cover story was—and this is a direct quote—‘‘The West’s 25-year bet on China has failed.’’ The bet was that if China was brought into the World Trade Organization, was encouraged to grow economically, it would become a more liberal society and be part of the liberal world order.

    1:46:26 Carl Gershman: It’s a problem with the Belt and Road Initiative, which is not just an economic expansion. This is intimately tied to China’s geopolitical and military strategy precisely to get strategic ports in Sri Lanka or in Maldives because countries fall into the debt trap and pay back by leasing their ports.

    1:58:05 Representative Ted Yoho (FL): They’re a form of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and, as we all know, that’s communism. Our form of government empowers the people. Empowered people reach their full potential. China empowers the government where the people are suppressed for the benefit of the government.

    2:00:10 Daniel Twining: It’s the surveillance architecture. This Orwellian total surveillance state they’re building with artificial intelligence and facial recognition and all this stuff. It’s very attractive, as you say, not to people but to leaders.

    2:07:52 Representative Ted Poe (TX): Globally, what do you personally see is the number-one entity that is a threat to democracy worldwide? Is it China? Is it Russia? Is it North Korea? Is it ISIS? Is it Iran? Pick one. Pick the one you think is the threat. Carl Gershman: China. Rep. Poe: China. Gershman: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Twining. Daniel Twining: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Wollack. Kenneth Wollack: Russia. Rep. Poe: Russia. Russia and China.

    Hearing: The China Challenge, Part 1: Economic Coercion as Statecraft, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, July 24, 2018.

    Witnesses:

    Dan Blumenthal: Director of Asian Studies and Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

    Ely Ratner: Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security

    Timestamps and Transcripts

    33:49 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): This hearing will be the first hearing in a three-part series of hearings titled The China Challenge and will examine how the United States should respond to the challenge of a rising China that seeks to upend and supplant the U.S.-led liberal world order.

    34:12 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): According to the National Security Strategy, for decades U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others. According to the National Defense Strategy, the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model: gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.

    35:28 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): The question before us now is identifying the tools the United States has at its disposal to counter the disturbing developments posed by China’s less-than-peaceful rise. This is why Senator Markey and I and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the Senate joined in introducing the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, or ARIA, on April 24. The legislation sets a comprehensive policy framework to demonstrate U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and the rules-based international order. ARIA provides a comprehensive set of national security and economic policies to advance U.S. interests and goals in the Indo-Pacific region, including providing substantive U.S. resource commitments for these goals. I’m joined in this legislation on the committee by Senator Kaine, Senator Coons, Senator Cardin, Senator Markey, by Senator Rubio, and Senator Young, as well as Senators Sullivan and Perdue and Graham.

    38:12 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Our first witness is Senator—is Dan Blumenthal—I almost gave you a demotion there, Dan—who serves as director of Asian studies and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Blumenthal has both served in and advised the U.S. government on China issues for nearly two decades. From 2001 to 2004 he served as senior director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the Department of Defense. Additionally, from 2006, 2012 he served as a commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, including holding the position of vice chair in 2007.

    38:54 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Our second witness today is Ely Ratner, who serves as the vice president and director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security. Mr. Ratner served from 2015 to 2017 as the deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and from 2011 to 2012 in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the State Department. He also previously worked in the U.S. Senate as a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in the office of Senator Joe Biden.

    42:01 Dan Blumenthal: I have to state that the era of reform and opening in China is over. It’s been long over. It’s been over, probably for 10 years. And China is back to being run by state-owned enterprises that are related to the party. The private sector is diminishing. That provides the Chinese state with a lot more control over economic coercive policies.

    49:27 Ely Ratner: First, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should hold hearings on the cost and benefits of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Rejoining TPP is among the most important things we can do to advance our economic position in Asia and erode the effectiveness of China’s economic coercion. By contrast, U.S. withdrawal has done substantial damage to our standing in the region and is facilitating the development of a Chinese sphere of influence in Asia and beyond. Rejoining TPP would renew confidence in the credibility and commitment of the United States, help to re-route supply chains in the region, open new markets for U.S. companies, and ultimately reduce China’s economic leverage.

    56:28 Senator Ed Markey (MA): And through its Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, China is burdening countries receiving infrastructure loans with debts so extreme that they begin to undermine their own very sovereignty. According to a recent New York Times report, this Belt and Road Initiative amounts to a debt trap for vulnerable countries around the world, fueling corruption and autocratic behavior in struggling democracies.

    59:30 Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Mr. Blumenthal, you mentioned in your opening statement, you talked about the economic opening in China being over. Could you go into a little bit more detail of what you mean by that? Dan Blumenthal: So, the period of reform and opening, which Deng Xiaoping began in 1978 and allowed for the great growth of China, the great growth of the private sector, private-sector entrepreneurs and brought so many Chinese out of poverty and benefitted the world, ended, probably 10 years ago, the Chinese we now know. The Chinese have gone back to the state sector dominating, taking out room for entrepreneurs to grow. They’ve gone back to things like price controls. They’ve gone back to things like lending on the basis of non-market, non-profitable lending but rather through patronage from the party to state-owned enterprises. They certainly haven’t moved any further than they were 10, 12 years ago on market access, things that we’ve been pressing for. They haven’t stopped subsidizing. In fact, they’ve doubled down on subsidizing their state-owned enterprises, which is probably the single biggest cause of probably the WTO stalling as much as it has. And Xi Jinping is certainly not taking China down the road of another round of market reforms—quite the contrary. He’s a statist and favoring state-owned enterprises and the subsidization of state-owned enterprises over the private sector.

    1:11:42 Ely Ratner: China is going to use its economic clout to try to achieve its geopolitical aims, which include dividing American alliances and eroding the influence of the United States in the region. So I think that was a very important episode. It was very revealing. I think we can talk about trying to incorporate China into a rules-based order. I don’t think that’s where we’re going to be in the next several years. I think what we have to do is pull up our socks, get more competitive, slow down Chinese momentum in its efforts to develop this sphere of influence. That’s a much more urgent task than a long-term goal of developing a rules-based order.

    1:13:44 Senator Todd Young (IN): Mr. Ratner, thanks for your testimony. As I reviewed your written statement, you seem to be making a pretty simple argument with very serious implications. In short, you seem to be saying we’re in a high-stakes competition with China, that China does not accept this rules-based international order we had hoped to welcome them into back in 2000. The legitimacy of that order and the institutions that were stood up to oversee that order are not respected by China. China, instead, respects power. And we as a nation have insufficient leverage, it seems, to be able to affect the sort of change we want with respect to intellectual-property theft, joint-licensing requirements, dumping, and so many other things. What we lack—and this is language you employed—is a comprehensive strategy. Is that a fair summary of your viewpoint, Mr. Ratner? Ely Ratner: Yes, sir.

    1:21:05 Ely Ratner: When it looked like the United States was going to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that agreement was going to pass, the Chinese were starting to ask questions quietly at senior levels, with American officials about what they would need to do down the road to improve their practices to join that agreement, and obviously, those conversations are no longer happening today.

    1:22:30 Senator Jeff Merkley (OR): Mr. Ratner, under WTO, is China allowed to offer subsidies to its businesses? Ely Ratner: Senator, I’m not a trade lawyer, so I can’t get into the weeds of WTO law, but I think the answer is no, and there’re several other dimensions in which they’re not in compliance with the agreement. Sen. Merkley: Under the WTO, China is required to do an annual report of all of its subsidies to different enterprises. Does it do that report? Ratner: I believe not, Senator. Sen. Merkley: So, when it fails to do the report, we are, under the WTO, allowed to do a report on their subsidies. I did an amendment a few years ago that said if China doesn’t produce a report, our trade representative will be directed to produce our report. And before that amendment, the ink could dry on it, our trade rep under President Obama produced a list of 200 Chinese subsidies, subsidies we’re well aware of but rarely kind of articulated. So that’s—so we certainly have an understanding of massive Chinese subsidies that are not allowed under WTO. How about to offer loans at non-market rates? Ratner: I believe not, sir. Sen. Merkley: Or to provide land for free as a form of subsidy? Ratner: I think that’s right, as well as forced technology transfer and a number of other practices. Sen. Merkley: And how about being required—for our companies to be required to locate in a particular part of China where the infrastructure is inferior to other locations? Ratner: Correct. Sen. Merkley: A couple years ago, when I was a part of a delegation to China, we were at a meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in which many of these practices were highlighted, but one company in particular stood up and said, and I won’t name the exact company because they probably didn’t want it too much publicized at the time, but they said they were basically told, we have to put our manufacturing center in this far-western city, far from the port infrastructure; we are told we cannot build any size of item that is in direct competition with the Chinese items; they were told they only could build larger versions that the Chinese weren’t yet building, or they would be shut down and shut out of the country. Is that type of activity by the Chinese legal under the WTO? Ratner: No, sir. Sen. Merkley: And what about requiring American companies to do joint-venture arrangements in order to be able to locate in China? Ratner: Also, not part of the agreement. Sen. Merkley: So, and you’re familiar with how these joint-venture agreements are often used as a way to drain U.S. technology? Ratner: Yes, sir. Sen. Merkley: So, what does one say to the American citizen who says, “China is violating all of these rules, and the WTO has no mechanism by which we appear to be able to hold them accountable. Why shouldn’t we work intensely to create an ability to hold China accountable to the structure of the WTO?” Ratner: I think that was the intention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    1:45:22 Senator Cory Gardner (CO): In recent writings in the Wall Street Journal, quotes from President Xi, China has its own ideas about how the world should be run, and as he put it, “to lead in the reform of global governance.” Another quote, or another statement, “in at least eight African countries, as well as some in Southeast Asia, Chinese officials are training their counterparts in how to manage political stability through propaganda and how to control media and the Internet,” and that the China model provides “a new option for other countries who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.” And finally this: China has committed to train 10,000 political elites in Latin America by 2020. All of this speaks to the need for what you have described, Mr. Ratner, what you have described, Mr. Blumenthal, is U.S. leadership and U.S. response, whether it’s the BUILD Act, whether it’s legislation that Senator Young has described, the legislation that we have co-sponsored together—the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act. This is a time for U.S. leadership, and it’s a time to stand boldly for our values that have empowered the world to be a better place, that has lifted up hundreds of millions of people around the globe up and out of poverty through a system of rules and standards that don’t favor one country over another but that give people a chance to participate in global governance and that global rise.

    Hearing: The China Challenge, Part 2: Security and Military Developments, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, Septemer 5, 2018.

    Witnesses:

    Dr. Oriana Skylar Mastro: American Enterprise Institute

    Abraham Denmark: Director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

    Timestamps and Transcripts

    27:50 Chairman Cory Gardner (CO): Our first witness is Dr. Oriana Skylar Mastro, who is the Jeane Kirkpatrick visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where she focuses on Chinese military and security policy in the Asia Pacific. She is also assistant professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and serves in the United States Air Force Reserve as a political-military affairs strategist at Pacific air forces. Previously, Dr. Mastro was a fellow in the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security.

    28:25 Chairman Cory Gardner (CO): Also joined on the panel by Abraham Denmark, who is director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, Mr. Denmark served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, where he supported the secretary of defense and other U.S. senior government leaders in the formulation and implementation of national security strategies and defense policies toward the region. Mr. Denmark also previously worked as senior vice president for political and security affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and held several positions in the U.S. intelligence community.

    42:40 Oriana Skylar Mastro: What China is doing is they’re exploiting gaps in the order. So, we talk about the U.S.-led international order and whether China is challenging it or not. But in reality, there’s many areas of the order that lacks certainty, or ambiguous, don’t have consensus. So I would label cybersecurity as one of these areas. And so what China does is it’s trying to build consensus or work on the periphery of the order. So, for example, when they did One Belt, One Road, and they initially moved to the central Asia, they weren’t challenging the United States, because the United States was not there. And so I would say that in addition to strengthening our relationship with traditional partners and allies, the United States needs to think more broadly about its relationships with countries around the globe. Also, in terms of the security initiative, I would recommend that we think more about demand not supply, in kind of business terms. You often, at least in my experience, you think about what the United States has to offer in terms of security assistance, and then we try to put together packages, whether it’s visits, port visits, or a rotation of a squadron or what have you, instead of looking at what those countries actually demand. And so we should move away from this model of increasing advertising and hoping that countries around the world will decide they want what we have to offer, and instead try to look at what they actually want and start supplying that.

    1:05:45 Senator Ed Markey (MA): Should the United States abandon the rules-based international system, and what would the concessions be that we would try to extract in order to take such a step? Dr. Mastro. Oriana Skylar Mastro: So, sir, I don’t think we should abandon it. Instead, what I’m arguing for is an expansion of that system. I think that actually the international, is very limited. If you look at the definition, the party to that order, the amount of countries that actually might be involved in certain treaties, it’s not every country possible. For example, India has very different views on things like cybersecurity than the United States does. And so I think if we could manage to build consensus in these areas of uncertainty, we could actually shape China’s choices. And to that end, that gives the United States a lot of political power because the bottom line is one of the main differences between today and maybe 10 years ago is for the United States, the security benefits that we give to our partners, allies, in the region are no longer enough to outweigh the economic benefits that they get from interacting with China. And so we need a security-benefits-plus type of strategy in which we think also about the economic benefits, which is difficult under the current administration, given the trade policy, but also those political benefits by building new international institutions and building new norms and consensus around areas where that consensus has failed to date.

    1:07:08 Chairman Cory Gardner (CO): Going back to the question I started to talk about, just the investments that China has made in South America, the investments China is making in Central America. If you look at investments in Panama, El Salvador, and at least apparently in El Salvador, as perhaps part of an agreement as it relates to the decision El Salvador made on Taiwan. Look at the sale of submarines to countries—Thailand—do we see that as continued opportunity for China’s military expansion? Will we see military basing affecting U.S. operations in Thailand? Will we see, perhaps, an opportunity for military entrance into Central America, into South America, China, basing, even, perhaps? Mr. Denmark. Abraham Denmark: Well, I think there’s a lot that remains to be seen. I don’t think there’s a definitive yes or no answer to that question, but I do expect that Djibouti be the first overseas base that China has established. I fully expect that that will not be the last. Where additional facilities may pop up remains to be seen. I personally would expect more facilities to be established along the trade routes from the Western Pacific, through the Indian Ocean, into the Middle East. I would expect to see more there than before I’d expect to see them in Latin America, primarily because of China’s economic interests, but it remains to be seen.

    1:20:00 Senator Ed Markey (MA): In September of 2013, China began a concerted effort to build artificial islands in the South China Sea by crushing coral reefs into sand. It built land features where none previously existed. On top of that, China expanded small outposts into military bases capable of conducting operations. Admiral Philip Davidson, the commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, stated this year that China’s militarization of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea means “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios, short of a war with the United States.” Ms. Mastro, what considerations or challenges do these bases pose for other claimants and the United States in peacetime, in the gray zone, or in conflict? In other words, what are the implications of China’s military bases in the South China Sea? Oriana Skylar Mastro: So, militarily, sir, they expand the range of Chinese capabilities. And so I think I made the point previously that it’s difficult for us to conceive of fighting a war with China using our bases in Korea and Japan, and that’s primarily because of the range of conventional precision-guided munitions that China has that can reach those bases and render them inoperable. In the South China Sea, which is about the size of the United States, China’s power-projection capabilities historically have been quite limited. And in the report, for example, one thing that was highlighted was the H-6K, when it has ______(01:37), now China can extend its range to 3,300 kilometers. But if you actually have bases there, coupled with carriers, then China’s able to sustain combat sorties, for example, for longer periods of time and at farther ranges than it was before. And this is what allows it to be able to control, as the quote suggested, large areas of the South China Sea, the air, and the sea. I would just mention on the gray-zone side, that China can engage in gray-zone activities only because the United States allows it to. There’s nothing that, as far as I understand it, there’s nothing that tells us that, for example, if China says, “Well, this is a Coast Guard,” that we can’t respond with the use of the U.S. Navy. We are too concerned about escalation, and China knows this. They don’t believe in miscalculation and in inadvertent escalation, and so they use this to their advantage. And we should start being very clear about what our redlines are and, obviously, being then able to follow through with that.

    1:42:30 Senator Ed Markey (MA): I just have one final area of questioning, if I may, and that just goes back to the Belt and Road Initiative which has resulted in a very generous policy by China of loaning money to countries, which they then can’t pay back, which then results in China being able to extract huge long-term concessions from those countries. Sri Lanka, just a perfect example where they’ve now had to give up a 99-year lease to the Chinese company, which is partially owned by the Chinese government, 15,000 acres of land. And now it appears there are more countries that are deciding to reconsider how far in debt they want their countries or companies to be to a Chinese entity. But at the same time, President Xi, just in the last few days has announced a new $60 billion program—grants, loans—around the world, on top of the $60 billion program that they’ve had in the past that now has these consequences. So, what are the implications for the United States, for global security, of these Chinese strategies in country after country to gain access, or control over, ports in countries? And what would you recommend to the United States that we do to try to make sure that we minimize the ability of this Belt and Road program to build economic and security relationships with companies in a way almost giving them offers they can’t refuse so they become deeper indebted and more entangled into Chinese foreign policy objectives?

    1:48:09 Abraham Denmark: The initiative announced several weeks ago by Secretary of State Pompeo in this vein to enhance U.S. engagement, economic engagement, in these areas I thought was a good indication of seeing the problem and trying to address it, not trying to copy the Chinese system, but playing to American strengths of the free market and American corporations.

    Hearing: The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, December 4, 2018. Watch on C-SPAN

    Witnesses:

    Laura Stone: Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State Scott Busby: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Labor at the US Department of State Gloria Steele: Acting Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia at USAID

    Timestamps and Transcripts

    01:23:05 Senator Ed Markey (MA): Around the world, all countries, including the United States, rely on the rules-based international order to underpin security and prosperity to help provide a level playing field, to provide the maximum opportunity for the greatest number of people, and to defend and protect certain fundamental rights. So it is of the utmost importance that we do everything in our power to ensure that this system remains.

    01:30:00 Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Our first witness is Scott Busby, who serves as deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of the Human Right, Democracy, and Labor. Previously, he served as director for human rights on the National Security Council in the White House from 2009 to 2011, where he managed a wide range of human rights and refugee issues.

    01:36:20 Scott Busby: My bureau, DRL, is implementing $10 million of FY 2018 economic support funds to support human rights in China, just as we have done for the past several years. Nevertheless, such programs are increasingly challenged by the difficult operating environment in China, including the new and highly restrictive foreign NGO management law.

    1:59:58 Senator Marco Rubio (FL): And then you see sort of what the global reaction has been to it, and there’s reason to be concerned that this post-World War II, pro-democracy, pro-human rights, global norms are being eroded and reshaped and that China is using its geopolitical heft and its economic power to push it in that direction.

    Meeting: Press availability at the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings, August 4, 2018.

    Speaker: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

    Timestamps and Transcripts

    1:15 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "Throughout my ASEAN-centered engagements these past days I’ve conveyed President Trump’s commitment to this vital part of the world that continues to grow in importance. Security has been a major focus of our conversations. As part of our commitment to advancing regional security in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is excited to announce nearly $300 million in new funding to reinforce security cooperation throughout the entire region.”

    4:50 - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "As I said earlier this week, the United States practices partnership economics; we seek partnership, not dominance. Earlier this week at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted by the United States Chamber of Commerce, I outlined the Trump administration’s economic strategy for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, and I talked about why U.S. businesses’ engagement in the region is crucial to our mission of promoting peace, stability, and prosperity. There is no better force for prosperity in the world than American businesses. When nations partner with American firms, they can have confidence they are working with the most scrupulous, well-run, and transparent companies in the world. As a down payment on a new era in American economic commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, I announced at the forum $113 million in new U.S. Government resources to support foundational areas of the future: the digital economy, energy, and infrastructure. In addition, the Trump administration is working with Congress to encourage the passage of the BUILD Act. It recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now before the United States Senate. Under this bill, the government’s development finance capacity would more than double to $60 billion to support U.S. private investment in strategic opportunities abroad."

    Meeting: Beyond NAFTA and GATT, National Association Southern Center, April 20, 1994.

    Speaker: Arthur Dunkel - Director of the UN

    Wrote the “Dunkel Draft” in 1991, a 500 page general outline of what became the WTO 3 years later - it’s basically the WTO’s Constitution “Retired” from GATT in 1993, became a “trade consultant”, and served on the board of Nestle Is a registered WTO dispute panelist

    Transcript

    Arthur Dunkel: If I look back at the last 25 years, what did we have? We had two worlds: The so-called Market Economy world and the sadly planned world; the sadly planned world disappeared. One of the main challenges of the Uruguay round has been to create a world wide system. I think we have to think of that. Secondly, why a world wide system? Because, basically, I consider that if governments cooperate in trade policy field, you reduce the risks of tension - political tension and even worse than that."

    Additional Reading

    Article: Disney sets out international leadership team post-Fox deal by Stewart Clarke, Variety, December 13, 2018.

    Article: IMF delays Sri Lanka's loan discussion on political crisis, Reuters, November 20, 2018.

    Annual Report: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, USCC.gov, November 14, 2018.

    Article: Sri Lanka's political shake-up is a win for China by Bharath Gopalaswamy, Foreign Policy, October 29, 2018.

    Article: Sri Lanka to secure sixth tranche of $250 million IMF's EFF, Press Reader, Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) October 14, 2018.

    Article: The BUILD Act has passed: What's next? CSIS, October 12, 2018.

    Article: Power play: Addressing China's belt and road strategy by Daniel Kliman and Abigail Grace, CNAS, September 20, 2018.

    Article: Taiwan's monthly minimum wage to increase by 5% in 2019 by Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, September 6, 2018.

    Fact Sheet: U.S. security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, U.S. Department of State, August 4, 2018.

    Article: Treasury weakens donor disclosure requirements for some nonprofits by Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, July 18, 2018.

    Article: China is doing the same things to Sri Lanka that Great Britain did to China after the opium wars by Panos Mourdoukoutas, Forbes, June 28, 2018.

    Article: Chinese firm pays $584 million to secure 99-year lease of Sri Lanka port by Reuters, GCaptain, June 26, 2018.

    Article: How China go Sri Lanka to cough up a port by Maria Abi-Habib, The New York Times, June 25, 2018.

    Article: China's use of cercive economic measures by Peter Harrell, Elizabeth Rosenberg, and Edoardo Saravalle, CNAS, June 11, 2018.

    Article: China's military escalation by The Editorial Board, WSJ, June 4, 2018.

    Article: China owns US debt, but how much? by Investopedia, April 6, 2018.

    Article: China's military facilities in South China Sea 'almost ready' by Raul Dancel, The Straits Times, February 6, 2018.

    Report: China's economic rise: History, trends, challenges, and implications for the United States by Wayne M. Morrison, Congressional Research Service, February 5, 2018.

    Article: U.S. leadership needed in the Asia-Pacific by James W. Fatheree, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, November 17, 2017.

    Article: China's new island-building ship raises the stakes in South China Sea by Dan Southerland, Radio Free Asia, November 10, 2017.

    Report: Taiwan: Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, October 30, 2017.

    Article: Inside the fight for OPIC reauthorization by Adva Saldinger, devex, February 21, 2017.

    News Release: Charles A Kupchan and Ely Ratner join CFR as Senior Fellows, Council on Foreign Relations, February 15, 2017.

    News Report: PG&E receives maximum sentence for 2010 San Bruno explosion by Kate Larsen, ABC 7 News, January 26, 2017.

    Article: Lockheed Martin scores $395M DHS security operations center contract by Billy Mitchell, Fed Scoop, September 9, 2016.

    Article: Terror in Little Saigon by A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, November 3, 2015.

    Article: Taiwan multinationals serving a broader role by Molly Reiner, Taiwan Business TOPICS, October 28, 2015.

    Article: China's island factory by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, September 9, 2014.

    Article: Why was the Dalai Lama hanging out with the right-wing American Enterprise Institute? by David Rose, Vanity Fair, February 26, 2014.

    Article: The secret foreign donor behind the American Enterprise Institute by Eli Clifton, The Nation, June 25, 2013.

    Article: Inside the secretive dark-money organization that's keeping the lights on for conservative groups by Walt Hickey, Business Insider, February 12, 2013.

    Article: How Beijing won Sri Lanka's civil war, Independent, May 23, 2010.

    Article: The one-year review: Obama's Asia policies by Daniel Blumenthal, Foreign Policy, November 3, 2009.

    Article: Former high-ranking Bush officials enjoy war profits by Tim Shorrock, Salon, May 29, 2008.

    Report: ChoicePoint sold to LexisNexis parent, Atlanta Business Chronicle, February 21, 2008.

    Article: Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study by Ian Sample, The Guardian, February 2, 2007.

    Article: The man who said to much by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, September 3, 2006.

    Article: Put a tiger in your think tank, Mother Jones, May/June 2005

    Article: What I didn't find in Africa by Joseph C. Wilson, The New York Times, July 6, 2003.

    Article: Armitage is ready to step into ring by Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, February 14, 2001.

    Article: Advocacy and lobbying without fear: what is allowed within a 501(c)(3) charitable organization by Thomas Raffa, Nonprofit Quarterly, September 21, 2000.

    Resources

    About Page: The CNA Coporation

    About Page: Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP

    About Page: The National Bureau of Asian Research

    About Page: Oriana Skylar Mastro

    AEI Scholar List: Dan Blumenthal

    AEI Scholar List: Oriana Skylar Mastro

    Alexander Hamilton Society: Our Principles

    American Enterprise Institute: Annual Report 2017

    American Enterprise Institute: Board of Trustees

    American Enterprise Institute: Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellowship and Scholars Program

    American Enterprise Institute: Leadership

    American Enterprise Institute: Scholars

    Armitage International: Our Team

    Biography: Scott Busby, Deputy Asst. Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

    Cambridge University Press: Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise

    Center for New American Security: About CNAS

    Center for New American Security: Victoria Nuland, CEO

    CRS Report: U.S. Security Assistance and Security Cooperation Programs

    Center for Strategic & International Studies: Richard L. Armitage, Trustee

    Interactive Map: China Belt and Road Initiative

    IRS: Exemption Requirements - 501 (c)(3) Organizations

    LinkedIn Account: Oriana Skylar Mastro

    LinkedIn Account: Scott Busby

    LinkedIn Account: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

    Lockheed Martin: Board Members - Daniel F. Akerson

    OpenSecrets: American Enterprise Institute

    Park Hotels & Resorts: Board of Directors

    ManTech: Mission, Vision, and Values

    Report to Congress: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, November 2018

    Right Web: American Enterprise Institute

    Search Results: Paul | Weiss Professionals

    Security Cooperation Programs: Fiscal Year 2017 Handbook

    Special Emergency Authorities Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative

    SourceWatch: American Enterprise Institute

    Ties to the Koch Brothers

    SourceWatch Infographic: Donors Trust Infographic

    Tesla Investors: James Murdoch Biography

    Website: American Enterprise Institute

    Website: Chartwell Strategy Group

    Website: CNAS

    Website: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

    Website: Wilson Center

    Whitehouse Publication: National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017

    Wilson Center: Abraham Denmark

    Wilson Center: Corporate Council

    World Trade Organization: Overview and Future Direction, updated Nov 29, 2018

    Community Suggestions

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • The National Endowment for Democracy is a private foundation - that receives millions of our tax dollars - that pays groups to work to change the governments of other countries. In this episode, hear highlights from a hearing during which the president of this creepy organization and the presidents of two organizations that it funds - which are controlled entirely by members of the Republican and Democratic parties - will give you some insight into what kind of work they are doing manipulating information and interfering in elections in other countries around the world.

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    Main Hearing

    Hearing: Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, June 14, 2018.

    Full Hearing Transcript

    Watch on YouTube

    Witnesses:

    Carl Gershman: National Endowment for Democracy: President

    Daniel Twining: International Republican Institute: President

    Kenneth Wollack: National Democratic Institute: President

    Timestamps & Transcripts

    15:35 Representative Edward Royce (CA): At home, we must maintain the decades-old bipartisan consensus that democracy is a core element of U.S. foreign policy. That is why it’s important to have the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute here today, and that’s why it’s important that Congress continues to adequately fund these institutions.

    24:30 Representative Edward Royce (CA): I’m pleased to welcome our distinguished guests here on the panel, including Mr. Carl Gershman, who has served as president of the National Endowment for Democracy since its founding in 1984. He’s a long-time friend of this committee. He’s respected worldwide for his work, especially in his efforts to help peaceably end the Cold War and transition countries from behind the Iron Curtain to democracy, and he’s done this through nongovernmental action. Before his time at NED, he was the senior counselor to the United States representative to the United Nations, where he worked on international human rights issues. 25:21 Representative Edward Royce (CA): Mr. Daniel Twining is the president of the International Republican Institute, and previously he served as the counselor and director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He also worked here in Congress. He worked here as a foreign policy advisor to Senator John McCain. 25:45 Representative Edward Royce (CA): And we have Mr. Kenneth Wollack. He is president of the National Democratic Institute, and he has co-edited the Middle East Policy Survey and written regularly on foreign affairs for the Los Angeles Times. 27:26 Carl Gershman: I’d call your attention, for example, to some recent events, among them the remarkable democratic transition in Gambia; the fall of the corrupt Zuma government in South Africa; the stunning victory of democracy in Malaysia, and the freeing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim; the equally stunning triumph of democracy in Armenia; and the successful local elections in Tunisia that are, in my view, a decisive step forward in the Arab world’s first democracy. These are just a few of the examples that I could give of recent democratic advances. There is Slovakia, interesting developments in Ethiopia. Even in a country like Uzbekistan, we can see some glimmerings of some opening. 31:07 Carl Gershman: Other examples include the support that NED has given in Ukraine to the Anti-Corruption Action Center that has tirelessly led the campaign for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption court. And I’m pleased to report that just last week the Ukrainian parliament at long last approved legislation to create such a court. 37:25 Daniel Twining: In Europe, the Kremlin is deploying a sophisticated information-warfare campaign to undermine democratic institutions, erode citizen trust in democracy, and wedge apart the transatlantic alliance. This form of warfare is particularly insidious—this political warfare—because it uses core features of democracy against us—exploiting our free media, manipulating false information, undermining confidence in electoral systems. IRI’s Beacon Project is engaged in a big line of work to leverage our relationships for European political parties and civil-societies groups to track Russian misinformation, including in many local languages, and then to coordinate political responses to that. 31:46 Carl Gershman: The last example is the nonpartisan training conducted by four NGOs in Tunisia of new candidates who participated in last month’s local elections. Of the 235 individuals who were trained, 112 won seats, and 25 were at the heads of their electoral lists. 41:46 Kenneth Wollack: Authoritarian regimes are using digital tools to advance their interests, including electoral espionage and the dissemination of disinformation, to skew electoral outcomes, disrupt democratic discourse, discredit democratic institutions, and fuel ethnic and social divisions. NDI has responded by providing cybersecurity support; assisting efforts of civic, media, and political groups to detect, expose, and combat this information; and conducting new types of public-opinion research to identify populations that are most susceptible to Russian disinformation and develop messages that can build resilience. In cooperation with IRI and NED, NDI is helping to launch a new effort with democracy groups, civil-society organizations, civic-tech partners, political parties, and a global network of four million citizen election monitors to interact more regularly with the technology companies. 44:23 Kenneth Wollack: Ukrainians can point to concrete achievements in recent years. These include the emergence of new political parties that have national reach and are focused on citizens they represent rather than on oligarchs who would finance them. Brought together by NDI in partnership with the European Parliament, party factions in the Rada are overcoming deep fragmentation to agree on procedures that will make it easier to build consensus around reforms. In NDI programs alone, more than 45,000 citizens have engaged directly in the national reform process and reaching more than 1.3 million citizens through the media. 45:05 Kenneth Wollack: Another story of democratic resilience is unfolding in Syria. In northern Syria, citizen groups are prioritizing community needs, and local administrative councils are responding by providing critical services. Fifty NDI governance advisors are working each day in 34 locations to advise citizen groups and administrative councils, and bringing them together to solve problems. 49:19 Carl Gershman: But you’ve got to build a defense against it, and a lot of the groups that we helped stop fake news Ukraine and other groups like that are being able to identify fake information. We have a dialogue—a very ongoing dialogue—with the Internet companies to take down a lot of incitement, a lot of fake news. We’re connecting our grantees with the Internet companies. We have groups like Bellingcat, which is an investigative journalist group. They use open-source information. But they’ve identified the Russian general who provided the missile that shot down the Malaysian airliner. 51:30 Kenneth Wollack: But this a daily fight on the ground. Representative Edward Royce (CA): A social media fight? Wollack: Yes. To give you one example, the Democratic Party of Serbia, two weeks before the local elections, the Russians—presumably the Russians—had hacked their Facebook page, put horrible content on it. The hackers then contacted Facebook, told them to look at the site. Facebook immediately took down the Facebook page. Now, the party didn’t know who to contact. They had no contact with Facebook. They were able to contact us. Our office in Silicon Valley managed to reach the Facebook executives. They immediately took it down. 54:04 Representative Eliot Engel (NY): The budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 requested a $67 million for NED, which is a 60 percent cut from the amount which is $170 million that Congress has appropriated yearly since FY ’16. 54:59 Carl Gershman: I mean, there are, obviously, two fundamental problems with the OMB budget request for fiscal 2019: the amount and separating us from the four institutes. And both of these are devastating. I don’t even want to get into now what we would have to cut. They’re devastating—utterly devastating. It would virtually kill the whole program. 58:22 Daniel Twining: But in Malaysia, IRI’s been working with the opposition there since 2002. Malaysia was essentially a one-party majoritarian state. The ruling party had ruled since 1957. It had gerrymandered all the districts, given itself every advantage. But in this last election a month ago, the opposition won for the first time in 60-something years, and that was an example of playing the long game, right? We, the United States, supported a democratic opposition that is now in charge of this very strategic country right there on the front lines of the South China Sea, right there on the front lines of the Islamic world’s intersection with the rest of Asia, and that’s good for America. 1:09:12 Representative Gregory Meeks (NY): And Mr. Gershman, I’m a former board member at NED, so I’ve seen firsthand the work that you and your dedication and the bipartisan board of NED collectively working together to try to make sure that we have a better world for all of us. 1:12:20 Kenneth Wollack: Our engagement is not to spread falsehoods. It’s not to create fake news. It’s not to try to disrupt the process. It’s not to try to spur conflict in countries. What we’re trying to do is promote the principles, values, processes, and institutions that are enshrined in an intergovernmental organization. And our work is to try to help people engage in the political process. 1:16:34 Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA):... did we or did we not involve ourselves heavily to undermine the democratically elected government of Yanukovych in Ukraine? And what did it bring us? It brought us turmoil and conflict—that if we’d have waited and let that government be elected, because of its flaws unelected, we would not be in this situation today where the world is more likely to go into conflict because of that. I don’t believe the Russians would’ve invaded Ukraine had we not arrogantly involved ourselves to overthrow that democratically elected government in Ukraine. 1:18:39 Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA): So, I’ve had my say. I know I’m making everybody mad at me, but I had to say it. 1:25:59 Representative Brad Sherman (CA): And I want to turn our attention to Yerevan and Armenia. NED has allocated $1.3 million last year. Now we’ve seen a real move toward democracy. Are you going to do more, given the fluid situation there? Carl Gershman: Thank you very much for that question, Mr. Sherman. Yes. The answer is yes. Our board, which meets later this week, is making Armenia what we call a country eligible for contingency funds, which are funds set aside for new situations and, obviously, what’s happened in Armenia is very, very new. And we—I think there are several priorities that have to be addressed. There are going to be quick elections that have been called in Armenia, and those elections have to have integrity to them to give legitimacy to the current Pashinyan government. There is a parliament that oversees this, and government officials are really new to the governing game. The system has been controlled by a centralized authority for a number of years and so a lot of training is going to have to be necessary for some of the new government officials. And then, finally, there’s going to be a big information war, the kind of issue raised by Congressman Royce, and it is very essential in this period—and this is what the groups that we help are doing—is to get people reliable and independent information so they don’t make the judgments based upon the disinformation that is going to be promoted by the forces that have just been removed from power. 1:49:40 Representative Karen Bass (CA): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I want to welcome my colleagues from NED and IRI and NDI. And I’m a member of the NED board, for my colleagues that are here on the committee, and I have to say the work that NED does around the world is really tremendous. 2:07:52 Representative Ted Poe (TX): Globally, what do you personally see is the number-one entity that is a threat to democracy worldwide? Is it China? Is it Russia? Is it North Korea? Is it ISIS? Is it Iran? Pick one. Pick the one you think is the threat. Carl Gershman: China. Rep. Poe: China. Gershman: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Twining. Daniel Twining: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Wollack. Kenneth Wollack: Russia. Rep. Poe: Russia. Russia and China. 2:35:00 Carl Gershman And I think it should not be forgotten: NED was created as an independent institution so that even when you have problems, whatever the problems are with the executive branch, our work continues consistently. And I think that was a brilliant idea, and it’s in the National Endowment for Democracy Act adopted by the Congress by Dante Fascell in 1983, and I think it was brilliant to give the NED that kind of independence so that we can go forward, regardless of what the policies of the executive branch are at any particular time. 2:47:46 Carl Gershman: I take pride in the fact that when we make grants to groups abroad, I take pride that it’s with American taxpayer money. We try to protect that money. We try to make sure that every single dollar is spent well. But I take pride in the fact that that’s a demonstration of the support coming from the American people. Sound Clip Sources

    News Interview: The Rules-Based International Order Created by the U.S. is Being Torn Apart by the U.S., CNN, June 10, 2018.

    2:30 Sen. Diane Feinstein I mean we have helped support this whole Democratic Atlantic community and more or less forged it into a single entity. And I’ve been very proud of that as an American.

    Speech: Madeleine K. Albright Gives Keynote Remarks at 2018 Albright Luncheon, National Democratic Institute, YouTube, May 10, 2018.

    10:50 Madeline Albright We are employing every tool at our disposal from the use of focus groups to the collection of more accurate data, to connections made through social media, to the design of election observer missions, to the drafting of model laws, to partnerships with regional bodies and the United Nations, to the mobilization of public opinion from around the equator and from pole to pole.

    Discussion: Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden, Council on Foreign Affairs, January 23, 2018.

    Speakers:

    Joe Biden Richard Haass - President of the Council on Foreign Relations

    Joe Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

    Hearing: Facebook, Google and Twitter Executives on Russian Election Interference, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN, November 1, 2017.

    Witnesses: Kent Walker Google Senior Vice President & General Counsel Colin Stretch Facebook Vice President & General Counsel Sean Edgett Twitter Acting General Counsel 59:39 Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL): I submit to you that your efforts have to be more than just about finding malicious and deceptive activity, that you have a responsibility—all of you have a responsibility—to make sure that we are not adding to the problem by not being as rigorous and as aggressive as we can in terms of vetting the content and in terms of making sure that we are being really dynamic in doing that. 1:57:39 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): RT, Russia Today, on your platform, has 2.2 million subscribers. Fox News, on your platform, has 740,000 subscribers. CNN has 2.3 million subscribers. The Intelligence Community assessment that was made public in January spoke about RT, and it said, “RT conducts strategic messaging for Russian government. It seeks to influence politics and fuel discontent in the United States.” So my question to you is, why have you not shut down RT on YouTube?

    Hearing: Facebook, Google and Twitter Executives on Russian Disinformation , Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, October 31, 2017.

    Witnesses Colin Stretch - Facebook Vice President and General Counsel Sean Edgett - Twitter Acting General Counsel Richard Salgado - Google Law Enforcement & Information Security Director 38:25 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): And I gather that all of your companies have moved beyond any notion that your job is only to provide a platform and whatever goes across it is not your affair. Colin Stretch: Senator, our commitment to addressing this problem is unwavering. We take this very seriously and are committed to investing as necessary to prevent this from happening again. Absolutely. Whitehouse: Mr. Edgett? Sean Edgett: Absolutely agree with Mr. Stretch, and this type of activity just creates not only a bad user experience but distrust for the platform, so we are committed to working every single day to get better at solving this problem. Whitehouse: Mr. Salgado? Richard Salgado: That’s the same for Google. We take this very seriously. We’ve made changes, and we will continue to get better. Whitehouse: And ultimately, you are American companies, and threats to American election security and threats to American peace and order are things that concern you greatly, correct? Stretch: That is certainly correct. Edgett: Agree. Salgado: That’s right.

    Hearing: Subcommittee Hearing - The Collapse of the Rule of Law in Venezuela, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 19, 2017.

    Witness

    Luis Almagro Secretary General of the Organization of American States

    07:15 Senator Marco Rubio: I also know this, and I do not speak for the president, but I’ve certainly spoken to the president, and I will only reiterate what he has already said, and I’ve been saying this now for a number of days: it is my—I have 100% confidence that if democracy is destroyed once and for all in Venezuela on the 30th in terms of the Maduro regime, the president of the U.S. is prepared to act unilaterally in a significant and swift way. And that is not a threat; that is the reporting of the truth.

    Confirmation Hearing: Defense Secretary Nominee General James Mattis Says Russia is Trying to Break NATO, US Senate, C-SPAN, January 12, 2017.

    John McCain: For seven decades, the United States has played a unique role in the world. We’ve not only put America first, but we’ve done so by maintaining and advancing a world order that has expanded security, prosperity, and freedom. This has required our alliances, our trade, our diplomacy, our values, but most of all, our military for when would-be aggressors aspire to threaten world order.

    Hearing: U.S. Strategy Against ISIS, Senate Armed Services Committee, C-SPAN, December 9, 2015.

    2:28:14 Sen. Lindsey Graham Here’s what I’ve done. I make an offer to our president that I believe this war is going to go on for a long time after his presidency; I believe that they’re going to go wherever they can on the planet and that we should stop them wherever necessary; and when it comes to means, we should not limit this commander in chief or any other commander in chief when it comes to means.

    Speech: Gov. Howard Dean - DemTools 2.0 Launch, NDI's DemTools Launch Event, December 9, 2015.

    9:55 Howard Dean I’m incredibly proud to be a member of the board of NDI, which is an incredibly sophisticated organization that does not shrink from bringing democracy to any corner of the Earth, including some we’re not allowed in. We get there anyway.

    Speech: Sen. Tom Cotton Says US Should Shoot Down Russian Planes Over Syria, YouTube, October 1, 2015.

    Conference: Is the United States at a Crossroads? Domestic and Global Dimensions, Wilson Center, May 15, 2015.

    15:35 Jane Harmon Ukraine. You and I were there together. Madeline lead the delegation - of course she did - for the National Democratic Institute, which she chairs and the International Republican Institute was also there during the first Ukraine election in May of last year. And among other things we met with the presidential candidates including Poroshenko and Tymoshenko and we tooled around in Kiev and I also went to Odessa to see how the voting was going.

    Speech: Senator Dan Sullivan's Maiden Floor Speech, US Senate, C-SPAN, January 27, 2015.

    9:05 Sen. Dan Sullivan If the executive branch continues to dither on America’s economic future, Congress can and should act to expe- dite such projects. That is what we are doing with Keystone, and that is what I will be pressing the Congress to do for Alaska’s and America’s next great en- ergy infrastructure project—the Alas- ka LNG project—which will create thousands of jobs and provide clean and affordable energy to Americans and our allies for decades.

    Speech: Vice President Joe Biden Opens 2014 NDI Democracy Award Dinner, National Democratic Institute, December 11, 2014.

    32:40 Vice President Joe Biden That’s why in Ukraine, working alongside groups like NDI, with your leadership, we’re providing to the Ukrainians, as we had to the Iraqi’s, personnel from each of our departments teaching them how to literally, as I said, write a budget, expertise from our Justice Department, teaching them the tools that are available to ensure that the court systems are free and transparent. We’re helping Ukrainian officials develop laws and regulations that will establish anti-corruption institutions within the government, enable authorities to combat corruption more effectively. Our militaries are working together to improve Ukrainian capacity to provide it’s own defense and a military system that meets the standards of democracies, while providing security assistance to counter Russian aggression.

    Speech: Thomas A. Daschle's Speech to NDI's 30th Anniversary Dinner, National Democratic Institute, December 16, 2013.

    1:30 Tom Daschle Like many of you, - by the mission of NDI. The realization that we have had one focus now for 3 decades. And that focus is very simply to empower people to be able to govern themselves more effectively. That’s what we try to do.

    Speech: Mitt Romney Foreign Policy Speech, Virginia Military Institute, C-SPAN, October 8, 2012.

    17:25 Mitt Romney Fortunately, we had leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who knew that America had to support friends who shared our values, and prevent today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts. Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as the leader of the free world. We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets. We defended our friends, and ourselves, from our common enemies. We led. We led.

    News Interview: CIA Admits Orchestrating Syrian Coup of March 1949, BBC Interview, 1967.

    Additional Reading

    Article: Who will fix Facebook? by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, November 26, 2018.

    Article: US, Ukraine in 'close discussion' for new lethal arms by Joe Gould, Defense News, November 18, 2018.

    Article: Facebook purge: Here is the list of pages deleted by Facebook by Patrick Brown, The Western Journal, October 13, 2018.

    Biography: George Catlett Marshall, United States General, by Forrest C. Pogue, Encyclopedia Britannica, last updated October 12, 2018.

    Article: Anti-Media shut down by Facebook and Twitter by Caitlin Johnstone, The Anti-Media, October 11, 2018.

    Article: Facebook purged over 800 U.S. accounts and pages for pushing politcal spam by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm, The Washington Post, October 11, 2018.

    Article: Facebook tempts political backlash with massive purge of 810 pages and accounts by Rhett Jones, Gizmodo, October 11, 2018.

    Article: The survivors of the Rohingya Genocide by Jason Motlagh, Rolling Stone, August 9, 2018.

    Article: John McCain passes the torch at the International Republican Institute by Josh Rogin, The Washington Post, August 3, 2018.

    Article: Exclusive: IMF backs Ukraine anti-corruption court plan by Marc Jones, Reuters, July 25, 2018.

    Article: Ukraine anti-corruption court law needs amending - IMF chief by Reuters, June 19, 2018.

    Article: Independent candidates get most votes in Tunisia's municipal election by Tarek Amara, Reuters, May 8, 2018.

    Article: Trump is gutting the National Endowment for Democracy, and that's a good thing by Stephen Kinzer, The Boston Globe, March 14, 2018.

    Article: The Trump administration wants to dismantle Ronald Reagan's 'infrastructure of democracy' by Josh Rogin, The Washington Post, March 4, 2018.

    Article: House Foreign Affairs Chairman Royce announces retirement by Bridget Bowman, Roll Call, January 8, 2018.

    Article: What the United States did in Indonesia by Vincent Bevins, The Atlantic, October 20, 2017.

    Article: Is John McCain's pick to lead the International Republican Institute a strike against Donald Trump? by Timothy J. Burger, Town & Country Magazine, August 10, 2017.

    Article: Confront authoritarianism by defending democratic values by Carl Gersham , Journal Sentinel Online, October 22, 2016.

    Article: Russia adds International Republican Institute to growing list of "undesirable organizations", International Republican Institute, August 18, 2016.

    Article: Bernie Sanders is exactly right: The media is an arm of the ruling class of this country by Brian Hanley, Huffpost, March 28, 2016.

    Article: Pro-democracy nonprofit is banned in Russia by Ivan Nechepurenko, The New York Times, March 11, 2016.

    Article: Evil internet bill CISPA is back from the dead, cleverly titled CISA by Kelly Weill, Daily Beast, October 28, 2015.

    Article: National Endowment for Democracy is first 'undesirable' NGO banned in Russia by Alec Luhn, The Guardian, July 28, 2015.

    Article: Former Soviet states stand up to Russia. Will the U.S.? by Carl Gershman, The Washington Post, September 26, 2013.

    Article: Russia wields hard power over Armenia by Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, September 20, 2013.

    Article: Covert plan for Panama may be wrong message to send the opposition, The Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1988.

    Article: U.S. assembled a force in 1964 for possible use in Brazil coup by David Binder, The New York Times Archives, December 30, 1976.

    Article: Oil discovery in Brazil expected to aid economy, The New York Times Archives, December 9, 1964.

    Resources

    About Page: International Monetary Fund, Destruction and Reconstruction (1945-1958), Cooperation and Recovery: The Marshall Plan

    About Page: German Marshall Fund

    About Page: National Democratic Institute - Who We Are

    Archived Form: National Endowment for Democracy For 990 (2002-2015)

    Board of Directors: International Republican Institute

    Board of Directors: National Democratic Institute

    Board of Directors: National Endowment for Democracy

    Donation Page: National Endowment for Democracy

    FAQs: International Republican Institute - Who We Are

    Joint Statement: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019, p. 406

    Project Info: The Beacon Project, International Republican Institute

    Web Page: Democracy Assistance is Not Election Meddling: Distinguishing Support from Sabotage

    Letter: United States Senators to Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, December 20, 2017

    OpenSecrets: Sen. Dan Sullivan - Alaska

    Website: Albright Stonebridge Group

    Website: Bellingcat

    YouTube Channel: National Democratic Institute

    Visual Resources Tweet: @ElliotHiggins February 6, 2017 Community Suggestions

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • It’s impossible to analyze the political calculations of world leaders without factoring in global energy. In this episode, listen along with Jen and Joe Briney as they listen to a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing examining the Global Energy Outlook, which has served to determine the foreign policy decisions of U.S. leaders throughout 2018.

    Please Support Congressional Dish - Quick Links

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    CD167: Combating Russia (NDAA 2018) LIVE

    CD156: Sanctions - Russia, North Korea, Iran

    Sound Clip Sources

    Hearing: Full committee hearing to examine the domestic and global energy outlook, U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, January 16, 2018.

    Watch on C-SPAN: Domestic and global energy outlook Witness Dr. Fatih Birol CV

    World Economic Forum: Faith Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency

    World Economic Forum: Leadership and Governance

    Debate: House Debate on Russia, Iran and North Korea Sanctions, C-SPAN, July 25, 2017. 15:15 Tim Ryan (OH): What’s happening with these sanctions here in the targeting of Russian gas pipelines—their number one export—I think is entirely appropriate. The Nord Stream 2, which carries gas from Russia through the Baltics to Germany—and I know Germany isn’t happy about it, but this is something that we have to do. And the point I want to make is we have to address this issue in a comprehensive way. We must continue to focus on how we get our gas here in the United States, our natural gas, to Europe, to our allies, so they’re not so dependent on Russia. We’ve got to have the sanctions, but we’ve also got to be shipping liquid natural gas to some of these allies of ours so they’re not so dependent on the Russians, which is part and parcel of this entire approach. Additional Reading

    Report: Nord Stream 2 AG built over 150 miles of gas pipeline despite US opposition, Sputniknews, November 21, 2018.

    Article: Kremlin excoriates Poland's 'clumsy' statement on Nord Stream 2, Russian Politics and Diplomacy, Tass.com, November 19, 2018.

    Article: Gloomy prospects in IEA's latest World Energy Outlook by Jason Deign, GTM, November 13, 2018.

    Article: As NATO gets ready for its biggest military exercise in years, things are heating up closer to Russia by Christopher Woody, Business Insider, October 24, 2018.

    Report: IEA Urgest OPEC to open the taps as oil market enters 'red zone' by Javier Blas, Grant Smith, and Francine Lacqua, Bloomberg, October 9, 2018.

    Report: Boosting NATO's presence in the east and southeast, NATO, September 10, 2018.

    Report: Trade war seen threatening next US LNG export wave by Corey Paul, S&P Global, August 23, 2018.

    Article: Why Nord Stream 2 is the world's most controversial energy project, The Economist, August 7, 2018.

    Report: Development of Alaska's ANWR would increase U.S. crude oil production after 2030, EIA, June 14, 2018.

    Analysis: How the Alaska Pipeline is fueling the push to drill in the Arctic Refuge by Philip Wight, Yale Environment 360, November 16, 2017.

    Statement: CAATSA/CRIEEA Section 232 Public Guidance, U.S. Dept. of State, October 31, 2017.

    Article: North Korea is sitting on a stockpile of minerals worth trillions by Chris Weller, Business Insider, June 29, 2017.

    Article: Pentagon pick Mattis discloses defense industry work by Jeremy Herb and Connor O'Brien, Politico, January 8, 2017.

    Article: Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry by Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, March 6, 2014.

    Resources

    American Oil & Gas Historical Society: Trans-Alaska Pipeline History

    Chatham House: Chatham House Rule

    Congressional Research Service: Nord Stream 2: A Geopolitical Lightning Rod

    2018 Government Funding Explanatory Statement: Funding for Ukraine

    Dept. of Defense Budget FY 2019: European Deterrence Initiative

    East European Gas Analysis: Ukrainian Gas Pipelines Map

    Gazprom: TurkStream Gas Pipeline

    Govtrack: H.R. 3364: Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

    Govtrack: H.R. 6384: Countering Russian Power Plays Act

    Govtrack: S. 3229: Energy Security Cooperation with Allied Partners in Europe Act of 2018

    Govtrack: H.R. 6224: Protect Euorpean Energy Security Act

    Govtrack: H.R. 6437: Secure America from Russian Interference Act of 2018

    International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook 2018

    International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook 2017

    International Energy Agency: Energy Business Council

    International Energy Agency: History

    OpenSecrets.org: Sen. John A Barrasso - Wyoming

    OPEC: Member Countries

    Public Law: Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

    Wikipedia: OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

    Visual Resources Nord Stream Map Trans-Alaska Pipeline Community Suggestions

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • Divided government! The 2018 midterm elections are over and we know what the 116th Congress is going to look like: The Republican Party will continue to control the Senate and the Democratic Party will control the House of Representatives. In this episode, we discuss the likely ramifications of a divided Congress, some of the interesting results of individual Congressional races, and the opportunities available for Republicans to get their last wishes rammed into law before their complete Congressional control ends in January.

    Please Support Congressional Dish - Quick Links

    Click here to contribute a lump sum or set up a monthly contribution via PayPal

    Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon

    Send Zelle payments to: Donation@congressionaldish.com

    Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney

    Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to:

    5753 Hwy 85 North Number 4576 Crestview, FL 32536

    Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

    Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

    Recommended Episodes

    CD179: Hearing: Who's Tracking the Immigrant Kids?

    CD166: I Spy a Shutdown

    CD149: Fossil Fuel Foxes

    CD143: Trump's Law Enforcers

    CD089: Secrets of the CRomnibus (2015 Budget)

    CD087: Run for Congress with Chris Clemmons

    Additional Reading

    Article: Trump's appointment of the acting Attorney General is unconstitutional by Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, The New York Times, November 8, 2018.

    Article: DoD is sending 7,000 troops to the border. Here's every unit going. by Tara Copp, Military Times, November 8, 2018.

    Article: It's not over: Days after election, these races are still undecided by Brian Naylor, NPR, November 8, 2018.

    Article: Rep. Duncan Hunter keeps seat despite charges by Julie Watson, WBTV, November 8, 2018.

    Article: Trump warns Dems over potential investigations: 'Two can play that game!' by Brett Samuels, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Top Dems quickly announce leadership intentions by Mike Lillis, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Nevada voters approve automatic voter registration by Aris Folley, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Connecticut elects first black congresswoman by Jessie Hellmann, The Hill, November 11, 2018.

    Article: Jeff Sessions pushed out after a year of attacks from Trump by Erick Tucker and Michael Balsamo, AP News, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Ayanna Pressley officially Massachusetts' 1st black congresswoman by William J. Kole, Boston Globe, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Don Young holds on to House seat in Alaska by Miranda Green, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter wins reelection despite criminal charges by Juliegrace Brufke, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Florida U.S. Senate race between Rick Scott, Bill Nelson could be heading for recount by Mark Skoneki, Steven Lemongello, and Gray Rohrer, The Orlando Sentinel, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Democrat Colin Allred grabs Dallas-area U.S. House seat from GOP's Pete Sessions by Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas News, November 7, 2018.

    Article: The investigations Trump will face now that Democrats control the House by Adam Davidson, The New Yorker, November 7, 2018.

    Article: With midterms over, lame-duck congress now turns to avoiding a shutdown by Eric Katz, Government Executive, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Next chairman of Ways and Means Committee plans to demand Trump's tax return by Justin Wise, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: The private business of for-profit prisons in the US by AYŞE NUR DOK, TRT World, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Newly empowered, House Democrats plan to launch immediate investigations of Trump, but leaders are wary of impeachment by Karoun Demirjian, Tom Hamburger, and Gabriel Pogrund, The Washington Post, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Top Judiciary Dem: Trump is about to 'learn he's not above the law' by Aris Folley, The Hill, November 7, 2018.

    Article: GOP Rep. Chris Collins, charged with insider trading, is projected to win re-election in New York by Dan Mangan, CNBC, November 7, 2018.

    Article: Former NFL players Anthony Gonzalez, Colin Allred elected to Congress by Curtis Crabtree, NBC Sports, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Cramer ousts Heitkamp in critical North Dakota Senate race by Max Greenwood, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Blackburn keeps Tennessee seat in GOP hands by Alexander Bolton, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Dem Lauren Underwood unseats Randy Hultgren in Illinois by Brett Samuels, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Hawley defeats McCaskill in tight Missouri Senate race by Jordain Carney, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Pence's brother wins Indiana House race by Megan Keller, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: GOP Rep. Chris Collins wins reelection in NY despite insider trading charges by Michael Burke, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Dem Colin Allredy topples Sessions in key Texas House seat by Lisa Hagen, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Graham lauds GOP Senate Results: 'Conservative judicial train is going to keep running!' by Megan Keller, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Coffman loses GOP seat in Colorado by Mike Lillis, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Mitt Romney wins Senate race in Utah by Alexander Bolton, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Rashida Tlaib becomes first Palestinian-American woman to win congressional seat by Emily Birnbaum, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Haaland becomes one of first Native American women elected to Congress by Morgan Gstalter, The Hill, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Sharice Davids makes history: Kansas' 1st gay rep, 1st Native American woman in Congress by Bryan Lowry and Katy Bergen, The Kansas City Star, November 6, 2018.

    Article: Ryan Zinke and the murky interior of Trumpworld by Timothy L. O'Brien, Bloomberg, November 1, 2018.

    Article: Sources: Justice Department investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke by Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Lauren Fox, and Gregory Wallace, CNN Politics, October 31, 2018.

    Article: Probe of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent to U.S. prosecutors by Ari Natter and Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg, October 30, 2018.

    Article: Lieu vows aggressive investigations of Trump if Dems retake House by Julia Manchester, The Hill, October 29, 2018.

    Blog: Budget reconciliation is the key to building the border wall by Rep. Bradley Byrne, The Hill, October 17, 2018.

    Article: $35M private immigration detention center proposted for Ionia by Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, October 16, 2018.

    Article: House will investigate Trump's attacks on democracy if Dems win, Cummings says by Julia Manchester, The Hill, October 1, 2018.

    Article: Ryan Zinke to the oil and gas industry: "Our government should work for you" by Umair Irfan, Vox, September 22, 2018.

    Article: Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife indicted in use of campaign funds for personal expenses by Laura Jarrett and Maeve Reston, CNN Politics, August 21, 2018.

    Article: Why Rep. Chris Collins's insider trading arrest is a huge deal - and also totally unsurprising by Tara Golshan, Vox, August 9, 2018.

    Article: 2 Texas congressman bought shares in drug firm at heart of Rep. Chris Collins' insider trading case by Rachel Cohrs, Dallas News, August 9, 2018.

    Article: This company is at the center of insider trading charges against Rep. Collins by Katherine Ross, The Street, August 9, 2018.

    Article: Rep. Chris Collins charged with insider trading, federal prosecutors announce by Renae Merle and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, August 8, 2018.

    Article: Indicted Rep. Chris Collins shows why members of Congress should not trade stocks by Josh Barro, Business Insider, August 8, 2018.

    Article: Scandals pile up for interior chief Ryan Zinke by Chris D'Angelo, Huffpost, July 23, 2018.

    Article: Interior watchdog opens probe of land deal linking Zinke, Halliburton chairman by Ben Lefebvre, Politico, July 18, 2018.

    Article: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's conduct attracts unprecedented scrutiny from government investigators by Greg Zimmerman, Medium, June 5, 2018.

    Article: A timeline of scandals and ethical shortfalls at Ryan Zinke's Interior Department by Evlondo Cooper and Ted MacDonald, Media Matters for America, May 7, 2018.

    Article: Profiting from enforcement: The role of private prisons in U.S. immigration detention by Livia Luan, Migration Policy Institute, May 2, 2018.

    Article: Liberal watchdog group sues Trump, alleging he violated constitutional ban by David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, The Washington Post, January 23, 2017.

    Article: GOP congressman, overwhelmed by constituents concerned about ACA repeal, sneaks out of event early by Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, January 15, 2017.

    Article: Congressman defends 'Citibank' provision in spending bill by Jim Acosta, CNN Politics, December 16, 2014.

    Article: Wall Street's omnibus triumph, and others by Russ Choma, Open Secrets News, December 12, 2014.

    Article: Why Citi may soon regret its big victory on Capitol Hill by Rob Blackwell, American Banker, December 11, 2014.

    Article: How Wall St. got its way by Dave Clarke, Kate Davidson, and Jon Prior, Politico, December 11, 2014.

    Resources

    ACLU Talking Points: 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

    Bill Overview: H.R. 992 (113th): Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act

    Live News: CNN Election Night in the US

    Company Announcement: BAKKEN Binding Expansion Open Season, Energy Transfer

    Letter: Resignation Letter of Jeff Sessions

    OpenSecrets: Rep. Kevin Cramer - North Dakota District 1

    OpenSecrets: Rep. Kevin Yoder, Kansas District 03

    Wikipedia: Chris Collins (American Politician)

    Visual Resources Sound Clip Sources Interview: Schiff responds to threat from President Trump, CNN Politics, November 8, 2018. News Conference: Minority Leader Pelosi on 2018 Election Results, C-SPAN, November 7, 2018.

    19:30 Representative Nancy Pelosi: In any event, next week we look forward to welcoming our new class of freshmen. We will celebrate their diversity, the freshness of their thinking, and the rest. And they will immediately be incorporated into our building consensus and how we go forward in a very open, transparent, bipartisan, unifying Congress. Any questions?

    21:10 Representative Nancy Pelosi: In appropriations and in many of the other committee—all of the other committees—we have a responsibility for oversight. And, hopefully, in the course of asking for information, we can just make the request and the information will come in. We’re concerned about what’s happening at EPA, for example, to degrading the air we breathe and the water we drink despite what the president said today. So, that’s only one example.

    27:30 Unknown Speaker: Follow up on what the president said this morning. He made clear that if Democrats launch investigations, that any hopes for bipartisanship is off. Do you have any concerns that these investigations could jeopardize your opportunities to legislate? Representative Nancy Pelosi: We do not intend to abandon or relinquish our responsibility as Article I, the first branch of government, and our responsibilities for accountability, for oversight, and the rest. This doesn’t mean we go looking for a fight, but it means that if we see a need to go forward, we will. But that will be the work of our committees. Every committee has oversight responsibility. Congresswoman Eshoo’s on Energy and Commerce, and that’s a big oversight committee, as some of you probably are aware. But, specifically, to some of the concerns that the president may have, the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Oversight Committee, the—well, there’re a number of committees that—depending on how we go down that path—the Financial Services committee, did I say Intelligence? Oh, Homeland Security Committee, because, of course, we are shamed as a nation by a policy that takes babies out of the arms of their mothers, that builds tents, and all the rest to house people, and there’s separation of families. So we want to look into that, and we would hope that we can do so by simply having oversight. If, in fact, requires a subpoena—I hope not, but—so be it.

    News Conference: President Trump on 2018 Election Results, C-SPAN, November 7, 2018. 23:00 President Donald Trump: Their whole agenda has been to try not giving me anything for the wall. I really believe politically they’re hurting themselves. I actually think politically that’s a good thing for me, but I want to get the wall up because we need to— Unknown Speaker: So no shut-down scenario— President Trump: I don’t know. I can’t tell you that. Unknown Speaker: —for the, for the mid, for the lame duck. President Trump: No, I can’t commit to that, but it’s possible. News Conference: Democrat Richard Neal says he plans to seek Trump tax returns, APNews, YouTube, November 7, 2018. Hearing: Unaccompanied Immigrant Children, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, C-SPAN, August 16, 2018.

    1:14:30 Senator Claire McCaskill: This is about the fourth or fifth time I’ve been on this dais, and no one seems to be worried about the fact that you all get to wash your hands of these children. You want to talk about catch and release? You’re catching these children and then you’re releasing them and everyone goes like this. Not my problem. I think the thing that really stuck out to me in the report that the committee issued was the finding—and this was finding number 14—HHS has a plan to notify state governments before placing unaccompanied children previously held in secure facilities, but HHS has failed to implement that plan. HHS explained it cannot implement the plan because it cannot determine who to notify in state government. Well, let me just tell you, Commander, I will make an offer to you today: I think my staff can get you a list of agencies and phone numbers before close of business tomorrow. Would that be helpful? Commander Jonathan White: I’ll be glad to convey that, but I think it does address—I think there are very real questions, but— Sen. McCaskill: No, they’re not. White: —widely appro— Sen. McCaskill: No. They’re not. Every state has a child-welfare agency. In Missouri, it’s the Missouri Department of Social Services, the Children’s Division, and they’re responsible for foster care, for child placement, for monitoring child detention centers, they are responsible for the welfare of children who have been separated from their families. And they have contacts in every corner of my state. There’s a hotline that they administer. There is all kinds of ways that they can communicate with school systems, with local governments, with all the people that are working as foster parents. There is a huge network in every single state, because you know what the states do? They take the responsibility for having children in their care seriously.

    1:54:30 Senator Heidi Heitkamp: One facility provider basically, if my rough math is right, 11,000 children have been assigned to Southwest Key over a number of facilities, not one facility, but they’re obviously a large provider. The reports coming out of Dallas say that they basically, in a half-year period, have a contract that’s worth a half a billion dollars that they’re being paid, which, if you do the rough math, that’s about $45,000 per child. I think that we should have some pretty high expectations at $45,000 per child. So I would love a list of all the contractors that you currently have, the number of complaints, and the severity of the complaints, in each one of those cases, what disciplinary action has been, and how you’re cooperating consistently with state authorities, who usually are the licensing authorities, and I understand that.

    Audio Recording: Nunes on secret tape: Kavanaugh vote, then Rosenstein impeachment, MSNBC, July 30, 2018. Hearing: Wartime Contracting, Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee, C-SPAN, July 16,2013. 3:30 Senator Claire McCaskill: I learned just this week that the Defense Department spent millions to construct a building in Afghanistan that has never been used. This facility was built despite the fact that the forward commander said they neither needed nor wanted this facility, in May 2010, almost a full year before construction began. We now have a brand-new state-of-the-art building that cost the taxpayers 34 million to build. The worst part is that all indications are, we’re going to tear it down. We can’t even give it away to the Afghanistan government for free because they don’t want a building that they will have to spend millions to rewire because it was built to U.S. electrical code. I also recently learned that more than 13 million may have been wasted on a USAID agricultural development contract with a company called Chemonics. The waste alone is bad enough, but the Special Inspector General also found that the contractor failed to cooperate with the audit. Frankly, that’s just unacceptable. Hearing: Wartime Contracting, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, C-SPAN, September 21, 2011. 46:30 Senator Claire McCaskill: I want to talk about something that I mentioned—and you mentioned in your report, but I think it’s something we need to flesh out for this committee—and that’s contractors being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States of America. Heartbreaking incident in Iraq, that I'm sure you all are aware of, where the negligence of one of our contractors killed one of our soldiers. And in trying to find justice for that family, the contractor avoided the jurisdiction of the United States, and the most insulting thing about it was he then got another—that company then got another contract with our government. After they had used the fact that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of our country as a way to avoid justice for this man’s family, we then decided we should sign up again with them. Community Suggestions Super Typhoon Yutu Relief Campaign

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • Taxes: We all hate them but we all have to pay them. In December 2017, the Republicans in Congress rushed major changes to our tax policy into law. In this episode, host Jen Briney and her accountant friend, Alexis Claypool, explain the most significant changes to how our tax payments are going to be calculated and how these changes are likely to affect us. You will also learn about a major dingleberry that hitchhiked its way into law attached to this bill. Joe Briney joins Jen for the Thank Yous.

    Please Support Congressional Dish - Quick Links

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    H.R. 1: An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018. Subtitle A - Individual Tax Reform Part I - Tax Rate Reform

    Sec. 11001. Modification of Rates

    Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns

    Heads of Households

    Unmarried Individuals

    Inflation Adjustment

    Part II - Deduction for Qualified Business Income of Pass-Thru Entities

    Sec. 11011. Deduction for Qualified Business Income

    Phase-In of Limit for Certain Taxpayers

    Qualified Business Income

    Exception for specified service businesses based on taxpayer's income

    Threshold Amount

    Application to partnerships and S Corporations

    Part III - Tax Benefits for Families and Individuals

    Sec. 11021. Increase in Standard Deduction

    Sec. 11022. Increase in and Modification of Child Tax Credit.

    Sec. 11027. Temporary Reduction in Medical Expense Deduction Floor.

    Special Rules for Use of Retirement Funds with Respect to Areas Damaged by 2016 Disasters

    Part IV - Education Part V - Deductions and Exclusions

    Sec. 11042. Limitation on Deduction for State and Local, etc. Taxes

    Sec. 11043. Limitation on Deduction for Qualified Residence Interest

    Sec. 11045. Suspension of Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions

    Sec. 11047. Suspension of Exclusion for Qualified Bicycle Commuting Reimbursement

    Sec. 11048. Suspension of Exclusion for Qualified Moving Expense Reimbursement

    Sec. 11049. Suspension of Deduction for Moving Expenses

    Sec. 11051. Repeal of Deduction for Alimony Payments

    Part VI - Increase in Estate and Gift Tax Exemption

    Sec. 11061. Increase in Estate and Gift Tax Exemption

    Part VII - Extension of Time Limit for Contesting IRS Levy Part VIII - Individual Mandate

    Sec. 11081. Elimination of Shared Responsibility of Payment for Individuals Failing to Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage

    Subtitle B - Alternative Minimum Tax

    Sec. 12001. Repeal of Tax for Corporations

    Sec. 12003. Increased Exemption for Individuals

    Subtitle C - Business-related Provisions Part I - Corporate Provisions

    Sec. 13001. 21-Percent Corporate Tax Rate

    Part II - Small Business Reforms

    Sec. 1301. Modifications of Rules for Expensing Depreciable Business Assets

    Part III - Cost Recovery and Accounting Methods

    Sec. 13201. Temporary 100-Percent Expensing for Certain Business Assets

    Sec. 13202. Modifications to Depreciation Limitations on Luxury Automobiles and Personal Use Property

    Part IV - Business-Related Exclusions and Deductions

    Sec. 13301. Limitation on Deduction for Interest

    Sec. 13304. Limitation on Deduction by Employers of Expenses for Fringe Benefits

    Qualified Transportation Fringes

    Transportation and Commuting Benefits

    Sec. 13306. Denial of Deduction for Certain Fines, Penalties, and Other Amounts

    Sec. 13307. Denial of Deduction for Settlements Subject to Nondisclosure Agreements Paid in Connection with Sexual Harassment or Sexual Abuse

    Sec. 13308. Repeal of Deduction for Local Lobbying Expenses

    Sec. 13311. Elimination of Deduction for Living Expenses Incurred by Members of Congress

    Part V - Business Credits

    Sec. 13403. Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave

    Termination

    Part VI - Provisions Related to Specific Entities and Industries

    Sec. 13531. Limitation on Deduction for FDIC Premiums

    Part VII - Employment

    Sec. 13602. Excise Tax on Excess Tax-Exempt Organization Executive Compensation

    Part VII - Exempt Organizations

    Sec. 13702. Excise Tax Based on Investment Income of Private Colleges and Universities

    Part IX - Other Provisions

    Sec. 13802. Reduced Rate of Excise Tax on Beer

    Sec. 13804. Reduced Rate of Excise Tax on Wine

    Sec. 13807. Reduced Rate of Excise Tax on Certain Distilled Spirits

    Subtitle D - International Tax Provisions Part 1 - Outbound Transactions

    Sec. 14101. Deduction for Foreign-Source Portion of Dividends Received by Domestic Corporations from Specified 10-Percent Owned Foreign Corporations

    Sec. 14202. Deduction for Foreign-Derived Intangible Income and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income

    Sec. 14211. Elimination of Inclusion of Foreign Base Company Oil Related Income

    Part II - Inbound Transactions Part III - Other Provisions Title II

    Sec. 20001. Oil and Gas Program

    Sec. 20003. Strategic Petroleum Reserve Drawdown and Sale

    Additional Reading

    Article: Tax reform eliminates deduction for moving expenses by Brittany Benson, H&R Block, October 24, 2018.

    Article: What are political or lobbying expenses and are they deductible? by Jean Murray, The Balances MB, October 23, 2018.

    Article: What changes has the IRS made to moving expense reimbursement? by Terry Sheridan, Accounting Web, October 3, 2018.

    Article: How the Trump tax law passed: GOP adds sweeteners by The Hill Staff, The Hill, September 28, 2018.

    Article: Repatriated profits total $465 billion after Trump tax cuts - leaving $2.5 trillion overseas by Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch, September 19, 2018.

    Article: Foreign-derived intangible income deduction: Tax reform's overlooked new benefit for U.S. corporate exporters by Frank J. Vari, The Tax Adviser, August 2, 2018.

    Article: Will the Tax Act set back private equity? by David Dayen, The American Prospect, July 2, 2018.

    Article: The new tax form is postcard-size, but more complicated than ever by Jim Tankersley, The New York Times, June 25, 2018.

    Article: Four key changes for depreciation deductions by Bobby M. Bragg, Jamison Money Farmer PC, May 29, 2018.

    Article: New: IRS announces 2018 tax rates, standard deductions, exemption amounts and more by Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes, March 7, 2018.

    Article: New excise tax on excess executive compensation by tax-exempt organizations by Christine Faris and Stephen Sutten, Baker Tilly, January 29, 2018.

    Article: Tax credit aims to boost availability of paid family leave, but will it work? by Michelle Andrews, NPR, January 23, 2018.

    Article: Corporate America celebrated tax cuts by laying off workers by David Dayen, Vice, January 10, 2018.

    Article: Andy Blunt joining in lobbying venture wtih long-time confidant of his father by Chuck Raasch, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 10, 2018.

    Article: Bonus tucked into GOP tax bill for those aiming to deduct medical expenses by Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News, December 22, 2017.

    Article: Final tax bill includes huge estate tax win for the rich: The $22.4 million exemption by Ashlea Ebeling, Forbes, December 21, 2017.

    Article: Newly passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates employers' commuter benefits deductions by Matt Gerard, NBS, December 21, 2017.

    Article: Beer, wine, and spirits industries toast passage of GOP tax bill by Victor I. Nava, Washington Examiner, December 20, 2017.

    Article: A quick guide to the GOP tax plan, Bloomberg News, December 18, 2017.

    Article: CEOs aren't waiting for the tax bill to pass - they've already started pocketing the windfall by David Dayen, The Intercept, December 18, 2017.

    Article: Have you ever felt sorry for the I.R.S.? Now might be the time by Patricia Cohen, The New York Times, December 18, 2017.

    Article: File your taxes on a postcard? A G.O.P. promise marked undeliverable by Jim Tankersley, The New York Times, December 16, 2017.

    Article: Special giveaways in tax cut bill benefit family members and colleagues of key GOP senators by Lee Fang, The Intercept, December 1, 2017.

    Article: CBO: Senate tax bill would hurt poor by Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill, November 27, 2017.

    Article: Republican plan delivers permanent corporate tax cut by Jim Tankersley, Thomas Kaplan, and Alan Rappeport, The New York Times, November 2, 2017.

    Article: The GOP Tax Bill is out - and now we know why it was secret for so long by David Dayen, The Nation, November 2, 2017.

    Article: BP's $20.8 billion gulf spill settlement nets $15.3 billion tax write-off by Robert W. Wood, Forbes, October 6, 2015.

    Resources

    CDC: Alcohol and Public Health

    Govtrack: H.R. 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

    Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy: Who Pays?

    Joint Committee on Taxation Publication: JX-67-17

    OpenSecrets.org: Dan Sullivan

    OpenSecrets.org: Don Young

    OpenSecrets.org: Lisa Murkowski

    OpenSecrets.org: Rep. Mike Kelly

    OpenSecrets.org: Rep. Peter DeFazio

    OpenSecrets.org: Sen. Rob Portman

    OpenSecrets.org: Sen. Roy Blunt

    Treasury.gov: Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code

    Turbo Tax: What Are Standard Tax Deductions?

    USGS: ANWR Maps

    Sound Clip Sources Congressional Record of the 115th Congress; House of Representatives, Wednesday, September 27, 2017. Congressional Record of the 115th Congress; House of Representatives, Thursday, September 28, 2017. Congressional Record of the 115th Congress; House of Representatives, Wednesday, October 4, 2017. Congressional Record of the 115th Congress; House of Representatives, Monday, December 18, 2017. Congressional Record of teh 115th Congress; House of Representatives, Tuesday, December 19, 2017. Community Suggestions

    See more Community Suggestions HERE.

    Cover Art

    Design by Only Child Imaginations

    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

  • It's done. Brett Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court Justice. Most of the media coverage of his confirmation centered on the sexual assault allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford but that's only one part of the story. In this episode, learn about the procedural tricks employed by Senate Republicans and the George W. Bush administration to place Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and hear highlights from over 40 hours of Brett Kavanaugh's policy-oriented confirmation hearings that most of the country didn't see.

    Please Support Congressional Dish - Quick Links

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    Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon

    Send Zelle payments to: Donation@congressionaldish.com

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    Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to:

    5753 Hwy 85 North Number 4576 Crestview, FL 32536

    Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

    Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

    Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD117: Authorization for Limitless War Additional Reading

    Blog: Why the ACLU opposes Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the supreme court by Susan N. Herman, ACLU, October 3, 2018.

    Article: California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault by Emma Brown, The Washington Post, September 16, 2018.

    Records: Records, papers, decisions: Kavanaugh records and the Presidential Records Act, related author Meghan M. Stuessy, FAS.org, August 27, 2018.

    Report: ACLU report on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, ACLU, August 15, 2018.

    Article: Brett Kavanaugh ruled Consumer Financial Protection Bureau structurally unconstitutional by Manuela Tobias, Politifact, July 25, 2018.

    Article: There's no conspiracy between Trump and Kennedy. There's just the swamp by David Litt, The Washington Post, July 3, 2018.

    Article: Donald Trump made Justice Kennedy an offer he couldn't refuse by Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair, June 29, 2018.

    Article: Inside the White House's quiet campaign to create a Supreme Court opening by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times, June 28, 2018.

    Article: Here's what is known about the surprising choice to lead the CFPB by Francine McKenna, Market Watch, June 18, 2018.

    Article: The clock is running out on Mick Mulvaney by Renae Merle, The Washington Post, June 12, 2018.

    Article: Official cause of death for Antonin Scalia released by David Warren, Dallas News, February 2016.

    Article: George W. Bush's bizarre bathroom self-portraits laid bare by audacious hack by Sam Byford, The Verge, February 8, 2013.

    Resources

    Case Information: Carpenter v. United States

    Executive Order: Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act

    Sound Clip Sources Hearing: 2004 Kavanaugh Judicial Nomination Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, April 27, 2004.

    Witness:

    Brett Kavanaugh

    Sound Clips:

    1:14:14 Senator Jeff Sessions (AL): Judges, if you’re confirmed, are not accountable to the public. You never stand for election again. You hold your office for life. Many of your decisions are unreviewable ultimately, and it leaves the American people subject to decisions in an anti-democratic forum unless that judge restrains him or herself and enforces the law as written or the Constitution as declared by the people of the United States.

    1:24:15 Senator Patrick Leahy (VT): The question is secrecy in government, and this administration has shown more secrecy than any administration I’ve served with, from the Ford administration forward. You were the author, one of the first indicators of this increase in secrecy, Executive Order 13233, that drastically changed the Presidential Records Act. It gave former presidents, their representatives, and even the incumbent president, virtual veto power over what records of theirs would be released, posed a higher burden on researchers petitioning for access to what had been releasable papers in the past. After the order was issued, a number of historians, public interest organizations, opposed the change. The Republican-led House Committee on Government Reform approved a bill to reverse this. A lawsuit to overturn it was filed by Public Citizen, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and a number of others. Why did you favor an increase in the secrecy of presidential records? Brett Kavanaugh: Senator, with respect to President Bush's Executive Order, I think I want to clarify how you described it. It was an order that merely set forth the procedures for assertion of privilege by a former president, and let me explain what that means. The Supreme Court of the United States in Nixon v. GSA in 1977, opinion by Justice Brennan, had concluded that a former president still maintains a privilege over his records, even after he leaves office. This was somewhat unusual because there was an argument in the case that those are government records. But the Court concluded that both the current president and the former president have the right to assert privilege to prevent the release of presidential records. That’s obviously a complicated situation. The issue was coming to a head for the first time because there’s a 12-year period of repose, so 12 years after President Reagan left office was when this President Bush came into office, and there was a need to establish procedures. How’s this going to work, two different presidents asserting privilege or having the right to review? No one really had a good idea how this was going to work. The goal of the Order was merely to set forth procedures. It specifically says in Section 9 of the Order that it’s not designed in any way to suggest whether a former president or a current president should or should not assert privilege over his records. You’re quite right, Senator Leahy, that there was initial concern by historians about the Order. I think it was—I like to think it was based on a misunderstanding, and Judge Gonzales and I undertook to meet every 6 months or so with a large group of historians, first to discuss the Order and explain it, and then after that, to discuss any problems they were having with the Order, and to help improve it, if they suggested ways for improvement. I think those meetings, I think the historians who’ve come to see us, have found them useful, and I think we helped to explain what we had in mind and what the president's Order meant in terms of the procedure. So, that’s my explanation of that Order.

    Hearing: 2006 Kavanaugh Judicial Nomination Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, May 9, 2006.

    Witness:

    Brett Kavanaugh

    Sound Clips:

    58:44 Senator Orrin Hatch (UT): I also want to acknowledge the presence of Mr. Kavanaugh’s parents. I’ve known them for a long time. Ed Kavanaugh, for many years, he headed up the major trade association, the Cosmetic, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association, and he is deservedly admired by many in this town. And his mother served with distinction as a state court judge in Maryland for many, many years.

    1:47:15 Senator John Cornyn (TX): Of course, as you know, I met you a number of years ago when I was Attorney General of Texas and had the honor to represent my state in an argument before the United States Supreme Court, and that was Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, which involved a question of whether school children could voluntarily offer a prayer or an inspirational saying before school football games in Texas. And as you know, the Court ultimately ruled against that voluntary student prayer in the case. And Chief Justice Rehnquist, in dissent, said that the Court's ruling exhibited hostility to all things religious in public life. And I’m very concerned about that because I do believe that the founders thought that the posture of the government with regard to religious expression should be one of neutrality, not hostility. I realize as a lower court judge you’re going to be bound by the Supreme Court's precedents, but I wonder if you would address the issue of religious liberty and religious speech insofar as how you believe in your position as a circuit court judge, how you would approach those issues. Brett Kavanaugh: Senator, if I were confirmed to be a D.C. Circuit judge, I would of course follow the precedent of the Santa Fe case. That case addressed a question that had been left open in the Lee v. Weisman case in 1992. In that case, there was a school-sponsored prayer at a graduation ceremony where the government was actually involved, and one of the questions that was left open was, what happens if a student or a private speaker participates in a school event as a private speaker? And in the Santa Fe case, I think the Court concluded, based on the facts and circumstances of the case, that it could be attributed to the school and so was a violation of the Establishment Clause. I think the overall area represents a tension the Supreme Court has attempted to resolve throughout the years in terms of facilitating the free exercise of religion without crossing the Establishment Clause lines that the Court has set out for many years now. I know that the Court in recent years has made clear in a number of cases that private religious speech, religious people, religious organizations cannot be, or should not be, discriminated against and that treating religious speech, religious people, religious organizations equally—in other words, on a level playing field with nonreligious organizations—is not a violation of the Establishment Clause. In past years there had been some suggestion that treating religious organizations the same way in the public square as nonreligious organizations could sometimes be a violation of the Establishment Clause. I think the Court's really gone to a principle of equality of treatment does not ordinarily violate the Establishment Clause—again, equality of treatment of religious speech, religious people, religious organizations; equality in the public square. That's been something we've seen over the last, I'd say, decade or a little more.

    2:04:00 Former Senator Sam Brownback (KS): But just give me your view of the Constitution as a document itself. Is this a—can you put yourself in a category? Do you have a view that it’s established as a living document, as a strict constructionist of the Constitution itself? Brett Kavanaugh: Senator, I believe very much in interpreting text as it’s written and not seeking to impose one's own personal policy preferences into the text of the document. I believe very much in judicial restraint, recognizing the primary policymaking role of the legislative branch in our constitutional democracy. I believe very much, as a prospective inferior court judge, were I to be confirmed, in following the Supreme Court precedent strictly and absolutely. Once as a lower court judge, I think that’s very important for the stability of our three-level system for lower courts to faithfully follow Supreme Court precedent, and so that’s something that I think’s very important. In terms of the independence of the judiciary, I think that’s something that’s the hallmark of our judiciary, the hallmark of our system, that judges are independent from the legislative branch and independent from the executive branch. I think that’s central to my understanding of the proper judicial role.

    Hearing: 2018 Day 1 Part 1 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 4, 2018.

    12:55 Senator Chuck Grassley (IA): Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of— Senator Kamala Harris (CA): Mr. Chairman? Sen. Grassley: —Brett Kavanaugh— Sen. Harris: Mr. Chairman? Sen. Grassley: —to serve as Associate Justice— Sen. Harris: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed? Unknown Speaker: Regular order, Mr. Chairman. Sen. Grassley: —of the Supreme Court of the United States. Sen. Harris: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night, less than 15 hours ago— Unknown Speaker: Mr. Chairman, regular order. Sen. Harris: —42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze. Sen. Grassley: You’re out of order. I’ll proceed. Sen. Harris: We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman, of this hearing. Sen. Grassley: I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh— Sen. Harris: We have not been given an opportunity to have a— Sen. Grassley: —to his wife, Ashley— Sen. Harris: —meaningful hearing on the nominee. Sen. Grassley: —his two daughters, their extended family and friends— Senator Mazie Hirono (HI): Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, Senator Harris. Mr. Chairman— Sen. Grassley: —Judge Kavanaugh’s many law clerks— Sen. Hirono: —we received 42,000 documents that we haven’t been able— Sen. Grassley: —and everyone else joining us today. Sen. Hirono: —to review last night, and we believe this hearing should be postponed. Sen. Grassley: I know this is an exciting day for all of you here, and you’re rightly proud of the judge. Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT): Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn. Sen. Grassley: The American people— Sen. Blumenthal: Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Sen. Grassley: —get to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh later this afternoon. Sen. Blumenthal: Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied—we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise— Unknown Speaker: Mr. Chairman, regular order is called for. Sen. Blumenthal: —which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms. Sen. Grassley: Well— Sen. Blumenthal: And Mr. Chairman, I, therefore, move to adjourn this hearing. Sen. Grassley: Okay. Protester: This is a mockery and a travesty of justice. This is a travesty of justice, and we’ll not go back. Cancel Brett Kavanaugh. Adjourn the hearing. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Unknown Speaker: _______(02:07—What do we have to do? Trump? We may have to work with Trump. In a demonstrative adjourn, we have to have—) Unknown Speaker: We’re not in an executive session. Sen. Blumenthal: Mr. Chairman, I ask for a roll-call vote on my motion to adjourn.

    18:40 Senator Mazie Hirono (HI): Mr. Chairman, it is also— Senator Chuck Grassley (IA): I think that I— Sen. Hirono: Mr. Chairman, it is also not regular order for the majority— Sen. Grassley: Senator Hirono— Sen. Hirono: —to require the minority to pre-clear our questions, our documents and the videos we would like to use at this hearing. That is unprecedented. That is not regular order. Since when do we have to submit the questions and the process that we wish to follow to question this nominee? Sen. Grassley: Senator— Sen. Hirono: I’d like your clarification. Sen. Grassley: Senator Hirono— Sen. Hirono: I’d like your response on why you are requesting— Sen. Grassley: —I would ask that you— Sen. Hirono: — ____(00:30) order to submit our questions, too. Sen. Grassley: —I ask that you stop so we can conduct this hearing the way we have planned it. Maybe it isn’t going exactly the way that the minority would like to have it go— Protester: [unclear] Sen. Grassley: —but we have said for a long period of time that we were going to proceed on this very day, and I think we ought to give the American people the opportunity to hear whether Judge Kavanaugh should be on the Supreme Court or not. And you have heard my side of the aisle call for a regular order, and I think we ought to proceed in regular order. There will be plenty of opportunities to respond to the questions that the minority is— Protester 2: We didn’t vote for Judge Kavanaugh. [unclear] Sen. Grassley: —legitimately raising. Unknown Speaker: Get her thrown out of here, my god. Protester 3: [unclear] Sen. Grassley: And we will proceed accordingly. Unknown Speaker: What did she say? Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): Mr. Chairman, under regular order, may I ask a point of order, which is that we are now presented with a situation in which somebody has decided that there are 100,000 documents protected by executive privilege, yet there has not been an assertion of executive privilege before the committee. How are we to determine whether executive privilege has been properly asserted— Protester 4: [unclear] Sen. Whitehouse: —if this hearing goes by without the committee ever considering that question? Why is it not in regular order for us to determine before the hearing at which the documents would be necessary whether or not the assertion of privilege that prevents us from getting those documents is legitimate or indeed is even an actual assertion of executive privilege? I do not understand why that is not a legitimate point of order at this point, because at the end of this hearing, it is too late to consider it. Senator Patrick Leahy (VT): Mr. Chairman, if I might add to this, on the integrity of the documents we’ve received, there really is no integrity. They have alterations, they have oddities, attachments are missing, emails are cut off halfway through a chain, recipient’s names are missing—many are of interest to this committee, but it’s cut off. The National Archives hasn’t had a chance to get us all that we want, even though you said on your website the National Archives would act as a check against any political interference. But— Protester 5: [unclear] Sen. Leahy: —I’d check after the hearing is over, there’s no check, I think we ought to at least have the National Archives finish it, and to have for the first time, certainly in my 44 years here, to have somebody say there’s a claim of executive privilege when the president hasn’t made such a claim, just puts everything under doubt. What are we trying to hide? Why are we rushing?

    Hearing: 2018 Day 1 Part 2 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 4, 2018. Hearing: 2018 Day 2 Part 1 Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 5, 2018.

    Witness:

    Brett Kavanaugh

    Sound Clips:

    53:00 Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA): What would you say your position today is on a woman’s right to choose? Brett Kavanaugh: Well, as a judge— Sen. Feinstein: As a judge. Kavanaugh: As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court—by “it,” I mean Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—and reaffirm many times Casey is precedent on precedent, which itself is an important factor to remember, and I understand the significance of the issue, the jurisprudential issue, and I understand the significance, as best I can, I always try and I do hear, of the real-world effects of that decision, as I try to do of all the decisions of my court and of the Supreme Court.

    1:02:35* Brett Kavanaugh: I can tell you about the U.S. v. Nixon precedent, and I did about Chief Justice Burger’s role in forging a unanimous opinion—and, really, all the justices worked together on that—but Chief Justice Burger, who had been appointed by President Nixon—appointed by President Nixon—writes the opinion in U.S. v. Nixon, 8-0—Rehnquist was recused—8-0, ordering President Nixon to disclose the tapes in response to a criminal trial subpoena. A moment-of-crisis argument, I think July 8, 1974. They decided two weeks later a really important opinion, a moment of judicial independence, important precedent of the Supreme Court.

    1:09:49 Senator Orrin Hatch (UT): I’d like to turn now to your work in the Bush administration. As you know, my Democratic colleagues are demanding to see every, every piece of paper or every single scrap of paper you ever touched during your six years in the Bush administration, in part because they want to know what role, if any, you played in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. Well, six years ago, Ranking Member Feinstein, who was then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a good one at that, issued a lengthy report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program under President Bush. The report detailed the origins, development, and implementation of the program. In 2014 a declassified version of that report was released to the public. The declassified version, or report, runs well over 500 pages, and your name appears nowhere in it. Now, I, myself, spent over 20 years on the Intelligence Committee. I know the quality of its staff and the work that they do, and I know the ranking member and how diligent she is. If you had played a role in the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, I think the ranking member would have discovered it. Numerous administration lawyers appear in the report, but not you. And that should tell us something. With that said, Judge Kavanaugh, I want to ask you for the record: what role, if any, did you play in developing or implementing the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies? Brett Kavanaugh: Well, the policies that are reflected and described in Senator Feinstein’s extensive, thorough report were very controversial, as you know, Senator—the enhanced interrogation techniques— Sen. Hatch: Right, right. Kavanaugh: —and the legal memos that were involved in justifying some of those techniques also were very controversial when they were disclosed in 2004. And I was not involved. I was not read into that program, not involved in crafting that program nor crafting the legal justifications for that program. In addition to Senator Feinstein’s report, the Justice Department did a lengthy Office of Professional Responsibility report about the legal memos that had been involved to justify some of those programs. My name’s not in that report, Senator, because I was not read into that program and not involved. There were a number of lawyers—and this came up at my last hearing—a number of lawyers who were involved, including a couple who were then judicial nominees. At my last hearing, I recall Senator Durbin asking about whether I also was likewise involved as these other judicial nominees had been, and the answer was no, and that answer was accurate, and that answer’s been shown to be accurate by the Office of Professional Responsibility report, by Senator Feinstein’s thorough report.

    2:37:49 Senator Lindsey Graham (SC): So when somebody says post-9/11, that we’ve been at war, and it’s called the War on Terrorism, do you generally agree with that concept? Brett Kavanaugh: I do, Senator, because Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which is still in effect. And that was passed, of course, on September 14, 2001, three days later. Sen. Graham: Let’s talk about the law and war. Is there a body of law called the law of armed conflict? Kavanaugh: There is such a body, Senator. Sen. Graham: Is there a body of law that’s called the basic criminal law? Kavanaugh: Yes, Senator. Sen. Graham: Are there differences between those two bodies of law? Kavanaugh: Yes, Senator. Sen. Graham: From an American citizen’s point of view, do your constitutional rights follow you? If you’re in Paris, does the Fourth Amendment protect you as an American from your own government? Kavanaugh: From your own government, yes. Sen. Graham: Okay. So, if you’re in Afghanistan, do your constitutional rights protect you against your own government? Kavanaugh: If you’re an American in Afghanistan, you have constitutional rights as against the U.S. government. Sen. Graham: Is there a longstanding— Kavanaugh: That’s long-settled law. Sen. Graham: Isn’t there also a long-settled law that—it goes back to Eisentrager case—I can’t remember the name of it— Kavanaugh: Yeah, Johnson v. Eisentrager. Sen. Graham: Right. —that American citizens who collaborate with the enemy have considered enemy combatants? Kavanaugh: They can be. Sen. Graham: Can be. Kavanaugh: They can be. They’re often—they’re sometimes criminally prosecuted, sometimes treated in the military sense. Sen. Graham: Well, let’s talk about “can be.” I think the— Kavanaugh: Under Supreme Court precedent— Sen. Graham: Right. Kavanaugh: —just want to make….yeah. Sen. Graham: There’s a Supreme Court decision that said that American citizens who collaborated with Nazi saboteurs were tried by the military. Is that correct? Kavanaugh: That is correct. Sen. Graham: I think a couple of them were executed. Kavanaugh: Yeah. Sen. Graham: So if anybody doubts, there’s a longstanding history in this country that your constitutional rights follow you wherever you go, but you don’t have a constitutional right to turn on your own government, collaborate with the enemy of the nation. You’ll be treated differently. What’s the name of the case, if you can recall, that reaffirmed the concept that you could hold one of our own as an enemy combatant if they were engaged in terrorist activities in Afghanistan? Are you familiar with that case? Kavanaugh: Yeah. Hamdi. Sen. Graham: Okay. So the bottom line is I want every American citizen to know you have constitutional rights, but you do not have a constitutional right to collaborate with the enemy. There's a body of law well developed long before 9/11 that understood the difference between basic criminal law and the law of armed conflict. Do you understand those differences? Kavanaugh: I do understand that there’re different bodies of law, of course, Senator.

    Hearing: 2018 Day 2 Part 2 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 5, 2018.

    Witness:

    Brett Kavanaugh Hearing: 2018 Day 2 Part 3 Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 5, 2018.

    Witness:

    Brett Kavanaugh

    Sound Clips:

    25:10 Brett Kavanaugh: My case, I upheld, importantly I upheld limits on contributions in the RNC case and in the Bluman case, and the Supreme Court has upheld contribution limits generally but struck them down when they’re too low in cases like Randall v. Sorrell, and McCutcheon.

    54:45 Brett Kavanaugh: The religious tradition reflected in the First Amendment is a foundational part of American liberty, and it’s important for us as judges to recognize that and not—and recognize too that, as with speech, unpopular religions are protected. Our job—we can, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, question their sincerity of a religious belief, meaning, is someone lying or not about it? But we can’t question the reasonableness of it, and so the Supreme Court has cases with all sorts of religious beliefs protected—Justice Brennan really the architect of that. So religious liberty is critical to the First Amendment and the American Constitution.

    1:50:00 Brett Kavanaugh: All the significant wars in U.S. history have been congressionally authorized, with one major exception—the Korean War. And the Korean War is an anomaly in many respects, and I think some of—the fact that it was undeclared and unauthorized really did lead to the Youngstown decision. But, you know, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, the AUMF against al Qaeda, the 2003 Iraq War, and then going back, World War II, World War I, the War of 1812—they’re all congressionally authorized. You can go back throughout, and I specify that. And so the war power, the power to take the nation into war, at least a significant one—and there’s some questions about short-term air strikes and things like that—but a significant war, that’s the biggest of all, and that’s something that Hamilton talked about in ’69 and that our historical practice, I think, is actually lived up to. I don’t mean to footnote Korea—that’s an enormous exception—but since then, they’ve all been congressionally authorized.

    1:56:30 Senator Ben Sasse (NE): And one of the reasons that the executive branch seems so powerful right now is, again, because of how weak the legislature is. I mean, it’s a fundamental part of why we have the term “president.” In the 1780s, this wasn’t a very common term in the English language. “President” was just a nounified form of the name “presiding officer,” and we made it up, our founders made it up so that we wouldn’t have a term that sounded a lot like a king. And so we wanted to be sure that the term “presiding officer” sounded pretty boring and administrative, because the legislative, the policymaking powers were supposed to sit in this body, and the Article Two branch is supposed to preside over and execute the laws that have been passed. It’s not supposed to be the locus of all policymaking in America, but one of the reasons we have some of these problems with so many of these executive agencies is because Congress regularly doesn’t finish its work, punch those powers to Article Two, and then it’s not clear who exactly can execute all those authorities. And so we end up with this debate about the unitary executive, and you had a different term for it, but unpack for us a little bit why you have a different view about both the prudence and the constitutionality of one-person-headed independent executive agencies or pseudo-independent agencies versus commission-structure-headed independent agencies. Brett Kavanaugh: The traditional independent agencies that were upheld by the Supreme Court in Humphrey’s Executor in 1935 are multi-member independent agencies. And so usually sometimes three, five, occasionally more, but they’re multi-member independent agencies, and that’s been all the way through. And then the—for the significant independent agencies—the CFPB—and I had no—it’s not my role to question the policy or to question the creation of the new agency. In fact, I think it was designed for efficiency and centralization of certain overlapping authorities. It’s not my role to question that policy. Someone challenged the fact that it was headed, for the first time on something like this, by a single person. And a couple things, then, I wrote about in my dissent in that case—I’ll just repeat what I wrote in the dissent—I said, “First of all, that’s a departure from historical practice of independent agencies, and that matters according to the Supreme Court.” They had a previous case involving the PCAOB, where they had different innovation there that the Supreme Court had struck down in part because of the novelty of it. So departure from historical practice matters because precedent always matters, including executive precedent. Then, diminution of presidential authority beyond the traditional independent agencies in this sense. With traditional independent agencies, when a new president comes in office, almost immediately the president has been given the authority to designate a new chair of the independent agencies, so when a new—when President Obama came in, was able to designate new chairs of the various independent agencies, and the chairs, of course, set the policy direction and control the agenda. That’s historically been the way. That does not happen with the CFPB. And finally, having a single person—just going back to liberty—who’s in charge, who’s not removable at will by anyone, not accountable to Congress, in charge of a huge agency is something that’s different and has an effect on individual liberty. So a single person can make these enormous decisions—rule makings, adjudications, and enforcement decisions, all of them—and from my perspective—I am just repeating what I wrote here. I’m not intending to go beyond what I wrote in that opinion that was an issue of concern. And I did put in a hypothetical because it seems abstract that—I think we’ll realize this issue with that agency or any other—when a president comes in to office and has to live for three, four years with a CFPB director appointed by the prior president. And then I think everyone’s going to realize—of a different party— Sen. Sasse: Right. Kavanaugh: — in particular—and then I think everyone’s going to realize, wow, that’s an odd structure. Now, maybe not, but that’s what I wrote in my opinion that that will seem very weird because that’s not what happens with all the traditional independent agencies. And so whenever any president leaves and has appointed in the last two years a CFPB director, the new president might campaign on consumer protection. Let’s imagine, okay, presidential campaigns on consumer protection and consumer issues and then comes into office and can’t actually appoint a new CFPB director for the whole term of his or her office, that’s going to seem, I think, quite odd structurally. At least, that’s what I said in my opinion.

    Hearing: 2018 Day 2 Part 4 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 5, 2018.

    Witness:

    Brett Kavanaugh

    Sound Clips:

    4:45 Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT): I want to talk about Jane Doe in Garza v. Hagen. As you know, she was a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor who came across this border, having escaped serious, threatening, horrific physical violence in her family, in her homeland. She braved horrific threats of rape and sexual exploitation as she crossed the border. She was eight weeks pregnant. Under Texas law, she received an order that entitled her to an abortion, and she also went through mandatory counseling, as required by Texas law. She was eligible for an abortion under that law. The Trump administration blocked her. The Office of Refugee Resettlement forced her to go to a crisis pregnancy center, where she was subjected to medically unnecessary procedures. She was punished by her continued requests to terminate her pregnancy by being isolated from the rest of the residents. She was also forced to notify her parents, which Texas law did not require. And the pregnancy, which was eight weeks, was four weeks further when you participated on a panel that upheld the Trump administration in blocking her efforts to terminate her pregnancy. The decision of that panel was overruled by a full court of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. It reversed that panel, and the decision and opinion in that case commented “the flat barrier that the government has interposed to her knowing and informed decision to end the pregnancy defies controlling Supreme Court precedent.” And it said further, “The government’s insistence that it must not even stand back and permit abortion to go forward for someone in some form of custody is freakishly erratic.” In addition to being erratic, it also threatened her health because she was unable to terminate her pregnancy for weeks that further increased the risk of the procedure—one study said 38 percent every week her health was threatened. She was going through emotional turmoil. And yet, in your dissent, you would have further blocked and delayed that termination of pregnancy. All of what I said is correct, hence to the facts here, correct? Brett Kavanaugh: No, Senator. I respectfully disagree in various parts. My ruling, my position in the case would not have blocked— Sen. Blumenthal: It would have delayed it. And it would have set imperiously close to the 20-week limit under Texas law, correct? Kavanaugh: No. We were still several weeks away. I said several things that are important, I think. First— Sen. Blumenthal: Well, I want to go on because I can read your dissent, but I want to go to— Kavanaugh: Well, but you read several things, respectfully—first of all, I think the opinion was by one judge that you’re reading from that was not the opinion for the majority. Secondly, I was trying to follow precedent of the Supreme Court on parental consent, which allows some delays in the abortion procedure so as to fulfill the parental-consent requirements. I was reasoning by analogy from those. People can disagree, I understand, on whether we were following precedent, how to read that precedent, but I was trying to do so as faithfully as I could and explained that. I also did not join the separate opinion, the separate dissent, that said she had no right to attain an abortion. ____(04:29) I did not say that. And I also made clear that the government could not use this immigration-sponsor provision as a ruse to try to delay her abortion past, to your point, the time when it was safe.

    21:15 Brett Kavanaugh: And I said, thirdly, that if the nine days or seven days expired, that the minor at that point—unless the government had some argument that had not unfolded yet that was persuasive, and since they hadn’t unfolded it yet, I’m not sure what that would have been—that the minor would have to be allowed to obtain the abortion at that time.

    Hearing: 2018 Day 2 Part 5 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 5, 2018. Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 1 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018.

    30:35 Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA): It’s my understanding that by agreement with private lawyer Bill Burke, the chairman has designated 190,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s records “committee confidential,” and by doing this, Republicans argue members can’t use these documents at the hearing or release them to the public. Unlike the Intelligence Committee—and I’ve been a member for about two decades—the judiciary committee doesn’t have any standing rules on how and when documents are designated “committee confidential.” Previously, the judiciary committee has made material confidential only through bipartisan agreement. That has not been done in this case. So this is without precedent. Republicans claim that Chairman Leahy accepted documents on a committee-confidential basis during the Kagan administration. It’s my understanding that those documents were processed through the National Archives, not private partisan lawyers, and Republicans agreed. Ninety-nine percent of Elena Kagan’s White House records were publicly available and could be used freely by any member. By contrast, the committee has only seven percent of Brett Kavanaugh’s White House records and only four percent of those are available to the public. No Senate or committee rule grants the chairman unilateral authority to designate documents “committee confidential.” So I have no idea how that stamp “committee confidential” got on these documents.

    39:10 Senator John Cornyn (TX): Mr. Chairman, I’m looking at a Wall Street Journal article, back during the Elena Kagan nomination. It says, document production from Elena Kagan’s years in the Clinton White House counsel’s office was supervised by Bruce Lindsey, whose White House tenure overlapped with Ms. Kagan. Bill Clinton designated Mr. Lindsey to supervise records from his presidency in cooperation with the National Archives and Records Administration under the Presidential Records Act. So President Bush, by choosing Mr. Burke, is doing exactly what President Clinton did in choosing Bruce Lindsey for that same purpose.

    1:51:22 Brett Kavanaugh: My religious beliefs have no relevance to my judging. I judge based on the Constitution and laws of the United States. I take an oath to do that, and for 12 years I’ve lived up to that oath. At the same time, of course, as you point out, I am religious, and I am a Catholic, and I grew up attending Catholic schools. And the Constitution of the United States foresaw that religious people or people who are not religious are all equally American. As I’ve said in one of my opinions, the Newdow opinion, no matter what religion you are or no religion at all, we’re all equally American, and the Constitution of the United States also says in Article Six, no religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. That was an important provision to have in the founding Constitution to ensure that there was not discrimination against people who had a religion or people who didn’t have a religion. It’s a foundation of our country. We’re all equally American.

    Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 2 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. 22:30 Senator Mike Lee (UT): What you were asked about was whether or not you were involved in crafting the policies that would govern detention of enemy combatants. Is that right? Brett Kavanaugh: That’s correct. Sen. Lee: And that was a classified program, classified at a very high level, presumably compartmentalized such that you would have had to have been read into that program in order to participate in that process. Is that right? Kavanaugh: I believe that’s correct. Read in. I wasn’t necessarily using the formal sense of that, but what I meant is I was not a part of that program. Sen. Lee: Okay. But that is a binary issue. You were either involved in the development of that policy or you were not. Kavanaugh: That’s correct. Sen. Lee: And you were not. Kavanaugh: That’s correct. Sen. Lee: And Tim Flanigan, who was, I believe, at the time the White House counsel. Kavanaugh: He was the deputy counsel. Sen. Lee: The deputy counsel. Has confirmed that you were not involved in that. Kavanaugh: That’s correct. Sen. Lee: We have your word and the word of the then-deputy White House counsel. Then, there is a separate issue. Well, I guess one could argue a related issue, but a separate— Protesters: [unclear] Unknown Speaker: ____(01:17—I don’t know if it’s worth it, but he said something that got read into it. I don’t know whether people understand what it means.) Sen. Lee: I assume that won’t be counted against me, there. Unknown Speaker: It will be counted against you. Sen. Lee: Oh, okay. All right, well, I’ll have to speak more quickly then. When we talk about being read into, that is a colloquial term that we sometimes refer to. It’s government speak that talks about being cleared to discuss certain classified matters. In any event, you were not brought into the development of this policy. Kavanaugh: That’s correct. Sen. Lee: Secondly, there was a separate, arguable related, but a distinct issue involving a meeting where you were asked for your opinion about how Justice Kennedy might react to certain legal arguments that people in the administration were pushing. Is that right? Kavanaugh: That’s correct. Sen. Lee: And you answered that question. Kavanaugh: I said that indefinite detention of an American citizen without access to a lawyer, which at the time was what was happening in that particular case, would never fly with Justice Kennedy. Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 3 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 4 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018.

    18:25 Senator Jeff Flake (AZ): Specifically, what impact does technology have on the Fourth and the First Amendments? Brett Kavanaugh: So I think the Carpenter case explains that once upon a time if a piece of information of yours ended up in the hands of a third party, and the government got a third party, that really wasn’t of any effect on your privacy. But now when all of our data is in the hands of a business, a third party, and the government obtains all your data, all your emails, all your tax, all your information, your financial transactions, your whole life is in the hands of a data company, and the government gets that, your privacy is very well affected. And that’s the importance, I think, of the Carpenter decision is that it recognizes that change in understanding of our understandings of privacy, and I think going forward, that’s going to be a critical issue.

    1:27:10 Brett Kavanaugh: One of the things that we have to do as judges, as I’ve emphasized many times in this hearing, is maintain the independence of the federal judiciary, independence from politics, independence from political influence or public pressure or public influence. And part of that, part of the canons for federal judges, federal judiciary, is that we don’t attend political rallies, we’re not allowed to donate to political campaigns, support political candidates, put bumper stickers on our cars, signs in our yards. And one of the things I decided—we are allowed, technically, to vote, but one of the things I decided after I voted in the first election, and I read something about how the second Justice Harlan decided not to vote in elections because he thought that reinforced the independence that he felt as a judge. And I thought about that, and I decided to follow that lead. I’m not saying my approach is right, and other judges take a different approach on that, and I fully respect that. But for me it just felt more consistent for me, with the independence of the judiciary, not to vote, because I’ve always considered voting a sacred responsibility and one in which I think very deeply about the policies I’m supporting and the people I’m supporting, and that seemed almost as if I were taking policy views, at least to myself, into the voting booth, and I didn’t want to do that as a judge. So I decided to follow the lead of the second Justice Harlan. I’ll be the first to say I’m not the second Justice Harlan. He was a great justice on the Supreme Court and someone, of course, who I would be—if I were to be confirmed—honored to be on that Court and follow in his lead. Senator John Kennedy (LA): So you don’t vote in political elections. Kavanaugh: I do not vote in political elections. Sen. Kennedy: Interesting.

    Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 5 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 6 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. Hearing: 2018 Day 3 Part 7 Kavanaugh Judicial Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. Hearing: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Hearing, Professor Blasey Ford Testimony, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 27, 2018. 3:37 Dr. Christine Blasey Ford: When I got to the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room/family room-type area on the first floor of the house. I drank one beer. Brett and Mark were visibly drunk. Early in the evening, I went up a very narrow set of stairs, leading from the living room to a second floor to use the restroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind, into a bedroom across from the bathroom. I couldn’t see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed, and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding into me. I yelled, hoping that someone downstairs might hear me. And I tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was very inebriated and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit underneath my clothing. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They seemed to be having a very good time. Mark seemed ambivalent at times, urging Brett on, and at times telling him to stop. A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not. During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of me. And the last time that he did this, we toppled over, and Brett was no longer on top of me. I was able to get up and run out of the room. Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. I ran inside the bathroom and locked the door. I waited until I heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom, laughing, and loudly walked down the narrow stairway, pinballing off the walls on the way down. I waited, and when I did not hear them come back up the stairs, I left the bathroom, went down the same stairwell, through the living room, and left the house. I remember being on the street and feeling this enormous sense of relief that I escaped that house and that Brett and Mark were not coming outside after me. Hearing: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Hearing, Professor Blasey Ford Testimony, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 27, 2018. 1:22:10 Senator Dick Durbin (IL): Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you? Dr. Christine Blasey Ford: 100 percent. Hearing: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Hearing, Judge Kavanaugh Testimony, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 27, 2018.

    10:04 Brett Kavanaugh: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus.

    18:04 Brett Kavanaugh: From 2001 to 2006 I worked for President George W. Bush in the White House. As staff secretary, I was by President Bush’s side for three years and was entrusted with the nation’s most sensitive secrets. I travelled on Air Force One all over the country and the world with President Bush. I went everywhere with him, from Texas to Pakistan, from Alaska to Australia, from Buckingham Palace to the Vatican. Three years in the West Wing, five and a half years in the White House.

    2:57:20 Senator John Kennedy (LA): None of these allegations are true. Brett Kavanaugh: Correct. Sen. Kennedy: No doubt in your mind. Kavanaugh: Zero. I’m 100 percent certain. Sen. Kennedy: Not even a scintilla. Kavanaugh: Not a scintilla. One hundred percent certain, Senator. Sen. Kennedy: Do you swear to God? Kavanaugh: I swear to God.

    Meeting: Meeting on Brett Kavanaugh Nomination, Senate Judiciary Committee, September 28, 2018. 4:12:55 Senator Jeff Flake (AZ): I have been speaking with a number of people on the other side. We’ve had conversations ongoing for a while with regard to making sure that we do due diligence here. And I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week in order to let the FBI continue—to do an investigation, limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there, and a limit in time to no more than one week. And I will vote to advance the bill to the floor, with that understanding. Community Suggestions

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    Music Presented in This Episode

    Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)