Tag Archives: committee

Coronavirus postpones major climate plan in Congress

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a bipartisan group formed at the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the 2018 midterm election, has been working on a plan to tackle rising emissions — the committee calls it a “climate action framework” — for the past year. It planned to release the framework at the end of this month. On Monday, committee chair Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat, said the release is being postponed due to COVID-19.

“As Congress focuses on the important mission of protecting Americans from the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided today to postpone the release of our climate action plan,” Castor wrote in a press release. “We will continue to work on clean energy solutions and a more resilient America — and look forward to releasing our plan when appropriate.”

The decision to delay the release of the framework, one of the only concerted efforts to mitigate the looming climate crisis in the House right now, is the clearest example yet of how COVID-19 has pushed climate policy to the backburner. Castor said she and her fellow committee members met with more than 1,000 stakeholders (community members, scientists, government officials, etc.) and reviewed more than 700 detailed comments before forming their climate policy recommendations.

One of those comments was authored by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the former presidential candidate and longtime climate hawk. In a December 16 letter to the committee, obtained by Grist, Inslee called climate change one of the greatest threats Americans have ever faced. “Confronting this challenge and realizing this opportunity must be our nation’s foremost priority,” he wrote. But Inslee has little time for climate action now; he’s busy battling the coronavirus in his state, which is ground zero for COVID-19 in the United States.

Some climate policy wonks have made the case that now is the time for ambitious climate legislation that creates jobs while decarbonizing the economy —a Green New Deal, if you will. But as Congress struggles to pass even a baseline coronavirus relief bill, it’s clear that climate policy has tumbled down lawmakers’ list of priorities for the time being.

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Coronavirus postpones major climate plan in Congress

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A bipartisan group of senators just agreed we need to break our addiction to carbon

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Leaving our fossil fuel-entrenched economy behind is looking more and more like a bipartisan goal. Case in point: A bipartisan Senate committee just apparently agreed that we need to decarbonize our energy system.

On Thursday, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on how to innovate the energy sector, and it took a climate-friendly turn. While the group didn’t reach a consensus on how to achieve “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” as promised in the brand new Green New Deal resolution, the conversation was nevertheless encouraging.

Near the end of the hearing, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat of Nevada, asked the committee if anyone disagreed with looking into an energy portfolio with the “outcome of decarbonization.” The room was silent. A few seconds later, Cortez Masto concluded, “I think that’s why we’re here. That is where we could set our long-term mission and goal.”

Leading up to that, the committee found plenty to agree (and in a few instances, disagree) on.

“It is time to push hard to bring down the cost of clean energy technologies like renewables, advanced nuclear, next-generation energy storage, and carbon capture,” said Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, the chair of the committee, in her opening remarks.

Even Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia — a Democrat who just earlier this week applauded President Trump’s line about the U.S. being the world’s No. 1 oil producer during the State of the Union address — appeared to get behind the eventual goal of decarbonization. “Breakthrough technologies will help us reliably meet our energy needs in the future while decarbonizing our energy system,” he said.

Tellingly though, he called for a focus on new technologies to suck carbon out of the air. The coal-state senator from  made it clear that he wasn’t ready to kick dirty energy to the curb just yet: “We must acknowledge that fossil fuels will continue to play an integral role in our electric generation.”

He also expressed concern over the economic effects of a transition to renewables on West Virginia: “We don’t want to drink dirty water. We don’t want to breathe dirty air. We want our kids to have a future. We really do. But they also realize they have to have a job to sustain themselves.”

In response, Cortez pointed to her state of Nevada. “Ten years ago, Nevada was known for gambling, entertainment, and mining,” she said. “Now we are an innovation state.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, also highlighted the promise of renewables. “There are 8,000 parts in a big wind turbine, and we’re prepared to make every single one of those [pieces] in Michigan,” she said. “You can do some in West Virginia, too,” she told Manchin.

But as Ernest Moniz, former Energy Secretary under Obama, said in his testimony to the committee, “Accelerating this transition will not be easy.”

Moniz urged the committee to make sure they’re not putting all their low-carbon eggs in one technology basket. “There is no single low-carbon, one-size-fits-all solution,” Moniz said. “What we need to do is have the full quiver of arrows for which low-carbon solutions can be fit to purpose in different regions of our country and in different countries.”

Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, emphasized the necessity of reaching zero emissions by mid-century while acknowledging the work that lies ahead. “With some reasonable success and failure,” Grumet said, “ I think we can actually provide a better future for our children, which has been the human tradition for 10,000 generations.”

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A bipartisan group of senators just agreed we need to break our addiction to carbon

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Science returns to the House

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Democratic control of the House means science will get higher billing in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which, despite its name, has been run by Republican science deniers since 2011.

Former Texas Rep. Ralph Hall was chair for two years before Lamar Smith (R-Texas) took over in 2013. Hall was like a warm-up for Smith’s reign, telling the National Journal in 2011,“I don’t think we can control what God controls” when it comes to climate and accusing scientists of manipulating their evidence. Smith took his chairmanship to new lengths, using subpoena power against scientists in an attempt to uncover a smoking gun in what he referred to as the “extreme climate agenda.”

The committee would have been in for major changes next year no matter what party controlled the House, because the 70-year-old Smith announced his plans to retire earlier this year.

There will be radical changes coming, according to Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat who is a ranking member of the committee and likely to become the next chair. A former chief psychiatric nurse, she would be the first House science committee chair with a STEM background since the 1990s, according to Washington Post reporter Sarah Kaplan.

Johnson has already laid out her priorities for the future of the committee should she become chair. They include “defending the scientific enterprise from political and ideological attacks, and challenging misguided or harmful Administration actions.” Another priority will be to acknowledge climate change is real “and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it.” And, lastly, she called to “Restore the credibility of the Science Committee as a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policymaking.” Democrats would have the power to investigate the Environmental Protection Agency’s changes to its scientific advisory boards and its use of science in regulatory policy, for starters.

That agenda will be a sharp break from Smith’s priorities. Smith regularly called hearings to investigate a debunked “pause” in global warming, a myth manufactured by skeptics, and laid the rubric for the EPA’s radical science overhaul that would have effectively stripped scientific reports from being considered in rulemaking.

I wrote a year ago about how Smith and his committee had become a polarizing force in the scientific world:

A change in House rules gave Smith new subpoena powers in 2015, unusual for the House science committee, and he has since issued 24 subpoenas, more than any other chair in the House during that time, with some going beyond the committee’s traditional jurisdiction over federal science research. Smith has convened a number of hearings to attack climate scientists, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Paris climate deal, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He helped to popularize the myth that global warming had paused, holding a hearing during which he demanded NOAA documents and redactions on its study refuting the idea.

Eighteen candidates with STEM backgrounds also won seats Tuesday, some of whom will bolster the House’s new ranks of science advocates.

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Science returns to the House

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Floridians who missed voter registration deadline because of Hurricane Michael are out of luck

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon. The third strongest storm to ever hit the United States, it brought 155 mph winds, heavy rainfall, and towering storm surges. While Floridians in Michael’s path were searching for refuge from the storm’s imminent fury, thousands of would-be voters missed the state’s October 9 voter-registration deadline.

In response, a coalition of civil rights groups including the Advancement Project, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union has filed an injunction in federal court against the state. Florida officials refused to further extend the registration deadline, despite issuing mass evacuations and closing down offices in preparation for Hurricane Michael. There have also been mounting complaints about “a mess” in the online registration system — with glitches that could have disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters. The lawsuit calls for the voter-registration deadline to be extended by at least one week statewide.

“Our lawsuit is about protecting the right to vote for people impacted by Hurricane Michael in a moment where state officials have been unresponsive and unwilling to do the right things,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Grist. “It is unreasonable to expect that anyone in Florida will have an opportunity to register and vote when you’re in the storm’s path.”

Considering Florida has a long-standing history of razor-close elections, as well as the high stakes of November’s upcoming election — where climate-related issues like toxic algae blooms and now Hurricane Michael are expected to take center stage — voters who were unable to register could have some political influence on the environmental burdens they and other Floridians face.

According to a new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists out earlier this month, the same communities that suffer from the burden of socioeconomic distress and environmental segregation — such as exposure to air toxins — also often face restrictive electoral laws. Researchers made the connection by examining Congressional election turnout and compared the effect of both socioeconomic, environment, as well as institutional factors on turnout.

“These cumulative inequalities add up and make it very difficult for those who are most in need of protecting their interests in their community from actually having a voice in the political process,” said Michael Latner, lead author of the analysis and a Union of Concerned Scientists fellow.

Researchers found that the lowest voter turnout happens in vulnerable communities and communities of color. “You get this cumulative effect such that you’ve got environmental injustice inequalities — that is, the burdens of environmental pollution and degradation — more concentrated among people of color and economically burdened communities,” Latner told Grist.

The areas affected by Hurricane Michael are some of Florida’s poorest. Gulf County and Franklin County have some of the highest poverty rates in the state at 23.5 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively. (Florida’s overall poverty rate stands at 14 percent, per the U.S. Census.) Calhoun County, just inland of where the storm made landfall, has a poverty rate of 21 percent. It’s also the county with the lowest median household income in the state — less than $32,000 per year.

“People who are economically depressed, in many ways, have less of a voice,” said Donita Judge, senior attorney and co-director of the Power and Democracy Program at the Advancement Project, one of the groups that brought suit against the state. “When some communities catch a cold, poor communities catch pneumonia. It’s always worse for them to overcome.”

This is not an isolated instance. Back in 2016, civil rights groups also sued the state after its refusal to extend the voter registration deadline during Hurricane Matthew. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott at the time. Scott is currently on the ballot for one of the state’s two seats in the Senate.

But Scott’s response ignores the fact that, historically, there are spikes in voter registration rates right as a deadline approaches. In 2016, after a court ordered an additional one-week extension of the statewide deadline to accommodate those affected by Matthew, more than 100,000 additional Floridians registered.

Of course, Florida is not the only state facing allegations of voter suppression. Texas, which has some of the worst voter registration and voter participation rates, rejected 2,400 online voter registrations before the October 9 deadline. In Georgia, 53,000 voter registrations — of which nearly 70 percent belonged to African-Americans — are in limbo after the state’s Republican candidate for governor, who is also its current secretary of state, began overseeing an “exact match” registration verification process.

On Sunday, Florida’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner authorized election supervisors in select counties to accept paper registration applications whenever their offices reopen. But considering that prolonged recovery efforts follow soon after devastating hurricanes, civil rights groups feel this “limited, confusing, and inconsistent” solution was insufficient.

As human-induced climate change continues unchecked, disasters the likes of Michael are becoming the norm. “From Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Michael, these past few years make clear that climate change is having an impact on our country,” Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said. “Election officials should do a better job at having emergency plans in place that safeguard the rights of voters.”

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Floridians who missed voter registration deadline because of Hurricane Michael are out of luck

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Russian trolls shared some truly terrible climate change memes

It should come as no surprise that Russian trolls, known for stoking the flames of America’s cultural divides, turned their attention to climate change during the longest election season of our lives.

A report released Thursday by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee — chaired by Texas representative Lamar Smith, a notorious climate denier — includes several examples of posts from fake social media accounts created by a Russian propaganda group called the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The report discovered more than 9,000 posts and tweets from the group targeting pipeline fights, fossil fuels, and climate change between 2015 and 2017. IRA’s posts were specifically designed to appeal to either conservatives or liberals, without any middle ground.

United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

The memes, which appeared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, were part of a “concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy,” per the committee’s report. (Side note: The report also claims that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups to undermine the U.S. fracking industry — a longstanding pet notion of Smith’s that lacks any substantial evidence.)

We’ve known for a while that the Kremlin has been poking its nose into environmental activism on the interwebs, thanks to a Buzzfeed story from October that showed how trolls seized on the Standing Rock protests. But the House report offers us some fresh examples of what they’ve been up to. To start with some pro-environment content:

United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

(For the record, no, the state of Iowa has not adopted a 100 percent renewable energy goal, but one of its utilities has.)

And here are two anti-environmental memes that highlight the apparent beauty of tar-sands oil:

United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and TechnologyUnited States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

In addition to their flair for raising hackles, it seems that Russian trolls have an eye for design. After looking at these memes, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve just been yelled at.

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Russian trolls shared some truly terrible climate change memes

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Trump Isn’t Enforcing His Plan to Avoid Violating the Emoluments Clause

Mother Jones

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In January, Donald Trump’s lawyer said that the Trump Organization would donate any profits earned at Trump hotels from a foreign government to the US Treasury. The move was supposedly an attempt to stay on the right side of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits US government officials from taking gifts or benefiting from foreign governments. Ethics experts noted that the pledge, issued by attorney Sheri Dillon, did not truly address this violation of the Constitution. Trump needed to divest his ownership of the hotels, they contended. And now new documents released by congressional Democrats show that Trump is not taking even his insufficient effort seriously.

Because Trump still owns his hotel properties and companies that operate hotels, anyone—a person or business here or overseas, or a foreign government—can directly line the pockets of the US president simply by reserving rooms or renting out conference or banquet facilities at a Trump hotel. Since the inauguration, several foreign governments have rented space at the Trump hotel in Washington, DC, and foreign diplomats have reported being approached by Trump hotel staff soliciting business.

To address the emoluments issue, profits from these sort of transactions involving foreign governments are supposed to go to the US Treasury. But it’s hard to determine what counts as profit. And under the plan developed by Dillon, the calculation of profit would be made by the Trump Organization itself, without independent oversight. And there would be no auditing to ensure that all money from foreign governments was covered.

How does the Trump Organization determine which foreign funds ought to be donated? Not too assiduously, it appears. The House Oversight Committee several weeks ago asked the Trump Organization for information on this process. In response, the company sent the committee a nine-page pamphlet that instructs staff at its properties on how to handle this matter. The pamphlet indicates that the Trump Organization is not enthusiastic about gathering this information and doesn’t want its guests bothered by any efforts to comply with the Emoluments Clause.

The pamphlet notes that the hotels should not calculate the profit from foreign patronage but rather estimate it. After all, it says, calculating the actual profit would take a lot of effort: “To attempt to individually track and distinctly attribute certain business-related costs as specifically identifiable to a particular customer group is not practical, nor would it even be possible without an inordinate amount of time, resources and specialists.”

The pamphlet presents a formula by which managers can estimate how much money should head to the US Treasury. In one example, a hotel that earned $10 million in revenue but had $8.5 million in expenses would be considered to have a profit of 15 percent. If it took in $500,000 from foreign governments, it should donate 15 percent of that revenue—that is, $75,000—to the US Treasury. (This basic formula does not take into account the complexities of actual transactions. For instance, what if a foreign government bought $1 million in services from a Trump hotel that was only breaking even? This would certainly benefit Trump, but none of these funds would end up being donated.)

When it comes to identifying foreign revenues, the pamphlet tells Trump hotel staff not to try too hard, for that could annoy the customers: “To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.” So, the pamphlet points out, the Trump Organization will not try to identify customers who do not inform the hotel that they are representing a foreign government.

The pamphlet, which you can read in full below, was released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee along with a letter sent to the Trump Organization on Wednesday morning. The letter, signed by Rep. Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the committee, complained that the company had failed to fully explain how it would avoid violating the Emoluments Clause.

In the letter, Cummings scolded the Trump Organization for its seemingly lackadaisical approach. “This pamphlet raises grave concerns about the President’s refusal to comply with the Constitution merely because he believes it is ‘impractical’ and could ‘diminish the guest experience of our brand,'” he wrote. “Complying with the United States Constitution is not an option exercise but a requirement for serving as our nation’s President.”

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

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Trump Org Pamphlet on Foreign Profits (PDF)

Trump Org Pamphlet on Foreign Profits (Text)

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Trump Isn’t Enforcing His Plan to Avoid Violating the Emoluments Clause

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Michael Flynn Is Pleading the Fifth

Mother Jones

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will invoke the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday and refuse to comply with a congressional subpoena, according to the Associated Press. The Senate intelligence committee had asked Flynn for documents in his possession that might relate to the committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election.

It’s not a surprising move—Flynn was not expected to turn over the documents without immunity, “because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so,” according to the AP. Last week, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the intelligence committee, prematurely said Flynn would not cooperate.

It’s unclear how Republicans will respond to Flynn’s decision. The intelligence committee could ask Congress to vote on whether to hold Flynn in contemptan option that would force Flynn to face possible fines or jail time if he continued to withhold the documents. “I’m not going to go into what we might or might not do,” Burr said last week when asked what the committee would do next if Flynn refused to cooperate with the investigation. “We’ve got a full basket of things that we’re willing to test.”

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House’s oversight committee are increasing pressure on Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to subpoena the White House for documents on how the White House vetted Flynn, which the committee asked for two months ago. “The White House is obstructing our investigation on the Oversight Committee, covering up for General Flynn, and refusing to produce a single document that Chairman Chaffetz and I asked for in a bipartisan letter two months ago,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (R-Md.), ranking member of the committee, said in a statement over the weekend. “I have prepared a subpoena that the Chairman could sign today.” Cummings says if Chaffetz doesn’t want to issue the subpoena himself, he should allow committee members to take a vote on it.

Chaffetz isn’t always so shy about using the power to subpoena—he asked for the FBI’s full investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and just last week demanded that the FBI hand over the Comey memos, which detail President Donald Trump’s attempts to curb the federal investigation into Flynn, according to an explosive report last week from the New York Times.

Update, 3:32 p.m. ET: Former Trump campaign associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone turned in documents Monday for the Senate intelligence probe according to NBC News.

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Michael Flynn Is Pleading the Fifth

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One Chart Shows How the Trump Tax Plan Will Totally Pay For Itself

Mother Jones

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Here’s the first quick-and-dirty estimate of how much Donald Trump’s tax plan would cost. It comes from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Oh please. This is a ridiculously pessimistic estimate because CRFB doesn’t account for the economic growth this tax plan will unleash. They estimate that productivity would need to grow 3.8 percent per year to make Trump’s plan pay for itself, something they scoff at. But that’s well within reason:

I don’t see a problem with that. Do you? Yes? That’s probably because you don’t believe in the power of the white American worker. That’s why you lefties lost the election.

Perhaps you sense that I’m taking this less than seriously. Guilty as charged. But if Trump himself doesn’t take his plans seriously, why should I?1

1Also, the eagle-eyed might have noticed that although the 1-page tax plan summary we got today was very similar to Trump’s campaign document, one thing was left out: it no longer claims to be revenue neutral. Funny how that works.

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One Chart Shows How the Trump Tax Plan Will Totally Pay For Itself

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Devin Nunes Is Playing a Familiar Republican Game Today

Mother Jones

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When a big story breaks while I’m at lunch, it can be a real pain in the ass. Instead of following it in real time, I have to rush around later trying to piece together what’s happened. On the other hand, sometimes this is a blessing, because by the time I get to the story it’s clearer what the real issue is. I think today is an example of the latter.

For starters, here’s a nutshell summary of what happened. Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, took the stage a few hours ago to declare himself “alarmed.” He believes that some of Donald Trump’s transition team might have been “incidentally” recorded during surveillance of foreign nationals. He won’t say who. Nor will he say who the foreign nationals were, other than “not Russian.” And as soon as he was done with his press conference, he trotted off to the White House to brief President Trump.

There are several problems here. First, Nunes didn’t share any of this with Democrats on the committee. Second, incidental collection is both routine and inevitable in foreign surveillance. Congress has had ample opportunity to rein it in if they wanted to, and they never have. Third, if this was part of a criminal investigation, Nunes may have jeopardized it by going public. Fourth, the chair of the Intelligence Committee isn’t supposed to be briefing the president on the status of an investigation into the president’s activities.

This is plenty to embarrass the great state of California, from which Nunes hails. But for what it’s worth, I don’t think any of this is the biggest issue. This one is:

He claims to have gotten the information personally from an unspecified source, and had not yet met with FBI Director James Comey to review the raw intelligence intercepts he was provided. Why would he go public without first consulting spies to see if what he had was actually worth sharing with the public?

Oh. This is one of those deals where the Republican chair of a committee gets some information; releases a tiny snippet that makes Republicans look good; and then eventually is forced to release the entire transcript, which turns out to be nothing at all like the snippet. We’ve seen this gong show a dozen times in the past few years.

My advice: ignore everything Nunes said. He’s obviously carrying water for Trump, hoping to drive headlines that vaguely suggest the Obama administration really was listening in on Trump’s phone calls. I gather that he’s succeeded on that score. For now, though, there’s no telling what this raw intel really says. Eventually the intelligence community will provide analysis, and committee Democrats will get to see the transcripts too. Then we’ll have a fighting chance of knowing whether it’s important or not. In the meantime, everything Nunes said is literally worthless. He’s not “probably right” or “probably wrong.” He’s nothing.

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Devin Nunes Is Playing a Familiar Republican Game Today

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House Democrats Demand Investigation of Trump’s National Security Adviser

Mother Jones

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On Monday night, all 17 Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee chairman, requesting that he either initiate a full investigation of Michael Flynn—President Donald Trump’s national security adviser who was caught misrepresenting conversations he had with the Russian ambassador—or “step aside and allow the Committee to vote on conducting basic oversight going forward.”

Flynn has been under fire since the Washington Post reported last week that he had discussed “US sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office,” despite claims to the contrary from Trump administration officials, including White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Vice President Mike Pence. Flynn, too, had previously denied discussing with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislya the sanctions levied by President Barack Obama in response to Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election during a series of conversations in late December. But a spokesman for Flynn told the Post on Thursday that “he couldn’t be certain that sanctions never came up.”

On Monday, Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser, said Flynn “does enjoy the full confidence of the president.” Less than an hour later, Spicer issued a statement saying that Trump was “evaluating the situation.” Monday night, the Post reported that then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House in late January that she believed “Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador.” The paper noted that she had “warned that Flynn was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.”

The House Democrats’ letter to Chaffetz notes that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, has repeatedly asked Chaffetz to investigate Flynn’s contacts with the Russian government and put forward the case for an investigation:

Grave questions have been raised about the fitness of General Flynn to serve as National Security Adviser and to continue having access to classified information. It has now been reported that General Flynn took payments of an undisclosed amount to travel to Moscow to dine with Vladimir Putin and celebrate RT, which US intelligence officials warn is the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet”; that he potentially failed to obtain the consent of Congress to receive those funds in violation of the Constitution; that he communicated repeatedly with Russian officials while that nation was engaged in an attack on our democracy and our presidential election; that he secretly discussed with the Russian ambassador, in possible violation of the Logan Act, sanctions imposed by President Obama in response to these Russian attacks; and that he may have lied about these discussions not only to the American people, but to his own White House colleagues, including the Vice President.

If you are not willing to initiate this investigation…then we ask that you not prevent us from calling up this matter at the next business meeting so we may request a vote on this and other proposals going forward on this matter.

Chaffetz, who was eager to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, has come under pressure from Democrats on the committee and his own constituents for going soft on Trump and not launching inquiries regarding Trump’s financial conflicts of interest. Cummings and other Democrats have previously asked Chaffetz for a committee investigation of contacts between Trump associates and Russia—and he has ignored these requests.

Read the full letter below:

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House Oversight Democrats Letter to Chaffetz Feb. 13 (PDF)

House Oversight Democrats Letter to Chaffetz Feb. 13 (Text)

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House Democrats Demand Investigation of Trump’s National Security Adviser

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