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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Current location: Greenfield
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 02:28 PM
Number of posts: 57,671

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Journal Archives

McMaster rebuked by Army in 2015 for his handling of sexual assault case

Source: The Washington Post

By Craig Whitlock March 2 at 2:44 PM

President Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was investigated by the Army and admonished two years ago for mishandling a case involving two junior officers accused of sexual assault, military documents show.

McMaster violated Army regulations by permitting the two lieutenants to attend the service’s elite Ranger School even though they were under criminal investigation, according to a report by the Army inspector general. The case against them was dropped months later after the Army determined the alleged victim was not a credible witness.

For his oversight of the case, McMaster received a light rebuke, known as a “memorandum of concern,” from Gen. Daniel Allyn, the Army’s vice chief of staff, in February 2015. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the documents from the Army under the Freedom of Information Act.

“I am disappointed with your actions,” Allyn wrote in the memorandum, which was not included in McMaster’s personnel file. “As a senior leader in the United States Army, you are expected and required to understand and comply with all laws and regulations.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/mcmaster-rebuked-by-army-in-2015-for-his-handling-of-sexual-assault-case/2017/03/02/e8421a8e-fe8b-11e6-8ebe-6e0dbe4f2bca_story.html?utm_term=.131b3c70c674&wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

Attorney General Sessions is recusing himself from any probe related to 2016 presidential campaign

By Washington Post Staff March 2 at 4:11 PM

By Karoun Demirjian, Ed O'Keefe, Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotosky March 2 at 2:37 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, including any Russian interference, officials said Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and did not disclose that fact to Congress during his confirmation hearing.

At that hearing, Sessions was asked what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign, and said, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Democrats had been calling for weeks for Sessions to step away from the investigation, though he had resisted pressures to do so. On Thursday, some high-level Republicans joined in saying the former senator should recuse himself.


Jeff Sessions asks and answers the burning question, but something doesnt smell right


The GOP's protective wall around Trump is beginning to crumble

By Greg Sargent March 2 at 9:50 AM

The news is breaking that two prominent Republicans — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz — are now calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from ongoing FBI investigations into Russian meddling in the election. This comes after The Post reported that Sessions twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, after having claimed under oath that he had not had contact with Russian officials.

The latest moves by two senior Republicans amount to a sign that, little by little, the protective wall the GOP has built around President Trump is beginning to erode, though there is still a long, long way to go before we can expect any serious oversight.

It should be noted at the outset that the new revelations are nuanced. The Post report says that Sessions spoke twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, including once in Sessions’s office. But at the time, Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Testifying before Congress during his confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked what he’d do if he learned that the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russian government. He said: “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 did not have communications with the Russians.”

In that instance, Sessions appeared to be referring to himself in his role as a Trump campaign official, meaning that he did not speak to the Russian ambassador in that capacity. Meanwhile, in January, Senate Democrats asked Sessions for a written answer to this question: “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Sessions responded: “No.” But there, too, the context of the question could easily have led Sessions to answer in his capacity as a “senior adviser” to Trump.


Republicans already think Obamacare repeal is a nightmare. It's about to get worse.

By Paul Waldman March 2 at 1:32 PM

President Trump’s hilariously candid revelation that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” may be remembered as the most succinct summary of the Republicans’ dilemma as they try to fulfill their endlessly repeated promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And now that things are about to get specific, what had been a dangerous situation for them is about to turn into a nightmare.

Republicans are set to enter a new phase, in which actual bills are written, debated and possibly even voted on. It’s going to be the equivalent of sticking their heads up out the foxhole so that the other side has something to fix their sights on. If they thought this issue was hard before, they haven’t seen anything yet.

Let’s start with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who apparently has a plan, one that’s going to go over so well that he’s terrified that anyone might get a look at it:

House Republican leaders have a new version of their major Obamacare repeal and replacement bill. They just don’t want you to see it.

The document is being treated a bit like a top-secret surveillance intercept. It is expected to be available to members and staffers on the House Energy and Commerce panel starting Thursday, but only in a dedicated reading room, one Republican lawmaker and a committee aide said. Nobody will be given copies to take with them.


Kansas Supreme Court finds state underfunds schools

Source: Reuters

02 MAR 2017 AT 13:00 ET

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state’s system of funding primary and secondary public schools falls short of an adequacy requirement in the state constitution.

The high court said it was delaying enforcement of its unanimous ruling until the end of June to give the legislature time to respond.

It warned that if the state fails to come up with a funding system that complies with the constitution by the June 30 deadline, the court will move to void the current method of school finance.

Kansas spends more than $4 billion a year on schools, with most of the money coming from the state general fund. During oral arguments before the court in September, lawyers for the four districts that filed the lawsuit claimed another $430 million to $1.4 billion would be required to meet the state constitution’s requirement for adequate funding.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/kansas-supreme-court-finds-state-underfunds-schools/

Republicans Hit Embarrassing Snag on Confirmation of Medicare Chief

By Ed Kilgore

March 2, 2017
1:57 p.m.

With all the confusion over Republican plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, the last thing the GOP needs is another embarrassing example of poor coordination between the Trump administration and its supposed allies at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Yet that’s what it got yesterday, when the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to confirm proposed director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, wound up in a 9–9 tie because too many Republican members were absent. Committee chairman Orrin Hatch is holding a second vote today, and presumably his staff will round up enough pachyderms to clear Verma for confirmation by the full Senate.

The snafu does, however, give opponents of Verma more time to ask questions about the direction she will take at perhaps the most critical sub-agency of the federal government (with the possible exception of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division). A health-policy consultant mainly know for her role in designing Indiana’s program to use expanded Medicaid funds for conservative policy experiments, which brought her into proximity to (now Vice-President) Mike Pence, Verma is drawing heat for that program’s “punitive” measures to get tough with low-income Medicaid beneficiaries.

Depending on what if anything ultimately emerges from Congress in the way of an Obamacare repeal-and-replace scheme, Verma could wind up with powers over the health-care system at least as vast as those exercised by her Obama administration predecessors, who approved Indiana’s experiment. For the time being, though, the Trump administration needs her in place to deal with intense public scrutiny of its administration of health-care programs, and the more technical questions about proposed Obamacare replacements and what will happen between passage and implementation of legislation.

Maybe the second time will be the charm for Verma in the Judiciary Committee.



'Be careful': GOP Intel chair threatens to 'investigate' reporters for persisting on Sessions

Source: RawStory

02 MAR 2017 AT 14:25 ET

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, warned reporters on Thursday that they could find themselves under investigation if they continued to ask questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ties to Russia.

During a press conference, Nunes dismissed calls for his committee to investigate Sessions following reports that the Attorney General may have lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he said that he had no contact with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

“I read about this in the newspaper and I see some of you talking about,” Nunes told reporters. “If you have those names (of anonymous sources), if you want to come forward as a whistleblower and bring those to us, we would greatly appreciate it. Because we would like to have those names, bring those people in.”

Nunes noted that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been a private citizen when he contacted the Russian ambassador and then lied about it.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/be-careful-gop-intel-chair-threatens-to-investigate-reporters-for-persisting-on-sessions/

Republicans are secretly reviewing their new health care bill inside a basement

THURSDAY, MAR 2, 2017 12:04 PM EST

Republicans are secretly reviewing their new health care bill inside a basement

House Republicans are taking impressive security measures to prevent leaks of their newly drafted health care bill


House Republicans are expected to be releasing their long-awaited health care plan on Thursday — the one that they say will replace Obamacare. The problem is, only other House Republicans are allowed to see it.

“We’re not hatching some bill in a backroom and plopping it on the American people’s front door,” House Speaker Paul Ryan had told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which authored the drafted legislation, told the Washington Examiner that only Republicans will receive access to the bill. It also must be viewed in the basement of a building that adjoins the Capitol, and no one is allowed to make a copy.

The measure will be reviewed next Wednesday in committee and expected to look similar to proposals that conservatives have already criticized. The bill will include replacing Affordable Care Act subsidies with refundable tax credits and converting Medicaid expansion into a block grant system controlled by the states.


Senate votes to confirm former Texas governor Rick Perry as energy secretary

Source: The Washington Post

By Steven Mufson March 2 at 2:09 PM

The Senate voted Thursday afternoon to confirm former Texas governor Rick Perry as energy secretary, brushing aside Perry’s one-time vow to abolish the department.

The genial Republican drew less fire from Democrats during his confirmation process than other Trump nominees, but Perry now faces many of the same tough issues over regulations, the department’s activities to slow climate change and potentially deep cuts in manpower and spending.

As Texas governor, Perry presided over a boom in all kinds of energy production, including wind power and shale drilling. Many of his supporters cited that record as evidence that he could help a similarly wide variety of energy interests.

But Perry’s foes criticized his tepid acknowledgment of climate change, his strong ties to his state’s oil and gas industry, and his lack of experience with the department’s main budgetary area, the maintenance of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. And they wondered whether he will be able to protect the department’s national laboratories and other scientific research against those who would slash the budget.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/02/senate-votes-to-confirm-former-texas-governor-rick-perry-as-energy-secretary/?pushid=breaking-news_1488482217&tid=notifi_push_breaking-news&utm_term=.2867f4c13c29
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