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Tag: Congress

Senate Panel Approves Trump’s Nominee to Lead Homeland Security

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was approved Tuesday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, setting the state for a full Senate vote.

The committee approved the nomination with a vote of 11-4, the Hill reports. 

Plans to confirm the nominee last week were delayed because of nearly 200 follow-up questions from lawmakers.

Nielsen, the White House deputy chief of staff. is expected to proceed to a full Senate confirmation in the coming weeks.

If confirmed, she will lead an agency responsible for protecting America’s borders from terrorists and cybersecurity threats and heading up disaster relief efforts.

The department has been without a permanent leader since John Kelly vacated the position to move to the White House as Trump’s chief of staff at the end of July.

“Our nation is facing constantly-evolving threats, making it all the more important for strong, permanent leadership at DHS. Ms. Nielsen’s prior experience at the department, background in cybersecurity, and tenure with General Kelly will serve her well in this challenging position,” committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a statement Tuesday evening. “I hope the Senate will take up Ms. Nielsen’s nomination as quickly as possible.

3 Takeaways from Sessions’ Testimony about Trump-Russia Contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, said his hazy memory is to blame for any inconsistent responses he has given to Congress about contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians.

Here are highlights of his testimony:

1. Sessions now remembers attending a March 2016 meeting with George Papadopoulos.

Under Oath in October, Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had no recollection of contacts between the Trump campaign and Kremlin-tied Russians.

But when he heard about the arrest of Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos this month, Sessions said he suddenly remembered the aide proposing a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Frankly, I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions told the committee, adding that he believes he advised Papadopuolos to scrap a Trump-Putin meeting. 

2. Sessions dismissed accusations that he committed perjury.

“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” Sessions testified. “But I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied. That is a lie.”

Sessions’ failure to recall key facts about ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials drew heavy criticism.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., listed numerous times Sessions said insisted “I do not recall” while testifying before Congress in the past.

Sessions said the “chaos” of running a presidential campaign makes it easy to forget details about certain events.

“All of you have been in a campaign, but most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign,” Sessions said.

3. Sessions shocked many Republicans when he refused to promise the appointment of a new special counsel to investigation Hillary Clinton and her foundation.

Sessions said there was “not enough basis” to appoint a special counsel, prompting a heated exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who asked what it would take to make the appointment.

“You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are, and to evaluate whether it meets the standards it requires.”

Jordan said it “looks like” there was enough evidence for a special counsel, pointing to allegations that Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Convention funded the salacious dossier that outlines Trump’s ties with Russia.

Sessions responded: “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.”

Nominee to Lead Homeland Security Faces Senate Panel Vote Today

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, could be closer to confirmation.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the appointment, but Democrats have indicated they want additional hearings, the Washington Post reports.

Democrats have more questions following a Washington Post report that revealed White House officials were pressuring acting DHS Secretary, Elaine Duke, over an immigration decision. The Democrats wrote a letter to the panel’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, outlining their concerns. 

Johnson has not indicated responded to the letter, but it appears the panel’s Republican majority is ready to approve the nomination of Nielsen, the White House deputy chief of staff. 

If approved, Nielsen would proceed to a full Senate confirmation in the coming weeks.

Other Stories of Interest

TSA Miserably Fails to Detect Weapons at Airports, Alarming Congress

Airport crowdBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Undercover tests revealed that TSA failed to detect test weapons about 80% of the time, uncovering a slew of “vulnerabilities” at security checkpoints at multiple airports nationwide.

The results were shared with the House Committee on Homeland Security, which called the failures “disturbing,” ABC News reports

“This agency that you run is broken badly and it needs your attention,”Rep. Mike Rogers told TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

Inspectors “identified vulnerabilities with TSA’s screener performance, screening equipment, and associated procedures,” according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA is working on implementing eight recommendations to improve safety and effectiveness.

In a statement, the TSA said the agency “concurs with the DHS OIG findings and is committed to aggressively implementing the recommendations.”

“We take the OIG’s findings very seriously and are implementing measures that will improve screening effectiveness at checkpoints,” said Pekoske. “We are focused on staying ahead of a dynamic threat to aviation with continued investment in the workforce, enhanced procedures and new technologies,” he added.

Other Stories of Interest

Senate Investigators Receive Documents Related to Clinton Probe

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senators investigating former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail case received hundreds of memos related to the bureau’s probe of the former secretary of state and presidential candidate.

Sources told The Hill that the FBI began turning over memos to help Congress’ review of the case.

Included in the memos are details about the FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton for using her private email as secretary of state to transmit classified information.

The Senate committee’s investigation centers around Comey’s decision to absolve Clinton of criminal wrongdoing before the investigation was completed.

Other Stories of Interest

Conservative Republicans Call for Mueller’s Resignation over ‘Conflicts of Interest’

Special counsel Robert Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three House Republicans introduced legislation calling on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to resign over what they called “obvious conflicts of interest.”

The measure by Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) comes on the same week Mueller announced money laundering charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates. The former FBI director, who was appointed by the Justice Department, also announced he secured a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser for Trump, for lying to the FBI about trying to arrange a meeting between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

Gaetz, who wrote the legislation, insists Mueller has a conflict of interest because he was the FBI director in 2010 when several U.S. government agencies approved the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian energy company, to a Russian nuclear-energy firm. 

Republicans launched two congressional investigations into the sale last month.

“These deeply troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI. As such, his impartiality is hopelessly compromised,” Gaetz said in a statement, according to Business Insider. “He must step down immediately.” 

It wasn’t immediately clear whether other Republicans will support the resolution calling for Mueller’s firing.

JFK Files Prompt Calls to Publicly Release Files on Civil Rights Killings

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Tune into 910AM the Superstation at 11 a.m Friday for a discussion on the release of files on civil rights killings. 

The long-awaited release of secret John F. Kennedy assassination files has prompted a push for the FBI to release secret or redacted files on killings during the civil rights era.

Students from Highstown High School in New Jersey lobbied Congress to make the files public.

“This issue is not as prominent within the mainstream media, but it should be,” one of the students, senior Zabir Rahman, told the Clarion Ledger. “The families of the victims of these atrocious crimes deserve justice if they can get it and some measure of closure.” 

The students used the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992 as a model for what they called the “Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2017,” which would create an independent review board to coordinate the release of classified records on civil rights killings.

Many of the killings are detailed in FBI files that remain largely redacted. They include the KKK’s 1964 killing of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and the 1959 lynching of Mack Charles Parker.

FBI records on the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. also contain redactions.

Activists also are calling on redacted files relating to the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.

Civil rights lawyers said the largely secret files make it difficult to solve cold cases.

The measure to release the files was introduced in March by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, and is under consideration by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

So far the bill has received bipartisan support. Also backing the bill is Cynthia Deitle, a former FBI special agent who ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Cold Case Division.

“The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2017 is a crucial piece of legislation that must be passed by Congress and signed by President Trump,” she Deitle in a statement. “We as a society can no longer wait for vital records housed within the FBI to stay within their exclusive control. The federal government needs to release the records to researchers, academics, journalists and others who are devoted to finding the truth as to what happened to thousands of individuals who were murdered as a result of racially-motivated homicides. We have the ability, with passage of this act, to rewrite history and bring justice long delayed.”

Ex-FBI Informant to Testify about Obama-Era Nuclear Bribery Scheme

congress copyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has given the green light to a former FBI informant to testify before Congress about what he discovered in an undercover investigation about the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to buy uranium in the U.S. during the Obama administration.

The news comes as House Republicans announce an inquiry into the President Obama-approved sale of a Canadian uranium mining company, Uranium One, to Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom, the Hill reports

The Justice Department released the unidentified informant from a confidentiality agreement, nearly eight years after he began investigating the issue.

“As of tonight, the Department of Justice has authorized the informant to disclose to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as one member of each of their staffs, any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market, including but not limited to anything related to Vadim Mikerin, Rosatom, Tenex, Uranium One, or the Clinton Foundation,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.

The informant spent nearly five years digging up information on Russia’s efforts to grow its atomic energy business, helping secure a conviction against Russia’s top commercial nuclear executive in the U.S., a Russian financier in New Jersey and the leader of a U.S. uranium trucking company. Prosecutors said the scheme involved bribery, extortion, kickbacks and money laundering.