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U.S. House Votes to Take Trump Subpoena Fights to Court

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow lawsuits against Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn

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U.S., Trump, Subponea Fights
Authorizing the lawsuits would allow leaders in the Democratic-led House to go forward with those steps if they choose to do so at a later date. VOA

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow lawsuits against Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn over their refusal to cooperate with congressional subpoenas in connection with the investigation of Russian election interference.

Lawmakers want access to documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his probe into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation, and for McGahn to testify about what took place inside the White House.

Authorizing the lawsuits would allow leaders in the Democratic-led House to go forward with those steps if they choose to do so at a later date.

McGahn was a key witness for Mueller, but has declined to testify before congressional committees, complying with the wishes of the White House. Mueller’s team interviewed McGahn for 30 hours, with the lawyer telling prosecutors that Trump pressured him to try to get Mueller ousted from overseeing the investigation, a demand he ignored.

U.S., Trump, Subponea Fights
FILE – Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019. VOA

On Monday, the House reached a deal for the Justice Department to turn over crucial documents collected from the Mueller investigation.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the Justice Department would be opening Mueller’s “most important files to us, providing us with key evidence that the special counsel used to assess whether” Trump and others “obstructed justice or were engaged in other misconduct.”

Nadler said that all members of the Judiciary panel — Democrats and Republicans alike — would be able to see the documents, which he said “will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the president” by Mueller.

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Contempt vote

U.S., Trump, Subponea Fights
FILE – Former White House Counsel Don McGahn arrives at the Department of Justice in Washington, May 9, 2019. VOA

With the agreement, Nadler said he would withdraw a vote set for Tuesday whether to hold Barr in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the House committee’s subpoena for the information.

Nadler said he is giving the Justice Department “time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement. If the department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything we need, then there will be no need to take further steps.” But he said if the agreement collapses, it “will have no choice” but to pursue a court case to try to obtain the underlying documents from the Mueller probe that it is seeking.

Nadler’s committee and others in the House are pursuing several investigations of Trump, along with the obstruction allegations, including about his business affairs, taxes and administration policies during his 29-month presidency. Trump has vowed to fight all Democratic subpoenas, but Nadler’s agreement for information from the Mueller probe signals there also is room for negotiation rather than to let every dispute end in a legal fight in a courtroom.

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Impeachment question

U.S., Trump, Subponea Fights
FILE – House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., gavels in a hearing on the Mueller report on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 2, 2019. VOA

On Monday, the Judiciary panel heard from former White House counsel John Dean, who was instrumental 46 years ago in the downfall of another U.S. president, Richard Nixon. At the time, Dean testified before Congress about White House corruption that led to Nixon’s resignation as he was about to be impeached.

Mueller declined to exonerate Trump of obstruction allegations after a 22-month investigation. But he said that in any event Trump could not have been charged because a Justice Department policy prohibits filing criminal charges against sitting presidents. Subsequently, Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said criminal charges against Trump were not warranted.

About a quarter of the 235 Democrats in the 435-member House, along with one Republican, have called for Trump’s impeachment or the start of an impeachment inquiry. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted such calls, saying she prefers continued investigations by several House committees.

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Last week, the political news site Politico reported that Pelosi told Democratic colleagues that she does not want Trump impeached, but “in prison,” after facing criminal charges once he leaves office.

U.S., Trump, Subponea Fights
FILE – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters in Washington, May 23, 2019. VOA

Trump retorted, “She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.” (VOA)

Next Story

We Got Trump Elected, Shouldn’t Stop Him in 2020; Says Facebook Executive

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day

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FILE - President Donald Trump departs after speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House July 17, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth has claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump’s reelection in 2020.

Was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook’s hardware group.

“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.

“They weren’t running misinformation or hoaxes. They weren’t micro-targeting or saying different things to different people. They just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each persona.

He continued: “I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result. So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment”.

Donald Trump
Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump. Wikimedia Commons

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial (Galadriel) and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he wrote.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

“To be clear, I’m no fan of Trump. I donated the max to Hillary,” he tried to clarify his stand.

Bosworth said that it is worth reminding everyone that Russian interference was real but it was mostly not done through advertising.

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“$100,000 in ads on Facebook can be a powerful tool but it can’t buy you an American election, especially when the candidates themselves are putting up several orders of magnitude more money on the same platform (not to mention other platforms),” he wrote.

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day.

“Misinformation was also real and related but not the same as Russian interference,” Bosworth mentioned, admitting that Cambridge Analytica was one of the more acute cases where the details were almost all wrong. (IANS)