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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

Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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Trump, Obama, Climate
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)