Connect with us

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Mike Memoli

WASHINGTON — House Republicans, with just weeks left in control of key committees, grilled former FBI Director James Comey behind closed doors on Friday as they wind down a year-long probe into key investigative decisions the agency made in the 2016 election.

Members of both parties were girding for a marathon day of testimony that came under protest by Comey, who had initially waged a legal fight against the Judiciary Committee subpoena as he pressed lawmakers to allow him to answer questions in a public hearing.

The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees have been jointly running the investigation largely behind the scenes this year, bringing in an array of former Justice Department, FBI and Obama administration officials to answer questions about whether political considerations drove the FBI’s handling of both the Hillary Clinton email probe, and a counterintelligence investigation into Russian attempts to interfere in the U.S. election.

Comey served as FBI director during that critical juncture. And while he has already testified before other House and Senate panels, some of President Donald Trump’s most stalwart defenders insisted on bringing him before their panel.

Comey has repeatedly said he was willing to answer questions in an open hearing. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., served him a subpoena on the eve of Thanksgiving compelling him to appear in private. Comey initially filed suit challenging the subpoena, arguing that Republicans were more interested in selectively leaking testimony to advance their own political narrative than pursuing the truth.

Ultimately, though, Comey reached an agreement with the committee to testify behind closed doors, on the condition that a full transcript of the proceedings be released within 24 hours.

“Jim recognizes the oversight function of Congress and has respect for the institution,” Comey attorney David Kelley told Ari Melber on MSNBC’s “The Beat” this week. “He wanted to be transparent. If you want to know about these investigations, great. Let’s talk about it publicly. That’s what this fight was about.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a member of the House Oversight Committee, said he wanted to ask Comey about information that may have been collected on Trump campaign associates before the Justice Department formally launched its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016. And he defended the rush to interview key witnesses — Republicans are also seeking testimony from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch — with just weeks left the current congressional term.

“For us to just pack it up and go home is not what the American people deserve and for the most part it’s not what they expect,” he said.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who will serve as Judiciary Committee chairman when Democrats gain control of the House in January, blasted Republicans for pursuing an investigation he called a “waste of time.”

“The entire purpose of this investigation is to cast aspersions on the real investigation with Mueller. There’s no evidence whatsoever of bias at the FBI or any of this other nonsense they’re talking about,” he said.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., a member of the Oversight Committee, said Comey was “the right witness for the wrong questions.”

“I think the Republicans brought him here to talk about Hillary Clinton. That’s a settled issue. Instead we should be talking to him about the ongoing Russia investigation,” he said.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who will serve as the top Republican on the Oversight Committee in the next Congress, cited previous testimony to the committee that claimed Christopher Steele, author of the so-called dossier into Trump’s ties to Russia, told a top Justice Department official that he was determined to stop Trump from becoming president.

Steele’s dossier was cited in a secret surveillance warrant against Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, though Democrats and Republicans have bitterly contested the question of whether dossier information was a critical part of the warrant application.

“I want to know when James Comey knew that, and more importantly, did he know that before they went to the FISA court with Mr. Steele’s work product. I think that’s an important question” he said.

Jordan said he did not know whether the committees’ Republican chairmen, Goodlatte and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., planned to issue a final report after interviews are completed.

“That’ll ultimately be the call of Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Gowdy.”

Source link

Politics

BREXIT LATEST: What happened today – and what happens next as Brexit D-Day looms?

Published

on

THE Brexit deadlock continues as Theresa May suffered a fresh defeat in the House of Commons today. What exactly happened today and what will happen next as Brexit D-Day looms?

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Rights groups sue Trump admin for making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico

Published

on

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Julia Ainsley

WASHINGTON — Several immigrant rights groups filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday challenging the Trump administration policy that requires asylum-seekers, mainly from Central America, to wait in Mexico — sometimes for months or even years — for U.S. immigration judges to hear their cases.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, said the policy is “in violation of the humanitarian protections to which [asylum-seekers] are entitled under United States and international law.”

Under the direction of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Customs and Border Protection officers began turning back asylum-seekers at the border between Tijuana and San Diego late last month. They began by denying entry to single men and recently started including families with children.

The plaintiffs point out that the areas where asylum-seekers are forced to wait in Mexico are experiencing record levels of violence. In Tijuana in December two Central American boys who were part of a migrant caravan were lured out of a shelter and murdered.

The judge could temporarily block the policy, teeing up yet another fight between the Trump administration and immigration advocates. The plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have previously used lawsuits to block Trump administration immigration policies, including the travel ban, family separation policy and a recent policy that denied asylum to immigrants who crossed the border illegally.

The Trump administration has said they are within legal bounds to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico under a provision of immigration law that says immigrants can be returned to the country from which they last set foot. Challengers, however, say that law should not apply to asylum-seekers.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

NBC News, MSNBC, Telemundo to host first Democratic presidential primary debate

Published

on

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Allan Smith

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will host the first 2020 presidential primary debate in June, the Democratic National Committee announced Thursday.

The debate could be held over two consecutive nights in prime time, given the anticipated size of the field, the DNC said.

NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo will broadcast the debate simultaneously on back-to-back weeknights in June, should multiple debate stages be necessary. The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms. The debate location and exact dates are yet to be announced.

The commission’s chairman, Tom Perez, said in a statement Thursday that he is “committed to running an open and transparent primary process,” which includes updating the threshold for candidates to qualify for a spot on the debate stage that places a premium on grassroots support.

According to the DNC, the lineups for each debate will be chosen at random, not strictly from how candidates are ranked in polls. To qualify, a candidate will need to either have at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least $65,000 individual donations from a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

If more than 20 candidates reach one of those two qualifications, the top 20 will be selected by using a separate method that rewards contenders for meeting both thresholds, followed by highest polling averages, and then the most unique donors.

There will be 12 debates in total over the 2020 Democratic primary season — the June debate is the first of six scheduled this year, with six more scheduled for 2020. CNN will host the second debate in July.

The expanded debate platform comes after the party was criticized in previous presidential primary cycles for having too few debates. A number of prominent Democrats, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar, have already announced their campaigns, with others like former Vice President Joe Biden and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders contemplating getting into the race as well.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending