News Digest – Memorial Day Weekend

More Russia revelations, Trump’s disastrous budget, and the memorial for Bowie State student 2nd Lt Richard Collins III, who was murdered by a white supremacist on the UMD College Park Campus on May 20, 2017.

Russia

  • The Washington Post reported last week that Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked President Trump’s political organization to turn over all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records dating back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015.  Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, has already turned over more than 300 pages of documents to the committee.
  • Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (where Senator Cardin is the ranking Democrat) could take up a bill as soon as this summer to impose new sanctions on Russia over its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Former national security advisor Michael Flynn has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination and refused to comply with a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee.  More here.
  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) said that Flynn may have lied about Russia contacts in order to gain security clearance.  On May 22, Representative Cummings sent a letter to Representative Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, urging him to subpoena the White House for documents related to Flynn
  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) suggested that anyone involved in the Trump transition team should lawyer up.
  • Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2) introduced “Oppose Oversharing by Presidents Act” — otherwise known as the “OOPS Act” after Trump’s apparent release of classified information in conversations with foreign leaders.
  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) had this to say in the Afro.

James Comey

  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) said the House Oversight Committee should request — and possibly subpoena — White House documents related to the May 10 Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian officials where Trump referred to Comey as a nut job.  More here and here.
  • Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2) has endorsed a former GOP congressmen for the FBI Director position

Other Trump-related ethical and legal concerns 

  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) is pushing for the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to demand copies of any waivers of ethics rules allowing former lobbyists to work in the Trump administration.
  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) has “grave concerns” Trump companies may be accepting illegal foreign payments; more here.

Trump’s budget (aka fantasy “flim flam”)

  • President Trump released his first full budget, which was greeted with “open hesitation or outright hostility” from his own party.
  • Senator Van Hollen said the budget “looks like it was written by House Republicans on steroids.”
  • Senator Cardin said the budget was “dead on arrival
  • Representative Sarbanes (MD-3) called the budget “draconian”
  • Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2) had this to say about Trump’s plans to cut funds for Chesapeake Bay clean up: “It’s like motherhood and baseball.  It’s a resource, it’s part of our life. It’s part of what we do and what we stand for.”

Courts

Healthcare

Conservatives are losing hope that Senate Republicans can bridge their divide over what to pass in place of the Affordable Care Act.

Bowie State student’s memorial service

Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen attended a memorial service for 23-year-old Richard Collins, the black Army lieutenant and graduating Bowie State University student who was fatally stabbed last week.  Police have charged a white University of Maryland student with murder, and the FBI is investigating the stabbing as a possible hate crime.

“Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire”

The New York Times Magazine ran this piece on Jared Kushner’s property management empire, which includes some fifteen multifamily units in the Baltimore area.  Tenants have complained that the company is neglectful and litigious.

Cummings undergoes heart procedure

Representative Cummings (MD-7) had minimally invasive heart surgery at Johns Hopkins.

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