Last week in the news: revelations that Donald Trump Jr. met with representatives of the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, Trump administration drops long-running plan to build new FBI headquarters in Maryland, and the Senate GOP’s ACA repeal gets into some trouble.
- The New York Times obtained copies of an email exchange between Donald Trump, Jr., and one of his father’s former Russian business partners, promising “very high level and sensitive information” about Hillary Clinton that was allegedly “part of Russia and its government’s support” for Donald Trump.
- Senator Cardin said the emails raise an “extremely serious issue [that] needs to be followed up on by Robert Mueller’s investigation and the Congressional Intelligence Committees immediately.”
- Senator Van Hollen said the emails were “troubling on a variety of levels.”
- For more reactions, check out the Washington Post’s piece on “the kamikaze tweetstorm that set Washington on fire.” (Both Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen make appearances.)
- Meanwhile, bipartisan legislation to impose sanctions on Russia has stalled in the House, with Vox reporting that the Trump administration is “trying to put the kibosh” on the bill that Senator Cardin helped draft.
- Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen also urged the Trump administration not to return a Maryland compound to Russia. The Obama administration closed the compound as punishment for Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election
- Representative Cummings (MD-7), in statement on Trump Jr.’s emails, says “This is a sad day for our country.”
- Cummings sent letter to Trump Jr., former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, requesting information about their meeting with a Russian attorney who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton; more here.
- Representative Sarbanes (MD-3) on Trump Jr.: “I believe we also need an independent commission to thoroughly investigate the political and public policy implications of Russian hacking of our election and collusion by the Trump campaign.”
- Senate Republican leaders revealed a new proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the bill is already in jeopardy, with at least two Republican senators – moderate Susan Collins of Maine and conservative Rand Paul of Kentucky – saying they oppose the legislation.
- Here’s a Washington Post graphic depicting where various Republicans stand.
- The latest draft would allow insurers to offer bare-bones policies without coverage for preventive care or mental health, provide subsidies for lower- and middle-income Americans to buy plans on the private market, and make deep cuts to Medicaid.
- Senator Cardin criticized the bill for letting states “opt out of essential health benefits” and “institute annual and lifetime caps on coverage,” “while gutting Medicaid” and “rolling back protections for women’s health.”
- Senator Van Hollen challenged GOP claims that the amendments improved the measure, saying Republicans have “only made it worse.”
- Christopher Wray, President Trump’s pick to replace James Comey as the head of the FBI, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing. Here’s more about Wray, whose nomination is currently scheduled for a committee vote on July 20.
- In other FBI news, Maryland’s congressional delegation blasted the Trump administration’s decision to suspend the search for a new headquarters for the agency. Greenbelt and Landover had been considered finalists for the new building; more here.
- Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2) statement on decision to cancel plans for new FBI HQ.
Trump Conflicts (other than Russia)
- In House oversight committee, Representative Cummings (MD-7) investigates HUD Brooklyn housing co-owned by Trump for possible conflicts of interest; more here; text of his letter to Trump and HUD Secretary Ben Carson is here.
- Trump never stepped away from several business as he claimed; Cummings stated in response, ““I agreed with President Trump when he said that no one is above the law. That principle applies to him as well. He must fix this.”
- Representative Cummings (MD-7) co-sponsors bill to ensure that federal employees victimized by discrimination would receive stronger protections, while those found to have discriminated would face stronger repercussions; bill passes House; similar bill never brought before a full Senate last year.
Representatives Ruppersberger (MD-2) and Delany (MD-6) and Senators Cardin and Van Hollen call on Trump to protect America’s chemical and biological defenses