News Digest – August 15, 2017

In the news last week was the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, horrifying White Supremacist-fueled violence in Charlottesville, and the President’s equally horrifying response.

North Korea

President Trump raised the specter of nuclear warfare with North Korea this week when he threatened to respond to any endangering acts with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”  Despite bipartisan criticism – including condemnation from Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen – Trump ratcheted up the rhetoric by later saying “maybe [his] statement wasn’t tough enough.”

Charlottesville

Maryland leaders react to domestic terrorism in Charlottesville.  

Senator Cardin: “The President must be clear and condemn the hate-filled rhetoric, racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic and xenophobic actions from his supporters. Neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremacists and all the haters need to stop. They will not tear our country apart. What is good and just in America is stronger and will prevail.”

Senator Van Hollen: “Hate kills. No ambiguity. One of John F. Kennedy’s favorite quotes was “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” We must speak out and condemn racism, neo-nazism and white supremacy in all their forms.”

Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2) on Trump’s reaction: “Saddened by the events in Charlottesville and confused by the President’s response. He needs to clearly and directly condemn white supremacism, the KKK, neo-Nazis. It shouldn’t be that hard.”

Representative Cummings (MD-7):  “We must recognize that what happened in Charlottesville is not new. It is the latest manifestation of a long history of hatred that continues to fester in this country, enabled now more than it has been for generations. Our words of condemnation must be followed by actions to ensure those responsible for white supremacist violence are held to account and brought to justice.”

Trump’s “Deregulation Teams”

President Trump’s assault on Obama-era regulations isn’t sitting well with some House Democrats, who asked the White House on Monday for documents to shed light on the president’s regulatory task force.  Federal agencies are turning to people with “deep industry ties.”  A full vetting of industry connections has been difficult because some agencies have declined to provide information about the appointees — not even their names.  

“It is unacceptable for federal agencies to operate in such a clandestine and unaccountable manner especially when the result could be the undoing of critical public health and safety protections.”  wrote top Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, including Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7).  More here; here; and here.

Trump Conflicts of Interest

House Democrats want to know how many taxpayer dollars are flowing to Trump Organization businesses or affiliated ones.  House oversight committee Democrats are raising concerns that the President may be profiting from his office. They claim President Donald Trump’s decision to retain ownership of his businesses is problematic and can create divided loyalties, and have asked the agencies for responses by August 25.  “The President’s financial entanglements make it impossible to know whether he is making his decisions in the public interest or to benefit him or his family members financially,” wrote the Democratic members led by Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7); more here and here.

Cummings on Federal student loan data targeted in fraud

Federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges in a series of cases involving tampering with federal student loan accounts, including six instances of tampering by employees at a credit reporting firm. Cummings: “It is outrageous that these companies could not be prosecuted because of technicalities for conduct they must have known was wrong. We need to prevent loan servicing companies from engaging in these abuses and hold them accountable for protecting the students they are supposed to be serving.”

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