News Digest – February 6, 2018

In the news this week, Cardin blasts Administration for refusing to impose new Russia sanctions passed by Congress, Ruppersberger criticizes release of Nunes memo, Cummings requests an investigation of State Department, and our members of Congress respond to the State of the Union Address.

Russia

  • Senator Cardin is among those blasting the Trump administration for refusing to impose new sanctions on Russia that Congress passed nearly unanimously last summer.
  • Former White House deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland withdrew herself from consideration to be the U.S. ambassador to Singapore. In December, Senator Cardin and Senator Cory Booker called for McFarland’s confirmation to be put on hold while Congress examined her role in communications between the Trump transition team and the Russian government.  
  • Democrats seek subpoena for DHS info on election hacking: “Russia attacked our states in the last election to help Donald Trump get elected president,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the Oversight panel’s ranking member, said in a statement accompanying a letter that all Oversight Democrats sent to Gowdy on Monday. “Why is the Trump administration now concealing from Congress documents showing exactly how Russia did it?”  More here and here.
  • Reaction to GOP Memo on Russia: Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger described the document’s release as “reckless” and a “disservice.” After reading both the Republican memo and a Democratic response that has not been released to the public, Ruppersberger said it was clear to him that the warrant application was based on “far more” than the opposition research; more here.

Reactions to State of the Union Address

  • Here’s Senator Van Hollen’s take on President Trump’s first State of the Union address.
  • Other reactions; Maryland lawmakers promise to fight Trump tooth and nail
  • Clip of Rep. Sarbanes’ reaction.
  • Congressional Black Caucus protested by wearing Black suits draped with a kente cloth or wore kente ties and bow ties and wore red and white buttons signifying support for the late Recy Taylor, who was gang-raped by White men in Alabama in 1944 but were never brought to justice for their act.  Rep. Cummings could not attend the SOTU due to his knee infection, but stated “the American people witnessed a failed sales pitch tonight.”

State Department

  • State Dept watchdog may investigate political retaliation claims after CNN report
    “Our staffs have been made aware of credible allegations that the State Department has required high-level career civil servants, with distinguished records, serving administrations of both parties, to move to performing tasks outside their area of substantive expertise,” Reps. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote in the letter sent Friday to the State Department’s inspector general.

Campaign financing

  • Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, has enlisted 159 members of Congress to sign onto H.R. 20, legislation intended to encourage candidates to raise small donations. Inducements include tax credits for donors and, for candidates, a federal match and access to broadcast time.  “We can’t stop the Koch brothers, but we can arm good candidates so that they can run an efficient campaign,” Sarbanes said by phone.

Quick Hits

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