Economy & Labor Pelosi Is Wrong – Biden Has the Power to Cancel Student Debt, and He Should Culture & Media Glen Ford’s Journalism Fought for Black Liberation and Against Imperialism Environment & Health EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities Politics & Elections Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society Environment & Health Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots Environment & Health Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely The U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said Friday that the Treasury Department is obligated by law to hand former President Donald Trump’s tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, opening the door for Congress to finally obtain the documents after more than two years of legal battles and stonewalling by his administration. “It is about damn time,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, said in a statement. “Our committee first sought Donald Trump’s tax returns on April 3, 2019 — 849 days ago. Our request was made in full accordance with the law and pursuant to Congress’ constitutional oversight powers. And for 849 days, our request has been illegally blocked by a tag-team of the Trump Justice Department and a Trump-appointed judge.” Pascrell went on to applaud Attorney General Merrick Garland for “doing the right thing and no longer using the government to shield a corrupt private citizen.” “This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump’s crimes and impacts whether the Article I branch can conduct effective oversight to impose accountability on the Article II branch,” said Pascrell, referring to the legislative and executive branches of government. “Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency.” In a 39-page memo (pdf) sent to the Treasury Department, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) said that “when one of the congressional tax committees requests tax information pursuant to section 6103(f)(1), and has invoked facially valid reasons for its request, the executive branch should conclude that the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose only in exceptional circumstances.” “The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the memo reads. “Under section 6103(f)(1), Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.” In 2019, Trump’s Treasury Department refused to comply with House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal’s (D-Mass.) subpoena for the former president’s personal and business tax returns. The committee went on to sue the Treasury Department — then headed by former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin — over its obstruction, prompting Trump to file suit against the congressional panel in his capacity as a private citizen. Last September, the New York Times — which obtained Trump tax-return data spanning more than two decades — published a major investigative story detailing how he paid just “$750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency.” “In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750,” the Times reported. “He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.” Under a Trump-appointed federal judge’s order, the Treasury Department is required to give Trump’s lawyers 72 hours’ notice before providing the former president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, giving Trump a potential opportunity to stop the release of the documents. But that order is set to expire on August 3. In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the OLC memo “a victory for the rule of law, as it respects the public interest by complying with Chairman Neal’s request for Donald Trump’s tax returns.” “The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” Pelosi said. This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Environment & Health EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities Politics & Elections Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society Environment & Health Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots Environment & Health Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely Environment & Health Chomsky: We Need Genuine International Cooperation to Tackle the Climate Crisis Politics & Elections The Right Wing Wants Misinformation and Manufactured Ignorance, Not Democracy Former President Donald Trump, as a candidate for office during the 2016 presidential election cycle, promised to donate his entire executive salary back to the federal government if he was chosen to be president. Half a year after he exited the White House, it’s unclear whether he fulfilled that pledge. An analysis from The Washington Post cannot account for $220,000 of Trump’s salary donations. That amount is derived from the last six months he served in 2020 and the 20 days he served in January as president, during which time the White House made no formal announcements about where Trump was donating his income. The Post sought to find out whether Trump donated his last bit of salary without fanfare. It surveyed every major agency in the federal government to see if he did. No agency reported a donation from Trump. Trump frequently made a big deal about donating his earnings, at least 14 times, or once per quarter, during the first three-and-a-half years he was in office. But in the last two financial quarters of 2020, there were no formal announcements from the administration about donating the executive’s salary. Trump may have been upset that he wasn’t receiving praise for his donations anymore, suggested Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold. “In Trump’s public comments about this promise, you can see him getting more and more bitter about it — grousing that nobody is giving him credit,” Fahrenthold said on Twitter. “Then, in 2020, the White House stopped announcing any donations.” It’s likely that many observers saw his supposedly charitable actions for what they were: political theater. Indeed, as Trump purportedly gave up getting paid while in office, he was earning more than 1,000 times back in profits from his businesses, from which he infamously refused to divest before becoming president. Trump also reaped the benefits of millions in taxpayer dollars which were reportedly spent at several properties owned by the Trump Organization because of his frequent trips to them during his tenure in office. As a former president, Trump continues to receive a presidential pension of more than $220,000 per year. (He has not made any promises to donate that income.) Trump also charged the Secret Service more than $40,000 in the first few months after leaving office for around-the-clock security at his resort, regardless of whether he or members of his family were on the premises. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
A Democratic congressman has introduced legislation that would bar former President Donald Trump from being able to serve as speaker of the House of Representatives without being an actual member of that legislative body. A little-known quirk of the Constitution grants members of the House the ability to name whomever they want to serve as speaker. “The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers,” Article I of the Constitution states. In practice, there has never been a speaker of the House selected who was not also elected to serve in the House in the first place. But many Trump supporters have suggested that Republicans, if they win the 2022 midterm races, could name the former president to that role. After that is done, these Trump loyalists have posited, Trump could lead the call for impeaching both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. If they are removed from office successfully, Trump, theoretically as speaker of the House, would then become president, as that position is the second in line (after the vice president) to the presidency.
Former president George W. Bush recently took a break from painting portraits of the wounded soldiers he fed into the maw of dual wars 20 years ago to complain about the end of one of those wars. In a rare interview, given to German news agency Deutsche Welle (DW), Bush had himself a nice little sad about the fact that the Biden administration was finally shutting down U.S. military involvement in the two-decade bottomless pit that was, and will ever be, his Afghanistan conflict.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has chosen five Republican members to serve on the select committee to investigate the attack on the Capitol on January 6 — and a majority of those chosen are people who voted to overturn the election on that day. Under the rules of the committee set by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), McCarthy is allowed to choose five Republicans for the 13-member committee. This is similar to Pelosi’s original proposal to form the commission, with Democrats making up a majority of the group. A subsequent bipartisan proposal for the commission, meanwhile, had a 50-50 split between the parties but was blocked by Republicans, despite several concessions from the Democrats. McCarthy chose Republican Representatives Jim Banks (Indiana), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Rodney Davis (Illinois), Kelly Armstrong (North Dakota) and Troy Nehls (Texas) to serve on the committee. Of those picks, Banks, Jordan and Nehls were among the 147 Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying the electoral college results on the day that the deadly attack on the Capitol occured, encouraged by President Trump.
“If matters continue as they are,” I wrote on July 6 about vaccinations and the Delta variant of COVID, “a bright new line will be drawn between ‘Two Americas’: The Vaccinated vs. the Unvaccinated.” The Wall Street Journal this morning would seem to agree: “The Delta variant is hardening a divide between people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who aren’t, prompting hospitals to brace for new case surges and health authorities to redouble vaccination efforts. Now the most common strain in the U.S., Delta is spreading as public life resumes at restaurants, sporting events and other public settings across the country.”
Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law to the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, reportedly told investigators last month that she and her now-ex-husband had received perks in lieu of compensation from the company, a promise that was made to the couple directly by former President Donald Trump himself, years before he ran for office. The comments from Jennifer Weisselberg, first reported on by The Daily Beast, would implicate Trump in a tax-avoidance scheme by his company to compensate workers without having to pay taxes on their incomes. Weisselberg, who has spoken to investigators on multiple occasions, reportedly gave statements on June 25 to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the New York State Attorney General’s office, who asked whether Trump was involved in the maneuver to avoid paying taxes. Weisselberg answered that he was.
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A new analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows that the Republican-Democrat divide in COVID vaccination rates is stark — and growing. In April, according to the analysis, counties that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election had a 20.6 percent vaccination rate while counties that voted for Joe Biden had a 22.8 percent vaccination rate. By May, the red counties had a 28.5 percent rate of vaccination while the blue counties had a 35.0 percent rate.
Former President Donald Trump, who lost the 2020 election to now-President Joe Biden, has finally seemed to acknowledge that he will never be named the true winner of that year’s presidential race. While being interviewed by Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, Trump continued with his typical (and false) talking points on election fraud he has made over the past seven months, including bragging about his popular vote totals. “We were supposed to win easily, 64 million votes,” Trump claimed. “We got 75 million votes and we didn’t win, but let’s see what happens on that.”