Subpoenas Point to Opening of Senate Hearings on Trump-Russia Issue
Developments on Day 106 of the Trump Administration:
Senate Committee Asks for E-Mails, Texts, Phone Records Over Trump-Russia Links
The Senate Intelligence Committee asks Trump campaign associates to hand over e-mails and other records of dealings with Russian officials.
The subpoenas have been made in letters in the past 10 days, said “two officials with knowledge of the contents”.
Roger Stone, an informal Trump advisor, and Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, said they had received the letters. Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn were also sent subpoenas, officials said.
The letters instruct recipients to list all meetings with Russian officials or Russian businesspeople from June 16, 2015 through January 20, 2017, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. They set a May 9 deadline for a response.
By May 19, recipients should hand over records of all communications — including e-mails, text messages, and phone logs — with Russian officials or businesspeople from the same period. Information is to be provided on any financial or real estate holdings related to Russia. Recipients should also list any meetings between other Trump campaign associates and Russians.
Page, Stone and Manafort are all under scrutiny in a FBI investigation that began last July. Flynn left as National Security Advisor, after 24 days in the post, over his phone calls to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It was then revealed that he received more than $55,000 from Russian interests and more than $550,000 from a Turkish representative with links to the Kremlin.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to hold hearings. Its House counterpart reopened on Thursday, in a closed-door session, after GOP chairman Devin Nunes suspended proceedings following the initial testimony on March 20.
Donald Trump with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, now under FBI investigation for links to Russia
White House Proposes 95% Cut in Office of Drug Control
The White House is proposing a 95% budget cut in Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The proposed cut, in an Office of Management and Budget document, is in contrast to Donald Trump’s campaign declaration that he would invest heavily in programs to curb the availability and use heroin and other opioids.
The reduction in the budget from $388 million to just $24 million could mean a loss of 33 employees in the office as well as the elimination of initiatives such as the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
The OMB said the Office’s programs duplicate those of other federal and state agencies.
Rick Baum, the acting drug czar appointed by Trump, reacted, “These drastic proposed cuts are frankly heartbreaking and, if carried out, would cause us to lose many good people who contribute greatly to ONDCP’s mission and core activities. I don’t want to see this happen.”
In March, Trump had spoken of plans to deal with opioids such as heroin, “This is a total epidemic and I think it’s probably, almost un-talked about compared to the severity that we’re witnessing.”
Jobs Surge in April, Unemployment Near 10-Year Low
US job growth surges in April as the unemployment rate drops to 4.4%, near a 10-year low.
Non-farm payrolls added 211,000 jobs last month after only 79,000 in March. There were significant rises in leisure and hospitality, healthcare and social assistance, and business and professional services.
The jobless rate, which dropped 0.1%, is at its lowest level since May 2007 and well below the Federal Reserve median forecast for full employment.
Analysts believe the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again in June while projecting that economic activity will expand at a “moderate” pace.
The Fed raised rates by a quarter of a percentage point in March and has forecast two more increases this year.
April’s increase continues the strong job market in the last months of the Obama Administration, but Donald Trump quickly tried to frame the report as the outcome of his still-to-be-defined policies:
Great jobs report today – It is all beginning to work!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2017
Trump Leaves Washington Again, But Avoids New York and Protesters
Donald Trump leaves Washington again for the weekend, but avoids New York City, possibly because of expected protests.
The press had anticipated that Trump would spend the weekend for the first time at Trump Tower, but the venue is his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump claimed that the choice of New Jersey was to cut costs, implicitly acknowledging the prospect of demonstrations:
Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2017
But observers quickly pointed out that remaining in Washington would save even more money, with no need to use Air Force One and to house, feed, and pay agents for additional security.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated Trump’s declaration, but avoided the question of why he had not stayed in Washington.
Trump has spent more than half of his 15 weekends in office away from the White House. His previous trips have been to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
2nd Army Secretary Nominee Withdraws
A second nominee for Army Secretary, Mark Green, withdraws his name from consideration.
Green — a veteran and GOP State Senator from Tennessee — has been criticized by rights groups and lawmakers about his past comments regarding minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Green said “false and misleading attacks” forced his withdrawal:
Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain.
While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the President the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world.
Trump’s first choice, Vincent Viola, the billionaire owner of the Florida Panthers of the National Football League, withdrew his nomination in February, citing difficulties in divesting himself from his businesses.
The first choice for Navy Secretary, Philip Bilden, also withdrew in late February because of financial and business issues.
White House Fires Chief Usher
The White House fires its chief usher, Angella Reid, the first woman and second African American in the position.
When the White House residence staff arrived at work Friday morning, they were told that Reid was no longer employed. A White House official confirmed that Reid is no longer employed
Reid declined to comment, saying only, “I think it’s best if the White House explains.”
Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:
Reid is no longer employed here at the White House. We left on very good terms and wish her the very best and certainly hope for great things for her in the future. However, it’s not uncommon you might have a transition of staff when a new administration comes in. It’s nothing more than that.
There have been just nine White House chief ushers since 1900. As the general manager of the building, the chief ushers
oversees all activities from butlers, maids, chefs, florists, and electricians to fiscal, administrative, and personal duties.
Reid, who previously worked for the Ritz-Carlton hotel group, joined the White House in 2011 under President Barack Obama.