Connect with us

“Providing documents to committee majorities without disclosure to the minority is unacceptable,” Wyden later added. “Providing access to documents for review by Republican staffers without notice to, or inclusion of, Democratic staff is also unacceptable.”

Wyden’s letter is the latest salvo in the ongoing partisan battle over Senate Republicans’ investigations targeting top Obama administration officials, including the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Those investigations are being helmed primarily by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Democrats have accused their GOP counterparts of using the probes to boost President Donald Trump’s reelection chances by targeting the president’s political opponents, most notably Biden.

Wyden listed several instances in which he says the FBI provided documents to the majority party without informing Democrats or giving them access to the information.

For example, according to Wyden, the FBI allowed Republican aides to view sensitive documents related to an FBI briefing Trump received shortly before assuming office, but Democrats were “not informed of or provided an opportunity to participate in this review.” A similar practice was followed for documents related to defensive briefings provided to the Trump campaign and presidential transition staff, Wyden said.

The senator cited an Aug. 7 letter from the FBI’s congressional affairs director stating that the agency has “surged resources in order to expedite the processing” of the GOP requests for information related to the Trump transition team. According to Wyden, the letter also states that the FBI’s compliance is due to “extraordinary and unique circumstances, and should not be construed as precedent setting in any regard.”

Wyden said FBI congressional affairs staffers “described these circumstances as an oversight that will be remedied going forward.” He also said that in a staff-level phone call earlier this month, those FBI aides “declined to discuss” whether the agency had determined that the Republicans’ investigations serve a valid legislative purpose.

“Nonetheless, the representatives of the FBI stated that providing this sort of highly sensitive information to committees without clear jurisdiction over such matters was indeed extraordinary and would not be repeated in the future,” Wyden added.

Reached for comment on Monday, a spokesperson for the FBI said the agency is working with both committees to provide information. “The same access is being provided to members of the majority and minority and to their respective staffs,” the spokesperson added.

Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley, noted that Wyden never requested such information from the FBI.

“Nevertheless, Sen. Grassley has frequently called on all administrations to respond to oversight requests from members of Congress’ majority and minority parties,” Foy added. “It appears that the FBI is committed to doing that with these requests — many of which date back to when Sen. Grassley chaired the Judiciary Committee.”

Though Wray is a Trump appointee, he has often angered congressional Republicans, especially when it comes to their oversight of the FBI’s actions before and after the 2016 presidential election, in which the Trump campaign was the target of a counterintelligence investigation related to Russian interference in the campaign.

Last week, Johnson issued a subpoena to Wray demanding all documents related to that probe. Two days later, Graham released a statement detailing a phone conversation with Wray, saying the FBI chief was “committed to being helpful — in an appropriate manner — by balancing the needs of privacy for Bureau employees with public transparency for the benefit of the American people.”

“Director Wray expressed to me his commitment to holding accountable those who may have committed violations of law or policy, providing appropriate due process sooner rather than later,” Graham continued.

Indeed, Trump has openly encouraged the Senate GOP-led investigations, even pushing Graham at one point to haul in former President Barack Obama before the Judiciary Committee — a suggestion Graham flatly rejected.

Johnson, meanwhile, has accused Democrats of seeking to undermine his investigations targeting the Obama administration and the Biden family, specifically the former vice president’s son Hunter and his role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agencies said Kremlin-aligned Ukrainians are seeking to interfere in the 2020 presidential election by pushing similar corruption claims about Biden, specifically naming a Ukrainian lawmaker, Andriy Derkach, who has sent information about Biden to top Trump allies on Capitol Hill.

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

Delhi sees deadliest month amid raging pandemic

p0906byb

India has the second highest number of Covid cases in the world. November was the deadliest month for the capital Delhi, which has been struggling to contain the virus, with more than 100 deaths on some days.

The death toll has overwhelmed the Indian capital’s crematoriums, where many families say goodbye to their loved ones in ancient rituals.

A lack of social distancing at the city’s markets has been blamed for the recent uptick. Some hospitals have run out of ICU beds – with pollution and cold weather adding to the burden.

Cases are starting to fall, but doctors warn that if people don’t take care, the situation could get worse again, as the BBC’s South Asia correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan reports.

Produced by Kunal Sehgal, Shalu Yadav and Greg Brosnan.

Filmed and edited by Varun Nayar.

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

India farmers protests: Thousands swarm Delhi against deregulation rules

201201004153 02 india farmers protest 1130 super tease

Farmers from the nearby states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh began arriving by tractors and on foot at the outskirts of New Delhi last week, where they blocked roads and set up makeshift camps, according to protest leaders. Some slept on the road or in their tractors, and several places of worship offered protesters food.

Police attempted to block demonstrators from entering the city. They fired tear gas and water cannons Thursday and Friday after protesters pelted police officers with stones and damaged public property, according to Manoj Yadav, a senior police official from Haryana.

The farmers are protesting laws passed in September, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says will give farmers more autonomy to set their own prices and sell directly to private businesses, such as supermarket chains.

But the move has infuriated India’s farmers, who say that the new rules will leave them worse off by making it easier for corporates to exploit agricultural workers who make up more than half of India’s 480 million-strong workforce, according to India’s most recent Census in 2011.

According to Ashutosh Mishra, the media coordinator of protest organizer All India Kisan Sangharsh Committee, which represents around 200 farming unions, tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered at each of New Delhi’s three borders — a line of protesters at one of the borders stretches for 30 kilometers (19 miles), he said.

Police have put up barriers and dug up roads to prevent protesters from coming into the city center to hold sit-ins. Mishra expects more farmers from around the country to join the protests in the coming days.

That’s despite New Delhi being a hotspot for Covid-19 in a country that has already reported more than 9.4 million reported cases, the most in any country bar the United States.

“We are trying to be weary of Covid but we don’t have an option — it is a question of life and death,” said Mukut Singh, the president of a farmers union in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, who is leading thousands in protest in his home state, and says he will join the protesters in Delhi later this week.

“We are the ones who have provided food, milk, vegetables when the whole country was in lockdown — we were still toiling in the fields,” he said. “It is the government who has put us at risk by introducing these laws during Covid.”

What the protests are about

For decades, the Indian government has offered guaranteed prices to farmers for certain crops, providing long-term certainty that allows them to make investments for the next crop cycle.

Under the previous laws, farmers had to sell their goods at auction at their state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee, where they were guaranteed to get at least the government-agreed minimum price. There were restrictions on who could purchase at auction and prices were capped for essential commodities.

Modi’s new laws dismantle the committee structure, allowing farmers to sell their goods to anyone for any price. Farmers have more freedom to do things such as sell direct to buyers and sell to other states.

Modi said increasing market competition would be a good thing as it fulfills farmers’ demands for higher income and gives them new rights and opportunities.

“The farmers should get the advantage of a big and comprehensive market which opens our country to global markets,” Modi said on Monday, as farmers protested in the capital. He hopes it will attract private investment into the agricultural industry, which has lagged as other parts of the country’s economy have modernized.

But farmers argue that the rules could help big companies drive down prices. While farmers could sell crops at elevated prices if the demand is there, conversely, they could struggle to meet the minimum price in years when there is too much supply in the market.

Singh, the Uttar Pradesh farmer, said that removing the price guarantees will make life tougher for farmers.

“There is a lot of anger among farmers,” he said. “We don’t get even the minimum support price that is presently declared — removing these protections and making it easier for corporates to enter will completely buy us out.”

Why it’s such a hot political issues

Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s 1.3 billion population, meaning farmers are the biggest voter block in the country.

That’s made farming a central political issue, with farmers arguing for years to get the minimum guaranteed prices increased.

Security personnel deployed to stop farmers from entering the national capital during a protest against the Centre's new farm laws at Singhu border near Delhi, India on November 30, 2020.
In a bid to win over farmers, Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said in its 2014 general election manifesto that all crop prices should be fixed at a minimum of 50% higher than the production costs. In 2016, Modi promised to boost the country’s agriculture sector with a target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022.

Modi and his government continue to insist that they are supporting farmers.

He hailed the new laws as a “watershed moment” which will ensure a complete transformation of the agriculture sector. But besides calling the move long overdue, Modi has not said why he opted to introduce these measures during the pandemic, which has caused India to suffer its first recession in decades.

“The Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has always stood in full commitment to resolving the problems faced by farmers and will continue to stand by them,” said Narendra Singh Tomar, the Minister of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare.

Tomar urged farmers to abandon their protests and instead discuss their issues with the government — although so far, Modi has shown no sign of capitulating to protesters’ demands.



Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

House steering panel backs DeLauro for Appropriations chair

200506 rosa delauro ap 773

While the full caucus typically backs the Steering Committee’s pick, an upset has occurred as recently as 2014.

Lawmakers and aides watching the race expect it will be decided on a second round of voting for DeLauro and Wasserman Schultz, with allies of the Florida Democrat hopeful she can eke out a win with the help of Kaptur supporters forced to throw their support behind another candidate. The Ohio Democrat is not expected to secure enough support on the first ballot.

Kaptur, 74, the most senior Democrat on the spending panel and the longest-serving woman in Congress, has won support from many members of the Congressional Black Caucus — a powerful bloc that typically respects seniority in leadership elections. Supporters of Wasserman Schultz say she could win if she can secure even some of those votes.

DeLauro’s supporters, however, are confident that the close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and long-time champion of the public health and education communities will be confirmed as chair.

Pelosi typically doesn’t get involved in steering races after she publicly backed Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) in 2014, who won the steering panel’s nod to become the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2014, only to lose the spot in a stunning caucus-wide vote. The caucus instead chose Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who went on to become Energy and Commerce chair.

DeLauro — the second-most senior contender for the gavel who controls the largest chunk of nondefense spending as the head of the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee — has long been expected to lead the appropriations panel and has a reputation for working with senior Republican appropriators like Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

DeLauro, 77, is a “work horse” and a “force of nature,” said Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), who’s pushing her colleagues to vote for the Connecticut Democrat, in an interview last month. “Her appeal is that she has integrity, that she has wisdom, that she’s such a hard worker and a strong fighter for the issues that she cares about.“

Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Military Construction-VA spending panel, has been expected to pick up support from freshmen, moderates and some members of the CBC. Supporters point to her robust fundraising for Democrats — particularly for vulnerable members that will be crucial to keeping the House majority in 2022.

Some Democrats said a disappointing Election Day that cost the party more than a half-dozen House seats underscores the need for change, including a more moderate candidate that could bring generational diversity to the leadership ranks.

“I think that in the aftermath of the election, it makes clear that the old ways of doing things just aren’t going to work anymore,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Democrats who supports Wasserman Schultz, said last month.

The three Democrats are vying to succeed retiring Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the first woman ever to lead the spending panel. All three have vowed to make the appropriations process more transparent and accessible to members, while supporting the return of earmarked spending to help Democrats secure cash for pet projects at home.

Heather Caygle contributed to this report.

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Trending