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National Govt & Politics
Говорит Москва: Democrats put focus on Russia, Trump
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Говорит Москва: Democrats put focus on Russia, Trump

Говорит Москва: Democrats put focus on Russia, Trump

Говорит Москва: Democrats put focus on Russia, Trump

Democrats in the U.S. House will try to send an unmistakable message to President Donald Trump on the issue of relations with Russia this week on Capitol Hill, bringing up a series of bills on the House floor dealing with Russia and Vladimir Putin, including a plan which demands the public release of any report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

"This transparency is a fundamental principle necessary to ensure that government remains accountable to the people," a series of key Democrats said about the resolution on the Mueller inquiry.

The Russian legislative blitz comes as Democrats on a series of House committees have stepped up their requests for information from the White House and the Trump Administration on issues related to the Russia investigation and the Mueller probe.

So far, Democrats say they aren't getting much in the way of help from the White House on any of their investigative efforts.

"It's like, zero," said House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). "We can't get witnesses, they don't want us to talk to witnesses."

Among the Russia-related bills on the schedule this week in the House:

+ The "KREMLIN Act," a bipartisan bill which would require the Director of National Intelligence - already reportedly in hot water with the President for saying that North Korea probably wouldn't give up its nuclear arsenal - to submit to Congress a new round of intelligence assessments on Russia and its leaders. "The Kremlin’s efforts to sabotage our democracy and those of our allies across Europe are undeniable," said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), who has sponsored this bill with fellow Intelligence Committee member Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT). 

Earlier this year, DNI Dan Coats said of Russia: "We assess that Moscow will continue pursuing a range of objectives to expand its reach, including undermining the US-led liberal international order, dividing Western political and security institutions, demonstrating Russia’s ability to shape global issues, and bolstering Putin’s domestic legitimacy."

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House

+ The Vladimir Putin Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill which again asks the U.S. Intelligence Community to weigh in with evidence about the Russian government, and expressing the sense of Congress 'that the United States should do more to expose the corruption of Vladimir Putin.'

"I am proud to cosponsor this bill which aims to identify Putin and his allies for who they are: nefarious political actors undermining democracies," said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who teamed up with Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) on this measure.

"Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia," President Trump tweeted last July, after his controversial summit with Putin in Finland. "They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!"

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Russia

+ A bipartisan bill to block any move by the U.S. Government to recognize the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia and Vladimir Putin. This is another measure meant to put public pressure on the President, who has been somewhat uneven in public statements on his feelings about Russia's move to take Crimea, as well as the ongoing proxy war being supported by Moscow in areas of eastern Ukraine, and how the U.S. should respond - even as his administration has leveled new economic sanctions against Moscow.

In November of 2018, the President canceled a scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20 Summit in Argentina, after Russian naval forces seized several Ukrainian ships and their crews.

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Trump

+ A bipartisan resolution calling for 'accountability and justice' surrounding the assassination of Russian activist Boris Nemtsov, who was shot and killed in Moscow in 2015. Lawmakers in both parties have urged the Trump Administration to sanction those involved in the murder, as the measure also calls for an international investigation into his death. "Boris Nemtsov had a vision for a democratic and free Russia. Sadly, that put him right in Putin’s cross hairs," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). This not just a House effort, as there is a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

"Putin's media and surrogates called Boris Nemtsov an 'enemy of the people,'" said Michael McFaul, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia under President Obama, and a frequent critic of President Trump.

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Nemtsov

+ Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.  While the four previous legislative measures have bipartisan support, the final piece of this "Russia" week in the U.S. House might create a bit of a tussle on the floor of the House, as Democrats move to put GOP lawmakers on the record about whether they want to make any report from the Special Counsel public. 

Under the Special Counsel law, there is no guarantee that the Mueller report will ever see the light of day - the Special Counsel submits a report to the U.S. Attorney General - in this case, William Barr - who is then authorized to summarize that to Congress. 

That's different than back during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when independent counsel Ken Starr was able to send Congress volumes and volumes of evidence - knowing that all of it would be made public.

In testimony before the Senate earlier this year, Barr did not expressly commit to releasing any report, saying "my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision."

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News

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  • After 79 years of marriage, an Illinois couple are still living a sweet life. >> Read more trending news  Curtis Peters and Virginia Gregory were married in Knoxville, Iowa, on May 18, 1940, according to Iowa marriage records on Ancestry.com. Curtis Peters is now 100, and Virginia Peters is 103, and they celebrated their anniversary last week.  Their hearts have melted ever since their marriage, and they share a Hershey’s chocolate bar daily, according to WQAD. “Chocolate keeps him going, and he keeps her going, they love each other very much,” the couple’s daughter, Susan Peters Cathoir, told the television station. The couple moved from Iowa to a nursing home in Illinois to be closer to Cathoir, the fourth of the Peters’ five children. Cathoir told “Today” there was always chocolate around the home when she was growing up. Cathoir said her parents even melted Hershey’s bars so the family could dip their ice cream into the chocolate. The couple even took the family on a bus trip from Iowa to Pennsylvania in the late 1950s to visit Hershey Park (now Hersheypark) to see how their favorite sweet was made, according to “Today.” The couple met while living in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where they attended the Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa). After their marriage, Curtis Peters was a self-employed painter in Waterloo, while Virginia Peters was a teacher, WQAD reported. “It’s a long, long time, but they are good times,” Virginia Peters told the television station. The Peters’ children bring chocolate whenever they visit. 'I keep a pack in the freezer and go and give them one every day.” Cathoir told “Today.” I always leave chocolate in their drawer so in case I can't make it or I'm late, one of the (nurses) can make sure they still get it.” Cathoir said the Hershey’s bar keeps her father alive, “and he keeps her alive.” 'He shares it with her all the time — he shares everything with her and she with him,” Cathoir told “Today.” “Yes, and they are still madly in love, isn’t that great?” their nurse, Julie Derick, told WQAD. “They hold hands all the time.” The couple celebrated their 79th anniversary last weekend with family and friends, the television station reported. Chocolate was definitely on the menu.
  • A Tennessee man is accused of threatening police officers and rolling up a marijuana blunt in front of them. >> Read more trending news  Lemink Mitchell was arrested Tuesday in Memphis, WHBQ-TV reported. Memphis police said they were called to the home because Mitchell was threatening to kill his mom after she kicked him out. She wanted officers to get him out of the home, police said. When officers arrived, they said he threatened to kill them, too. Police said while they were talking to him, he started to cuss at them. “He don’t give a (expletive) that officers are right here. He is going to do what he want to do,” he told the police. He then rolled up some marijuana into a blunt before trying to escape, police said. Court records said multiple people came out of their houses while he was running away. After a short chase, Mitchell was arrested. Mitchell is facing multiple charges, including disorderly conduct and evading arrest.
  • A Virginia woman who recently died had some extreme, and illegal, final wishes. She wanted her dog Emma euthanized so the dog and the woman could be together forever. Workers at Chesterfield Animal Shelter were caring for Emma for two weeks as they tried to dissuade the executor of the woman’s estate from going through with the woman’s plans. The workers tried to get the person to sign over the ownership of the dog to the shelter so workers could find the shih tzu mix a new home, WWBT reported.  The person held firm and picked up the dog and then took it to a vet’s office, had it put down and then taken to a pet cremation business. The remains were put in an urn and returned to a representative of the woman’s estate. >> Read more trending news  WWBT did not say how the remains were handled after the pet’s cremation. But there was an issue. While it is technically legal to put down a healthy pet in Virginia, there is an ethical question surrounding it, so it could be difficult to find a veterinarian to put down an animal, according to WWBT.  But it is illegal in the commonwealth to bury an animal’s remains, whether it is a dog or any other animal, in a casket in a cemetery. But the law applies only to a commercial cemetery. Private and family-owned cemeteries can be an exception to the law, WWBT reported. 
  • Georgia Tech announced Wednesday it is offering credit monitoring and identity theft protection to the students, employees and anyone else whose information may have been accessed during a recent data breach. The school posted information on its homepage of its website detailing how people can request the protections. Georgia Tech disclosed in April that someone illegally entered its system, having access to a database that may have included the names, addresses, date of birth and Social Security numbers of nearly 1.3 million people. Georgia Tech has not determined who was committed the breach. “We regret that this incident occurred and apologized for any inconvenience,” Jim Fortner, Georgia Tech’s interim executive vice president for administration and finance, said in a statement. The breach is reminiscent, but far larger, than one last July when students were furious after the university mistakenly emailed the personal information of nearly 8,000 College of Computing students to other students.
  • A class-action lawsuit accuses a South Carolina public water company of overcharging its customers, claiming a customer service representative in one case blamed a cat flushing a toilet for an excessive bill, The State reported. >> Read more trending news  The suit, filed May 15 in the Court of Common Pleas, Ninth Judicial District in Charleston County, also claims the Mount Pleasant Waterworks blamed customers’ leaky pipes and irrigation systems for the increase in bills. The four plaintiffs in the case, who are from Mount Pleasant, claimed their water bills could jump by hundreds of dollars without warning, according to the lawsuit. They are seeking refunds of all excess charges. The plaintiffs are also asking to have the case classified as a class action suit for all Mount Pleasant water customers, the State reported. “In one particularly egregious instance, it is reported that MPW’s customer service representative told a customer that the customer’s cat was flushing the toilet and that the cat was causing the customer’s excessive water bills,” the lawsuit claims. The suit references four cases in which the utility blamed leaks that did not exist, charged excessive late fees and promised refunds that were never applied to the customers’ accounts, the State reported. Trisha Treece, one of the plaintiffs, said she was out of town in 2019 during the January and February billing cycles and had turned off her toilet and irrigation systems, according to the lawsuit. Her bills for those two months were $305.18 and $315.87, the suit claims. After the water company refused to send a technician to inspect the meter, Treece said she hired a Rainbird technician who determined there were no leaks and that the irrigation system was working properly, the lawsuit claims. Officials from the Mount Pleasant Waterworks said Monday the lawsuit’s claims were “baseless,” the State reported. “Lawsuits of this nature impact rate-payers more than one would think,” utility officials said in a statement. “Because a few customers have filed a lawsuit, with no basis, other customers will pay more in their water bills to cover legal and administrative costs. Staff directs countless hours and resources away from our primary mission of providing our customers with essential water and wastewater service.”