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The White House this week directed former personnel security director Carl Kline to defy a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee as part of the panel’s investigation into the controversial security clearance process for administration officials.
Kline was slated to appear before the committee for an interview on Wednesday but was told by the White House to ignore the subpoena, unless a representative from the White House counsel is permitted to attend the interview.
“[M]y client has been instructed not to appear tomorrow. With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him,” Kline’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, wrote to committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., late Monday.
Driscoll attached a letter from Deputy White House Counsel to the President Michael Purpura revealing the administration’s instructions for Kline to defy his subpoena.
“This letter serves to inform you that Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff to the President, has directed Mr. Kline not to appear on April 23, 2019,” the letter from the White House to Driscoll read. “The Department of Justice is aware of and concurs with the legal position taken by the White House that Mr. Kline does not need to appear for his deposition if no representative of this office is permitted to attend.”
Last week, the White House requested that the committee “allow a representative of the Office of Counsel to the President to attend” Kline’s interview, but the committee denied the request.
Driscoll wrote to Cummings late Monday that the decision to adhere to the White House’s demands was “not made lightly and does not come from any ill will or deliberate defiance” on his or Kline’s part.
“We wished to answer the legitimate legislative questions of this committee, but warned of an impending conflict,” Driscoll wrote, adding that they have done their “best” to avoid the issue. “It is my sincere hope that this interbranch dispute can be worked out. If so, we will promptly and eagerly arrange a time with committee staff for his voluntary appearance. Thank you for your understanding.”
Kline’s subpoena was issued as part of the committee’s investigation into security clearances issued to senior Trump administration officials, including Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former White House aide Rob Porter.
The probe intensified after Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversaw the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, revealed that she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year, but had senior officials overrule those denials.
The allegations were detailed in a letter and memo released Monday by Cummings.
The documents, which are based on Newbold's March 23 private committee interview, don't identify the officials on the list but say they include "two current senior White House officials, as well as contractors and individuals" in different parts of the Executive Office of the President.
The White House’s defiance of the Kline subpoena comes after lawyers for Trump on Monday sued the committee to block subpoenas for the president’s financial records.
“We will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered,” counsel to the president Jay Sekulow said.
The Oversight Committee, earlier this month, said it would subpoena accounting firm Mazars USA LLC for Trump’s financial information. Cummings is seeking annual statements, periodic financial reports and independent auditors reports from Mazars, as well as records of communications with Trump.
In seeking the records, Cummings has cited the February testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who claimed the president inflated or deflated the value of his assets when it would benefit him.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, Alex Pappas and John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Warren won’t hold universities ‘accountable’ over issue fueling student debt problem: college professor
Elizabeth Warren’s plan for student loan debt cancellation and free college tuition – costing $1.25 trillion over 10 years – does little to address two major education issues, according to one critic.
Brian Brenberg, associate professor and chair of the program in business and finance at the King’s College in New York, said Warren’s plan contains “big problems” during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning.
“One of the big problems is costs here. We are talking about trillions of dollars,” he said. “She wants to forgive loans for people who have loans now. She is not talking about folks who paid their loans off in the past and sitting there and thinking what a chump I am that I paid off my loans. That's a big problem.”
"She is not talking about folks who paid their loans off in the past and sitting there and thinking what a chump I am that I paid off my loans. That's a big problem.”
Under Warren’s plan, unveiled on Monday, each person’s student debt would get a relief of $50,000 if household income is up to $100,000. Higher incomes would also be entitled to massive debt reductions, while only those households with earnings of over $250,000 would get no student debt reduction.
But Brenberg points that while Warren’s proposal attempts to tackle the issue of massive student loan debts, it does little to address the real problem of what causes so many graduates to remain indebted for years, which is the quality of education.
“She is also not talking about the value people get from schools. So, yeah, people have a lot of loans. $1.5 trillion in loans,” Brenberg said.
“But the problem is they are not getting value for their education which is why they can't pay off those loans. Let's talk about that. She doesn't want to hold the universities accountable.”
But the problem is they are not getting value for their education which is why they can't pay off those loans. Let's talk about that. She doesn't want to hold the universities accountable.”
According to the details provided by Warren, her student debt cancelation plan has a one-off price tag of $640 billion to the government.
But Warren’s proposal also proposes to eliminate tuition and fees for two and four-year public college degree programs, as well as a $100 billion investment in Pell Grants, a federal aid program that requires no payback – bringing the total price tag of about $1.25 trillion over 10 years.
She claims that the cost of the policy, in addition to her proposed universal free college, would be “be “more than covered by my Ultra-Millionaire Tax -- a 2% annual tax on the 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth.”
Source: Fox News Politics
FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a "debt clock" screen, installed by Bruno Leoni Institute's analysts, displaying Italy's public debt at the Termini central station in Rome, Italy February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
April 23, 2019
By Francesco Guarascio
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Public debt in Greece and Italy, the two most indebted countries in the euro zone, grew last year while the bloc as a whole saw its liabilities decrease, the European Union statistics office said on Tuesday.
Rome’s growing debt, which is also higher than Brussels had predicted, is seen as further stretching EU fiscal rules that require countries with high debts to gradually bring them down.
Italy, whose eurosceptic government adopted free-spending policies last year that have so far had little impact on growth, had debt equivalent to 132.2 percent of national output in 2018, or 2.3 trillion euros ($2.5 trillion), up from 131.4 percent in the previous year, Eurostat said.
Up to 0.2 percent of the Italian debt was due to derivative contracts, which are usually used to hedge against risks but triggered losses for 4.7 billion euros in 2018, Eurostat data show. Other euro zone countries have reduced their debt thanks to derivatives.
Although Rome has decreased its losses on derivatives from the 5.4 billion euros posted in 2017, the negative impact over the country’s debt has exceeded 25 billion since 2015, data show.
The European Commission, which monitors euro zone states’ budgets, refrained in December from starting disciplinary steps against Italy over its growing debt.
It predicted then that Italian debt would be 131.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2018 — lower than Tuesday’s data showed.
The Commission has said it will reassess Rome’s compliance with EU fiscal rules, including the requirement to cut debt, in June, taking into account the final debt data from Eurostat.
A spokeswoman for the EU executive declined to comment on the new figures released by Eurostat.
She said Brussels’ new evaluation of Italy’s position will also be based on new forecasts due in May of debt developments, and on Italy’s report on its fiscal plans for the next three years which Rome had just submitted.
Italy’s 10-year government bond yield jumped to its highest in seven weeks on Tuesday, pushed up mostly by unease over government infighting and an upcoming ratings review.
BUCKING THE TREND
Italy bucked the euro zone trend, as overall debt in the 19-country currency bloc fell to 85.1 percent of GDP last year from 87.1 percent in 2017, Eurostat said.
The bloc’s aggregated budget deficit also dropped to 0.5 percent of GDP from 1.0 percent in 2017.
The fall coincided with Germany’s reduction of its debt to 60.9 percent of GDP, from 64.5 percent in 2017. The bloc’s largest economy also widened its public surplus to 1.7 percent of output from 1.0 percent in 2017.
In Greece, debt climbed to 181.1 percent of GDP in 2018, the largest ratio in the euro zone.
The increase from 176.2 percent in 2017 was mostly due to the last installment of euro zone creditors’ loans as part of the country’s third bailout program which ended last summer.
The recent exit from the bailout program exempts Greece from the normal application of EU rules that require countries with public debt above the 60 percent of GDP threshold allowed by EU law to cut the excess by 5 percent a year.
Cyprus, another of the bloc’s most indebted countries, saw its debt rise to 102.5 percent of GDP from 95.8 percent.
Portugal, which was also bailed out during the euro zone’s debt crisis, saw its debt fall to 121.5 percent of output from 124.8 percent, while Belgium’s debt declined to 102.0 percent of GDP last year from 103.4 percent in 2017.
French public debt was stable at 98.4 percent of output, while the country’s budget deficit dropped to 2.5 percent of GDP from 2.8 percent in 2017.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas in Athens and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to reporters outside the United Nations Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
April 23, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit southeast Michigan on Wednesday to make the case that the North American trade deal intended to replace NAFTA would boost the auto industry, industry officials said.
Pence will speak at an event with automakers and auto suppliers in Taylor, Michigan and is expected to tour a Ford Motor Co truck plant in Dearborn as the administration works to convince Congress to ratify the new trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday estimated that under the deal U.S. auto industry employment would rise by 30,000 jobs for parts and engine production, but that the number of U.S. vehicle assembly jobs would decline. U.S. vehicle prices would rise up to 1.6 percent, causing consumption to fall by 140,000 units per year, or about 1.25 percent of 2017 sales, the report said.
The Trump administration and U.S. automakers, disputed the ITC report, saying instead that the new trade deal will create 76,000 automotive sector jobs within five years as automakers invest some $34 billion in new plants to comply with the pact’s new regional content rules.
The White House did not immediately comment on Pence’s trip.
(Reporting by David Shepardson)
FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft are seen parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
April 23, 2019
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s Jet Airways is constantly engaging with the government and lenders for a resolution of the current debt crisis and will not leave any stone unturned to revive the airline, its chief executive officer Vinay Dube told television channel ET Now in an interview.
Once India’s largest private airline, Jet halted all flight operations indefinitely last Wednesday evening after lenders led by State Bank of India declined to extend more funds to keep the carrier going.
“We are in constant touch with the lenders on how to get it (debt resolution) done in a manner that makes sense for them and makes sense for us,” Dube told ET Now.
“But I would like to think that a flying Jet Airways makes definite sense for them (banks) because it preserves their value as well. So we are not talking about anything that does not make good economic sense for the lenders, this is not charity for the sake of it”.
The company has requested banks for 10 billion rupees ($143.29 million), Dube said.
Earlier in the day, newspaper Business Standard reported that all shortlisted bidders for the company had backed out of the bidding process that is due to complete on May 10.
Dube, however, said he was hopeful of finding a keen, healthy investor who can inject the requisite amount of equity into the company.
The government plans to form a committee to temporarily allocate takeoff and landing slots left vacant by the grounding of Jet Airways flights, a senior official said last week.
Dube, however, said the government had assured the airlines this was a temporary move and the slots will be protected for the airline once they start flying again.
“While we have a combination of aircraft that are being deregistered or early terminated, the majority of them have not left the premise,” Dube said referring to the aircraft and said they will be available to the airline when it starts flying again.
“We understand the banks’ position. This is a financial proposition for them as well and we are in constant touch with them and we will be. For us there is no stone that we will leave unturned. We believe in Jet Airways, we will do whatever we can to make other people also believe in us.”
(Reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
French President Emmanuel Macron and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe give a joint statement to the media at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
April 23, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday discussed the future of the Renault-Nissan alliance and the investigation in Tokyo into alleged financial misconduct by its former boss Carlos Ghosn, Macron’s office said.
“This industrial partnership has shown its resilience,” a French presidency official said in a statement.
“It is now up to the industry leaders in charge to make the alliance even more solid so that it can face up to the technological disruptions underway in the auto industry,” added the official.
The official said France respected Japan’s judicial system and that France was closely watching to see that Ghosn’s rights were respected.
Japanese prosecutors indicted Carlos Ghosn on Monday on another charge of aggravated breach of trust. The charge came on the day that Ghosn’s latest detention period was set to expire.
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier, Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
April 23, 2019
(Reuters) – U.S. stocks opened higher on Tuesday, led by gains in technology stocks and upbeat earnings from a handful of companies including Coca-Cola and Twitter.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.78 points, or 0.01%, at the open to 26,513.83. The S&P 500 opened higher by 2.02 points, or 0.07%, at 2,909.99. The Nasdaq Composite gained 11.48 points, or 0.14%, to 8,026.75 at the opening bell.
(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
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The Senate Judiciary Committee doesn’t need to hear testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller about his report, because it should instead be focusing on confirming federal judges, Sen. Joni Ernst said Monday.
“We have the report, so we can go on from there,” the Iowa Republican, a member of the committee told CNN. “Really, the House seems all over this. I know that we will continue to work on judges as a primary concern in [the Senate] Judiciary.”
Ernst also added, when asked if she felt alarmed after seeing Trump’s behavior as described in the Mueller report, that “we all know who the president is. He has a brash demeanor, that’s about all I can say.”
Her comments come as House Democrats call for Mueller to testify. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is scheduled to hold a conference call Monday with House Democrats to discuss a strategy following last week’s report release.
Last week, even before Mueller’s report was released, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y asked the special counsel to appear before his committee by May 23, posting on his Twitter account a copy of a letter he sent to Mueller.
Sunday, Nadler told NBC News that he hasn’t ruled out impeachment but said Congress will “have to hear from” Mueller and Attorney General William Barr first.
“Some of this would be impeachable,” Nadler said about allegations in Mueller’s report. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: Tourists stand at a promenade across the water from the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort in Singapore, in this file picture taken June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/File Photo
April 12, 2019
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s economy grew more than expected in the first quarter from the quarter before on an annualized basis, preliminary data showed on Friday.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.0 percent in the January-March period from the previous three months on an annualized and seasonally adjusted basis, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.
It was forecast to have expanded 1.2 percent on a quarter-on-quarter, seasonally adjusted and annualized basis, a Reuters poll showed.
From the year ago, GDP grew 1.3 percent in the first quarter, below the 1.5 percent expansion forecast in the poll.
(Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Sam Holmes)
New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reportedly hired a top Hollywood talent agency and explored a possibility of writing a book, though the deal appears to have gone nowhere.
Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described Democratic Socialist who got into Congress after defeating prominent Democrat Joe Crowley in her district in November, has come to symbolize the party’s leftward movement.
Ocasio-Cortez retained the talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and held meetings earlier this year about potentially writing a book, the Daily Beast reported.
The book deal in the end didn’t materialize, with reasons remaining unknown, the report said. It’s also unclear if the book deal will be resurrected at a later date or whether she continues working with the top Hollywood talent agency that reportedly represents the likes of George Clooney, Emma Watson, and Brad Pitt.
The congresswoman’s office neither confirmed nor denied the talks she had about the book deal, according to the outlet. Her office did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News.
Book deals signed by incoming members of Congress aren’t new, although few existing members ink such deals due to strict regulations that prohibit receiving an advance for the book.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota who’s facing multiple controversies, entered a book deal worth up to $250,000, though the exact figure remains unclear, before officially becoming a congresswoman, Forbes reported.
The book by Omar, the first Somali American to serve in Congress, has the working title, “This Is What America Looks Like,” and will be published by Dey Street. It will touch upon Omar’s upbringing in Somalia, her years as a refugee in Kenya and her subsequent arrival in the United States.
Source: Fox News Politics
FILE PHOTO: Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg speaks during a delivery celebration of the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker to the U.S. Air Force in Everett, Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo
April 18, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co is making “steady progress” on the path to certifying a software update to the 737 MAX and has made the final test flight before certification, its chief executive said on Thursday.
“We are making steady progress toward certification,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a video on his Twitter account.
“Yesterday we completed the official engineering flight test with the updated software with our technical and engineering leaders on board the airplane. That was the final test flight prior to the certification flight.”
Boeing is updating the software controlling an anti-stall system that has been linked to deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The 737 MAX remains grounded around the world pending regulatory approval to resume flying.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Writing by Jamie Freed)
FILE PHOTO: Lertviroj Kowattana, permanent secretary of the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, dressed in a traditional costume, greets Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn during the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony in central Bangkok, Thailand, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
April 23, 2019
By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s royal astrologer cast King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s horoscope on Tuesday in an important ritual to prepare for his elaborate coronation ceremonies next week.
Saffron-clad Buddhist monks chanted as the horoscope for the king’s reign was cast on a golden plaque.
The three-hour ceremony included the inscription of the king’s name and new royal title on another golden plaque, and the carving of the king’s official seal.
Thai culture is steeped in astrology and other forms of divination, and many Thais go to fortune-tellers for everything from guidance on career and love to setting dates for important life events like weddings and business ventures.
Astrology in the royal court, involving rigid rituals and precise calculations, is a world away from commoners’ divinations.
Court astrologers traditionally make predictions about the future at every important transition in the nation’s history.
Court astrologer Chatchai Pinngern cast the horoscope of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is attached to the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Neither the horoscope, which notes planetary alignments based on precise details around a person’s birth, nor its interpretation were made public.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, was not present for the ceremony but sent a royal representative.
The ceremony also saw the inscription of the king’s new name and title on another golden plate, and an engraving of his royal seal which is an auspicious symbol that is said to show the sovereignty and the majesty of the king.
The royal horoscope and the other two items will play essential roles in Vajiralongkorn’s main coronation events on May 4, as they will be presented to the king by Thailand’s chief of Brahmins, along with other royal regalia.
The coronation ceremonies from May 4 to 6 will be the first the country has seen since Vajiralongkorn’s father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned on May 5, 1950.
King Bhumibol reigned for seven decades before he died in October 2016 at age 88.
(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; editing by Kay Johnson and Darren Schuettler)