Feb 14, 2018

Investigation finds VA Secretary misused funds, made false statements

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

An investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Inspector General found that VA Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and used government funds to pay for his wife's trip to Europe. The investigation, first reported by the Washington Post, also found that Shulkin's chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, altered an email and misled ethics officials to gain approval for the trip.

Why it matters: Shulkin is one of several Trump administration officials facing criticism for their improper use of taxpayer funds for travel, an issue that forced Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to resign last September. Shulkin was nominated by Trump for his current position, but served as Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health from 2015 to 2017 under President Obama.

In response to an Axios request for comment, the VA's office wrote the following:

Accountability and transparency are important values at VA under President Trump, and we look forward to reviewing the report and its recommendations in more detail before determining an appropriate response.
— VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour

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Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi on Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

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Judge sets "scheduling" conference call ahead of Roger Stone sentencing

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has requested a Feb. 18 "scheduling" conference call in the Roger Stone case, two days before the former Trump associate is set to be sentenced.

Why it matters: Stone's defense team on Friday filed a sealed motion for a new trial — the second time they've done so — amid allegations of juror bias and a growing controversy over Attorney General Bill Barr's intervention in the case.

Biden says Bloomberg's money can't "erase" his record

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Michael Bloomberg's vast fortune cannot "erase" his record, and that scrutiny of Bloomberg's positions on things like race and policing will ramp up now that he's in the national spotlight.

Why it matters: Biden's polling free fall in the wake of poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire has coincided with a surge for Bloomberg, who appeals to a similar moderate bloc of the Democratic Party. The billionaire's limitless spending capacity poses an especially stark threat to Biden, who has struggled with fundraising.