Jun 13, 2019

Republican blocks bill requiring campaigns to alert FBI to foreign assistance

Sen. Marsha Blackburn. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) blocked an effort by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) to pass a bill via unanimous consent requiring campaigns to report any offers of foreign assistance to the FBI.

"We are all for free and fair and honest elections. ... These reporting requirements are overbroad. Presidential campaigns would have to worry about disclosure at a variety of levels. So many different levels. Consider this: vendors that work for a campaign, people that are supplying some kind of voter service to a campaign. ... It would apply to door knockers, it would apply to phone bankers, down to any person who shares their views with a candidate."

Warner then countered that Blackburn's reading of the legislation is "not accurate .., The only thing that would have to be reported is if the agent of a foreign government or national offered that something that was already prohibited."

The big picture: President Trump's comments on Wednesday that he would consider accepting intelligence on a political opponent from a foreign entity set off immediate outrage from Democrats, who see it as an invitation for foreign adversaries to interfere in future U.S. elections. Lawmakers in both the Senate and the House have renewed calls to pass election security measures, with some going as far as to call Trump's comments "anti-American" and grounds for impeachment.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, responding to Blackburn's objection, said on the Senate floor: "How disgraceful it is that our Republican friends cower before this president when they know that the things he does severely damage democracy."

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Trump's clemency spree

Rod Blagojevich in 2010. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump announced Tuesday that he commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption — as well as issuing full pardons for former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

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Trump's improbable moonshot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.

Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.

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Justice Department says U.S. attorneys are reviewing Ukraine information

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) Tuesday informing him that the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania are reviewing "unsolicited" information from the public related to matters involving Ukraine.

Why it matters: Nadler had requested an explanation for the "intake process" that Attorney General Bill Barr stated had been set up in order to receive information that Rudy Giuliani had obtained about the Bidens in Ukraine.