by Countable | 5.23.17
It’s difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in this country and to break through the clutter, so we’re here to make it easier. Here’s what we at Countable are reading today:
Former CIA director John Brennan said Tuesday that he personally warned the head of Russia’s intelligence service last year that Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election would backfire and damage the country’s relationship with the United States.
Brennan’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee represented the most detailed public accounting of his tenure as CIA director during a critical period last year when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia was not only attempting to disrupt the election but also was actively seeking to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and elect Trump.
Read more at the Washington Post.
President Donald Trump’s budget—which projects a balanced budget within 10 years—relies on accounting that is hard to add up.
In his budget proposal Tuesday, Mr. Trump estimates his economic policies, including the tax plan, will be more than revenue neutral. The budget estimates it will generate an extra $2.1 trillion in revenue and help to balance the budget by 2027.
That appears to double count the benefits of economic growth: Once to offset the effects of lower tax rates and a second time to help close the budget deficit.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal.
Read more about the budget proposal at Countable.
U.S. Homeland Security officials have begun "extreme vetting" interviews at Australia's offshore detention centers, two sources at the camps told Reuters on Tuesday, as Washington honors a refugee swap that U.S. President Donald Trump had called "a dumb deal".
The Trump administration said last month the agreement to offer refuge to up to 1,250 asylum seekers in the centers would progress on condition that refugees satisfied strict checks.
In exchange, Australia has pledged to take Central American refugees from a center in Costa Rica, where the United States has expanded intake in recent years, under the deal struck with former President Barack Obama.
Read more at Reuters.
A member of the Federal Election Commission is calling on the agency to investigate whether Russian agents paid for Facebook ads to spread damaging stories about Hillary Clinton ahead of last fall’s presidential election.
The commissioners in October unanimously agreed to prioritize investigations into complaints about foreign spending. And in some ways, the FEC's inquiry into Trump and Russia could offer greater transparency, accountability and focus than the congressional or law enforcement investigations.
If four commissioners vote to find reason to believe a violation may have occurred, the agency can begin issuing subpoenas and moving toward negotiating civil penalties, or possibly making criminal referrals to the Justice Department. (It’s also possible that the FBI could ask the FEC to stand down if the agencies’ investigations start overlapping.) Yet, even if the five current members of the FEC (there’s one vacancy) can’t muster the four votes — a scenario that has become increasingly common — the staff’s investigative report still becomes public, which could fuel additional scrutiny from Congress and the media.
Read more at Politico.
When Americans were introduced last year to Ivanka Trump’s husband and the nation’s prospective son-in-law in chief, it was as the preternaturally poised, Harvard-educated scion of a real-estate empire whose glittering ambitions resembled Donald Trump’s own.
But the Kushners’ empire, like Trump’s, was underwritten by years of dealing in much more modestly ambitioned properties...At the time of the 2012 Baltimore purchase, Kushner raved about the promise of the low-end multifamily market. "It’s proven over the last few years to be the most resilient asset class, and at the end of the day, it’s a very stable asset class," he told Multifamily Executive. He said things were proceeding well in the Midwestern complexes he purchased a year earlier. “It was a lot of construction and a lot of evictions,” he said. “But the communities now look great, and the outcome has been phenomenal.”
Jared Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Companies in January. But he remains a stakeholder in the company — his share of company-related trusts is estimated to be worth at least $600 million — and the company says it has no intention of selling off its multifamily holdings...Because Kushner retains his interest in the complexes, the White House told The Baltimore Sun in February that he would recuse himself from any policy decisions about Section 8 funding, as many of his tenants rely on it for their rent. But even as Kushner now busies himself with his ever-expanding White House portfolio, his company is carrying on its vigorous efforts in court.
Read more at ProPublica.
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Obama White House via Flickr / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable
Congress needs to fully and openly investigate the issues regarding Russian meddling in our elections brought up by Former CIA director John Brennan.
Please create a select committee to oversee the investigation of the administration's ties to Russia. Mueller's appointment is good news, but it's not enough. A bipartisan select committee, which Congress can create without administration approval, would operate in parallel with the special prosecutor and would have a broader mission, bringing to light actions that are inappropriate or unethical but not necessarily criminal.
Whether it's a calculated move or being naive on Trump's part, it's clear that Trump is not fit for the job. He clearly can't handle this job!
Very very interesting, indeed. Interesting mostly for Kushner's that "...many of his tenants rely...on section 8 (subsidies) for rent" on his properties while trump wants/proposes to drastically cut all social welfare/safety nets, a la Section 8 funding! Hmmm, I wonder how that is going to magically work out?
Could not help but notice that the Republican Senator, Trey Gowdy, Mr. Benghazi, who once relished tearing into to his fellow American, now revels in dismissing the idea that Russians meddled in our election, such a cagey defender of a traitorous President, spilling secrets and attacking his own people with reckless abandon.
Please create a bipartisan select committee. You owe it to the American people to protect our democracy and ensure a fair handling of the Russian investigation. Do not choose part over country.
It is absolutely imperative that a bipartisan congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign team be done immediately and that no stone be left unturned. Subpoena and question Comey and other former and current leaders as well as suspects involved. If any wrongdoing was done then all persons including President Trump must be held accountable. If it's proven that Russia did meddle then severe penalties and sanctions must be applied.