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Republicans reject calls to probe Trump role in hush-money payments – CNNPolitics

(CNN) President Donald Trump may have committed crimes over a scheme to pay off women alleging extramarital affairs — but Senate Republicans say they have no reason to look into it. GOP leaders and key committee chairmen are making clear that they believe there is no reason to probe whether the President broke the law…

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Republicans reject calls to probe Trump role in hush-money payments – CNNPolitics

(CNN) President Donald Trump may have committed crimes over a scheme to pay off women alleging extramarital affairs — but Senate Republicans say they have no reason to look into it.
GOP leaders and key committee chairmen are making clear that they believe there is no reason to probe whether the President broke the law in engaging in a scheme to hide payments made to two women to keep their stories quiet in the days running up to the 2016 elections. Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and investigated Hillary Clinton’s email controversy in the last Congress, says he wants to wait until special counsel Robert Mueller finishes his investigation first.

Told that the investigation into the hush-money scheme was being led by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Johnson said: “We’ll let the justice system work its way. … I want to see the definitive information as opposed to show-trial type testimony at congressional hearings.” Trump met Tuesday with Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Georgia Rep.

Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, to discuss border security and immigration ahead of a Wednesday Senate hearing. But Trump also discussed “harassment stuff” with the lawmakers, Graham told CNN. Read More “He just believes they are out to take a wrecking ball to his life,” Graham said of Dems. “They’ll go nuts.” Graham said he told Trump to “listen to his lawyers” about whether to comply with the Democratic requests. “You just have to put your head down, fight back and govern the country — that’s what (Bill) Clinton did,” Graham said, adding that Trump should challenge Democrats to “fix problems.

” Graham said concerns about the Democratic probes comprised about “10%” of the meeting. Asked whether Trump suggested he should fight back, Graham said there was little that he could do, but he planned to use the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate “abuse” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which would continue the GOP-led House probes in the last Congress into accusations of FBI and Justice Department misconduct. The decision to ignore allegations that Trump may have broken the law — and wrote a check reimbursing his former personal attorney Michael Cohen for the payments while serving as President — highlights the stark contrast between the priorities of the Democratic-run House and Republican-run Senate over the next two years. Democrats say the GOP is ignoring its constitutional duties to oversee the Executive Branch — and with several powerful committees ramping up oversight over all aspects of the President’s political life, business career, campaign, transition and inauguration. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff announced Tuesday several new committee hires, including Daniel Goldman as a senior adviser and director of investigations. The hiring is notable because Goldman worked from 2010-2017 for the Southern District of New York — which charged Cohen over the hush-money payments — where Goldman was deputy chief of the organized crime unit. See the more than 80 names receiving House Judiciary Committee letters in its investigation Republicans say Democrats are overreaching and setting the stage for impeachment.

“I think what the Democrats are worried about now is the hysteria over the alleged collusion, that they’re worried the Mueller report will come up with basically nothing against the President,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and adviser to the GOP leadership. “That’s why I think their full-frontal assault, which as I said I think is a prelude to impeachment and will make sure that we can’t get anything else done.

” Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said the hush-money payments that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said the President repaid while in office wouldn’t be on his “top five” list of issues to investigate, because the Mueller and the federal prosecutors in New York are already probing it. “I think there are some House members that decided they want to start the election early, and they’re going to do everything they can to tear down the President,” Kennedy said. “I’m not saying that the Republicans wouldn’t do it if the shoe were on the other foot — that’s part of the problem with this place.” In a statement Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blasted the new House investigation as “a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations already investigated by the Special Counsel and committees in both Chambers of Congress.” Trump weighed in on the Democratic probes later Tuesday, telling reporters, “The witch hunt continues,” and adding that “basically” Democrats have “started the campaign.” Trump also appeared to suggest that his predecessor hadn’t complied with congressional investigations into the Obama administration. “President Obama, from what they tell me, was under a similar kind of a thing.

They didn’t give one letter. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t give one letter of the requests. Many requests were made.

They didn’t give a letter.” House Democrats are rapidly ramping up their investigations into all elements of Trump’s world, from his businesses to his administration. After Cohen’s blockbuster testimony last week — where he displayed a check Trump paid him in 2017 as partial reimbursement for the October 2016 payment to Stormy Daniels — three House committee said they wanted documents and testimony from Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Weisselberg was one of 81 people and entities that received letters from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Monday asking for documents on a wide-range of issues, marking the start of a sprawling investigation into possible corruption, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.

One Senate committee continues to probe possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016: The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is two years into its investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling. The panel also interviewed Cohen last week behind closed doors, the day before his high-profile public testimony, but lawmakers say the President’s role in hush-money payments is beyond the scope of the committee’s probe.

In 2017, the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee did launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, where Donald Trump Jr. was promised “dirt” on Clinton’s campaign from a Russian lawyer. That probe wrapped up last year amid infighting between Democrats and Republicans over witnesses, with Democrats demanding Trump Jr.

and others return for public testimony. “The Senate Judiciary Committee has a responsibility to be more aggressive in continuing its investigation which unfortunately we short-circuited,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the panel.

“We need to bring back Donald Trump Jr.

and anyone else who has known about those hush money payments.” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior member of Senate Judiciary who chaired the panel in the last Congress, wouldn’t say if he had concerns about Trump’s involvement in a hush-money scheme. 8 things I learned from Michael Cohen today “You always ask me questions that I haven’t studied,” Grassley said Tuesday. “So I can’t say.” A fellow Iowa Republican on the Judiciary panel, Sen. Joni Ernst, also suggested she wasn’t fully aware of the hush money when asked if the committee should look into the scandal.

“Possibly at some point — I don’t know enough about it,” Ernst said. On the House side, Republicans can do little while in the minority to stop their Democratic counterparts. Instead, they’ve vocally criticized their Democratic colleagues for trying to tear down the President with their investigations. Trump has also frequently slammed them on Twitter as “presidential harassment.

” After attacking Cohen’s credibility at his hearing last week, Republicans downplayed the significance of the hush-money allegations. “I think it’s news we knew about,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight panel, said after the hearing concluded.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Nadler, whose committee would lead impeachment proceedings, of deciding to impeach Trump “the day the President won the election.

” Asked if he was concerned about the President directing the hush-money payments, McCarthy instead put the blame on Cohen. “You know what concerns me? If you hire an attorney — if I hire an attorney to make sure I carry out the law, the attorney has a responsibility to tell me what’s right and wrong in the process,” he told ABC News.

“If it’s a finance campaign, those are fines. Those aren’t impeachable in the process.” Some of the President’s allies are also not eager to engage in the controversy. Asked Tuesday if he had any concerns about Trump paying off women and allegedly breaking the law, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ignored the question and kept walking. This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

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US Senate votes to terminate Trump’s border order

US Senate votes to reject Trump’s emergency declaration, setting up President’s first veto 15 Mar, 2019 7:52am Don’t auto play Never auto play Some Senate Republicans will support a Democratic resolution to terminate the President’s national emergency declaration to build a wall along the US border with Mexico. / CNN Washington Post Share on Reddit…

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US Senate votes to terminate Trump’s border order

US Senate votes to reject Trump’s emergency declaration, setting up President’s first veto 15 Mar, 2019 7:52am Don’t auto play Never auto play Some Senate Republicans will support a Democratic resolution to terminate the President’s national emergency declaration to build a wall along the US border with Mexico. / CNN Washington Post Share on Reddit reddit In a stunning rebuke, the Republican-controlled Senate has voted to terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border. The disapproval resolution passed the House last month, so the 59-41 Senate vote will send the measure to the Trump’s desk. Trump has promised to use the first veto of his presidency to strike it down, and Congress does not have the votes to override the veto.

But the Senate vote stood as a rare instance of Republicans breaking with Trump in significant numbers on an issue central to his presidency – the construction of a wall along the southern border. Advertisement Advertise with NZME. For weeks Trump had sought to frame the debate in terms of immigration, arguing that Republican senators who supported border security should back him up on the emergency declaration.

But for many GOP lawmakers, it was about a bigger issue: The Constitution itself, which grants Congress – not the president — control over government spending. By declaring a national emergency in order to bypass Congress to get money for his wall, Trump was violating the separation of powers and setting a potentially dangerous precedent, these senators argued. “It’s imperative for the president to honor Congress’ constitutional role,” Senator Rob Portman, said on the Senate floor as he announced his vote in favor of the disapproval resolution. “A national emergency declaration is a tool to be used cautiously and sparingly.” Republicans who voted with Trump and against the disapproval resolution said the president was acting within his authority under the National Emergencies Act, and taking necessary steps to address a humanitarian and drug crisis at the border that Democrats had ignored. “There is a crisis at the border and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have prevented a solution,” said Senator Cory Gardner, naming the House speaker and Senate minority leader. “It should never have come to this, but in the absence of congressional action, the President did what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer refused to do.

” Many GOP senators agonized at length before deciding how to vote, with significant numbers of them – including Portman and Gardner, who is up for re-election next year – waiting until Thursday to announce their positions.

Senator Thom Tillis, another senator up for re-election in a politically divided state, had announced last month that he would vote for the disapproval resolution. He wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post at the time arguing there would be “no intellectual honesty” in supporting executive overreach by Trump that he had opposed under President Barack Obama. But today Tillis flipped and cast his vote with the President, saying he was reassured by indications that Trump would support changes to the National Emergencies Act itself, to rein in presidential powers going forward. Tillis’ flip-flop highlighted the political pressure Republicans felt over potentially crossing the president. In the end only one Republican who is up for re-election next year Susan Collins, R-Maine, voted for the disapproval resolution. Thursday’s vote followed numerous failed efforts at compromise by vacillating GOP senators, including a dramatic incident Wednesday evening where a trio of GOP senators — Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Ben Sasse – showed up nearly unannounced at the White House, interrupting Trump at dinner in a last-ditch effort to craft a compromise.

Their efforts failed, and Graham, Cruz and Sasse all ended up voting against the disapproval resolution. “I said thank you for meeting with us. Sorry we ruined your dinner. And again, if it’d been me, I would have kicked us out after about five minutes,” Graham said later. Ahead of the vote, Trump took to Twitter to goad his critics and insist that defectors would be siding with Pelosi. “A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!” Trump wrote. The president said he would support GOP efforts to update the National Emergencies Act at a later date – something that’s been under discussion as a way to rein in presidential powers going forward – “but today’s issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!! Don’t vote with Pelosi!” Pelosi herself told reporters: “The Senate will hopefully vote for the Constitution of the United States to uphold the oath of office that we all take by voting to reject the president’s measure that does violence on the Constitution.

. . . We’ll then send the bill to the president.” Concern among GOP senators has focused on Trump’s use of the National Emergencies Act to grab $3.6 billion appropriated by Congress for military construction projects nationwide – and use it to build barriers along the border instead. Graham declined to specify what exactly was discussed when he and the others showed up to interrupt Trump’s dinner Wednesday night, but said it focused on satisfying those concerns.

The attempted last-minute intervention by Graham and the others was just the latest attempt by Republicans to find some kind of compromise, as they choose between siding with Trump or crossing him on Thursday’s vote. But Trump repeatedly shot down the GOP’s attempts at dealmaking, calling Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, during a private GOP lunch Wednesday to reject a proposal to curtail presidential powers under the National Emergencies Act. Shortly after that, Lee announced he would be voting for the disapproval resolution. The vote on the disapproval resolution came a day after a Senate vote to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, marking unusual twin rebukes from a Senate that has mostly bowed to Trump’s wishes.

Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered contrasting takes on the Senate floor Thursday morning about what is at stake. “This is not a normal vote,” Schumer said. “This will be a vote about the very nature of our constitution and the separation of powers.” But McConnell argued that Trump was acting well within his powers and consistently with previous invocations of the National Emergencies Act. “Let’s not lose sight of the particular question that’s before us later today, whether the facts tell us there’s truly a humanitarian and security crisis on our Southern border and whether the Senate, for some reason, feels this particular emergency on our own border does not rise to the other national emergencies current in effect,” McConnell said. – With AP.

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Border wall: Senate votes to end Donald Trump’s national emergency

WASHINGTON – In a major rebuke to President Donald Trump on his signature domestic policy issue, the Republican-controlled Senate voted Thursday to block the national emergency the president declared to free up money for his border wall. A dozen Republicans joined all Democrats backing a resolution to rescind Trump’s effort to tap into more than…

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Border wall: Senate votes to end Donald Trump’s national emergency

WASHINGTON – In a major rebuke to President Donald Trump on his signature domestic policy issue, the Republican-controlled Senate voted Thursday to block the national emergency the president declared to free up money for his border wall. A dozen Republicans joined all Democrats backing a resolution to rescind Trump’s effort to tap into more than $6 billion that Congress set aside for other programs, most of them at the Pentagon.
Trump vowed to use his veto power for the first time to kill the resolution, which passed the House last month. There’s probably not enough opposition to override that veto, but the Senate vote was nevertheless a significant political setback for Trump.
The president, who had lobbied hard in recent days to keep Republicans in line, responded with a single-word tweet after the vote.
“VETO!” was all he wrote..

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Trump faces Senate revolt in vote on border emergency – World News Gateway

Senate Republicans revolt against Trump over border 14 March 2019 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP Image caption President Trump says the situation on the southern border constitutes a national crisis Rebel members of President Donald Trump’s party have helped pass a vote to…

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Trump faces Senate revolt in vote on border emergency – World News Gateway

Senate Republicans revolt against Trump over border 14 March 2019 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP Image caption President Trump says the situation on the southern border constitutes a national crisis Rebel members of President Donald Trump’s party have helped pass a vote to reject his declaration of an emergency on the US-Mexico border.
Twelve Republican senators broke party ranks to side with Democrats, approving a proposal to revoke the proclamation by 59-41.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last month backed the measure.
Following Thursday’s vote, Mr Trump tweeted: “VETO!”
Congress needs a two-thirds majority of both chambers to override a presidential veto, which is viewed as unlikely in this case.

Nevertheless, the vote will be seen as an embarrassing loss for the president on his signature domestic issue.
On Twitter, Mr Trump slammed the vote, calling it a “Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs and Trafficking in our Country”. Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country. I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL! Report End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump
It comes just a day after the Senate rebuked him on foreign policy by approving a bill to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen .

The Republican rebels on Thursday were Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Thom Tillis of North Carolina changed his mind minutes before the vote and said he would oppose it.
The Republican president declared the emergency on 15 February after Congress refused funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border, a key campaign pledge.
He aims to circumvent Congress and build his long-promised barrier by raiding military budgets.

It could free up almost $8bn (£6bn) for the wall, which is still considerably short of the estimated $23bn cost of a barrier along almost 2,000 miles (3,200km) of border, but far more than the nearly $1.4bn begrudgingly allotted last month by Congress. Where authority ends and overreach begins
Gary O’Donoghue, BBC News, Washington
By any standards this is a big rebellion by Republicans in the Senate and therefore a significant embarrassment for the president.
But what it’s not, is a repudiation by them of his border wall policy which many of them support with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Which begs the question: what were they bothered about?
In straightforward terms, the use of national emergency powers was seen as overreach by the president in two ways:
First, it is a pretty blatant attempt to bypass Congress’s power of the purse – its constitutional right to raise and spend money.
The president had demanded billions for the wall, Congress hadn’t agreed it; the government shutdown; and eventually the White House backed down. So going after the cash by this route was seen as not playing by the rules.
Second, Democrats and some Republicans regard this as a power grab that could set a dangerous precedent.
In the past, a constant refrain from Republicans was that former President Barack Obama regularly abused executive powers to do things he should have won congressional backing for.
And many of the current batch of Republican Senators will be in situ long after President Trump has departed. They might find it harder, if they’d backed the president now, to argue that a future Democratic president couldn’t use emergency powers to, say, move on gun ownership or climate change.
So these rebellious Republicans get to have their cake and eat it.

A marker has been laid down, but, with no chance of a veto override, the president still gets his way.
Or at least for the time being. Ultimately it will be the nine justices of the Supreme Court who will decide where legitimate authority ends and overreach begins.
Earlier on Thursday Mr Trump called Democrats “border deniers” and said any Republican opposing him would be casting “a vote for Nancy Pelosi”.

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