Newswire: Nancy Pelosi announces a formal Impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump

By Addy Baird, BuzzFeedNews

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker

WASHINGTON — After months of tamping down calls for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that she’s on board, a move that could upend Donald Trump’s presidency just barely a year out from the 2020 election.
“Today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” the speaker told reporters after meeting with the Democratic caucus Tuesday afternoon. Pelosi said she will direct six House committees to investigate Trump “under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry,” adding, “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
While the Judiciary Committee has already begun an impeachment investigation, Pelosi announced that the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Oversight, Ways and Means, and Financial Services committees will now formally join them in a broader inquiry.
The committees’ investigation is just a first step toward impeachment — a majority of the full House would still need to vote on articles of impeachment in order to indict Trump. The Senate is then responsible for holding an impeachment trial, but Republicans are unlikely to pursue one.
Pelosi’s announcement comes amid reports that Trump withheld aid from Ukraine and pressured its president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s family ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump’s reaction to the announcement, predictably, was a series of tweets sent from Trump Tower as Pelosi spoke and in the minutes after. In one, he wrote that Democrats “purposely had to ruin and demean” his “important” day at the United Nations “with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage.” He also noted that Democrats hadn’t yet seen a transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president.
Democrats’ messaging on impeachment has been muddled in recent weeks. The Judiciary Committee has begun the formal process of setting up an impeachment investigation, and many of its members have argued since July that the House is already in an inquiry stage. While Pelosi had backed those efforts, she resisted calls for impeachment.
More than 170 Democrats had come out in support of an impeachment inquiry as of Tuesday afternoon, including many members in more conservative districts. Their support for the measure appeared to finally sway Pelosi, who has argued for months that the House cannot pursue an inquiry without having all the facts and has publicly worried impeachment would be too divisive and could lose Democrats their majority.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell of the Alabama 7th District was among those who announced her support for the Impeachment investigation following Speaker Pelosi’s lead.
CNN reported Tuesday afternoon that Pelosi was encouraging her members to state their positions on an inquiry now, in order to make it clear to the public that there is a groundswell of support in the caucus. Pelosi also reportedly said she believes now that the American public understands the issue.
Several Democratic presidential contenders have announced or renewed calls for Trump to be impeached as the Ukraine story has unfolded. And many of the speaker’s allies announced their support for an inquiry Tuesday ahead of Pelosi’s own announcement.
“We cannot delay. We must not wait. Now is the time to act,” Rep. John Lewis of Georgia said on the House floor. “I have been patient as we tried every other path and used every other tool … I truly believe the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come.”
While the full story about Trump’s recent phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains unclear, the Washington Post reported on Monday that Trump put a hold on $400 million in aid to the country in the days before the call. When the two leaders did speak, Trump reportedly pushed for information on Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who had a seat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. (Notably, Joe Biden is currently leading the Democratic primary field.)
The House and Senate have been working to get information related to a whistleblower’s complaint, which is reportedly related to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, but have been stymied by the Trump administration. Pelosi also announced that the House will hold a vote Wednesday to formally condemn Trump’s attempts to block Congress from obtaining the complaint. The Senate passed a (similarly nonbinding) resolution Tuesday afternoon requesting a copy of the whistleblower’s complaint as well.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that he had ordered the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine” to be released on Wednesday. “You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo!,” he wrote.
But Democrats were quick to say that releasing the transcript was not enough, and soon after Trump’s announcement, Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff made an announcement of his own, saying on Twitter that the whistleblower who originally raised concerns about the call wanted to speak to the committee and has requested guidance from the acting director of National Intelligence about how to do so.
“We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week,” Schiff wrote.
Paul McLeod contributed to this story.

Newswire : Trump selects ‘climate crisis skeptic’ Sam Clovis to be chief scientist at USDA

By: Center for Food Safety

Sam Clovis

Sam Clovis

In yet another attack on science, President Trump has nominated Sam Clovis — an Iowa radio talk show host with no scientific or agricultural background and a history of making racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks — to be the chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Clovis is an admitted climate change “skeptic”, saying that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” The Center says that farmers need USDA to help them address and adapt to a changing climate, not stick its head in the sand. We all know agriculture has a big role to play in being a solution to climate change, but that won’t happen with Clovis at the helm of scientific research.
The position Clovis has been nominated for oversees a budget of nearly $3 billion and is responsible for agriculture and natural resource issues. The Farm Bill requires that the person in this position be a scientist, stating that the nominee “shall be appointed by the President . . . from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” The Center and other Washington ‘think-tank groups’ say, “He’s not an agricultural scientist, nor is he an agricultural economist. In short, he is simply not qualified for this position.”
To make matters worse, Clovis has a history of making racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks. Clovis has made racist remarks about former President Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and Van Jones, among others; sexist remarks about House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and all Democratic women; and compared protecting marriage equality and LGBTQ rights to protecting pedophilia.
The USDA proclaims that is serves farmers of all races, genders, and sexual orientations but this appointment goes against that spirit says the Center for Food Safety. They are urging all farmers to contact their members of the U. S. Senate to vote against the appointment of Sam Clovis to this critical position.

Obama condemns Trump for ‘rejecting the future’ by exiting Paris climate deal

By: Sabrina Siddiqui and Lauren Gambino, Guardian
Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Barack Obama led condemnation of his successor’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord, which the former president’s administration painstakingly negotiated over the course of several years.
In a statement released just before Donald Trump officially announced that the US would remove itself from the deal, Obama said the administration had joined “a small handful of nations that reject the future”. He warned that the more than 190 countries that remained participants would “reap the benefits in jobs and industries created”, but he said that US states, cities and businesses “will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got”.
The rare rebuke by Obama was testament to the magnitude of Trump’s decision. The former president has commented sparingly on the new administration, weighing in only on matters he has framed as of moral significance, such as Trump’s stymied effort to impose a travel ban on refugees and citizens from several Muslim-majority countries.
Trump’s withdrawal from the accord was not just a blow to one of Obama’s signature achievements, but to an issue routinely dubbed by the Obama administration as the greatest threat to US national security and future generations across the globe.
The former secretary of state John Kerry, who represented the US in the negotiations over the Paris accord, said Trump had turned America into “an environmental pariah in the world”.
In exiting the agreement, the US joined only Syria and Nicaragua in sitting on the sidelines even as widespread condemnation poured in from foreign leaders, climate scientists and many leading US companies.
The reaction in Washington was nonetheless split on familiar partisan lines, with Republican lawmakers near unanimously throwing their support behind Trump while Democrats vowed revenge at the ballot box.
Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who have long sought to thwart Obama’s environmental legacy, applauded Trump in their statements.
“The Paris climate agreement was simply a raw deal for America,” Ryan said, adding: “In order to unleash the power of the American economy, our government must encourage production of American energy. I commend President Trump for fulfilling his commitment to the American people and withdrawing from this bad deal.”
McConnell said Trump’s move followed through on congressional action “to rebuff then-President Obama’s regulatory rampage.”
“When the previous administration signed America up for this unattainable mandate, we made it clear we would fight this unilateral action any way we could, and this day could not have happened soon enough,” McConnell said. “President Trump has once again put families and jobs ahead of leftwing ideology and should be commended for his action.”
But at least some Republicans – from Florida, one of many coastal states grappling with the effects of extreme weather and rising sea levels – expressed disappointment with the president’s decision to withdraw.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents south Florida, urged the US to establish a “long term-strategy against climate change”. She also noted that Thursday marked the first day of hurricane season in the state.
Democrats were uniformly scathing in their assessment of Trump’s decision, with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer declaring it “a devastating failure of historic proportions”.
“Future generations will look back on President Trump’s decision as one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing,” Schumer said. “Pulling out of the Paris agreement doesn’t put America first. It puts America last in recognizing science, in being a world leader and protecting our own shore line, our economy and our planet.”
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said Trump’s position ran counter to that of Pope Francis, who during the president’s recent visit to the Vatican presented Trump with a copy of his encyclical on climate change.
Democrats would join efforts with states, cities and the private sector to make good on initiatives to mitigate the threat of climate change, she added, “regardless of the reckless and short-sighted actions that the White House takes”.
Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who made climate change a pillar of his bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, decried Trump’s action as “an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace”. “When climate change is already causing devastating harm, we don’t have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet,” Sanders tweeted.