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Dems Troll Trump At SOTU

Democrats are trolling Trump with their State of the Union invites. WaPo:
"The powder-keg partisanship that drove Capitol Hill into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history is not likely to cool by Tuesday’s State of the Union address. As President Trump settles into the House chamber, he’ll be looking out at a Congress that remains divided in both parties over his border wall, and addressing a nation where his approval rating has dropped to the mid-30s. But also attending the national address will be a number of figures whose attendance alone stands as a rebuke to the president’s agenda. The lineup of 2019 attendees include the likes of transgender soldiers threatened by the administration’s controversial military ban and undocumented workers who once punched the clock at Trump’s own properties. As The Post reported, a number of Democrats, including freshman Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) and presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), have tapped federal workers or family members hit hard by the government shutdown to attend the State of the Union. But others have opted for choices that tie directly back into the most heated controversies of Trump’s first two years in office. On Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) announced via Twitter she was inviting Ana Maria Archila to the speech. A sexual assault activist, Archila went viral when she confronted then-Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in an elevator last year over the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. According to Washington Blade, four Democrats — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) — have all invited transgender veterans and service members to Trump’s address, a direct protest of the administration’s ban on transgender individuals in the military."

Criminal Probe Of Trump Campaign Deepens

Federal prosecutors issue sweeping subpoena for documents from Trump inaugural committee, a sign of a deepening criminal probe. WaPo: "Federal prosecutors in New York on Monday delivered a sweeping request for documents related to donations and spending by President Trump’s inaugural committee, a sign of a deepening criminal investigation into activities related to the nonprofit organization. A wide-ranging subpoena served on the inaugural committee Monday seeks an array of documents, including all information related to inaugural donors, vendors, contractors, bank accounts of the inaugural committee and any information related to foreign contributors to the committee, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post. Only U.S. citizens and legal residents can legally donate to a committee established to finance presidential inaugural festivities. “We have just received a subpoena for documents. While we are still reviewing the subpoena, it is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry,” a spokesman for the committee said in a statement. The subpoena — issued by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York — indicates that prosecutors are investigating crimes related to conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail fraud, false statements, wire fraud and money laundering. The subpoena also specifically seeks all communications with one donor, Los Angeles venture capitalist Imaad Zuberi, as well as the firm with which he is affiliated, Avenue Ventures. The company donated $900,000 to the inaugural committee, records show."

Oil Lobbyist To Lead Dept. Of Interior

Trump selects former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to oversee interior department. Guardian: "David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas and water lobbyist, will be nominated to run the interior department, Donald Trump tweeted. Bernhardt was deputy secretary and has been running the department since Ryan Zinke stepped down at the end of the year. Environmental groups have accused him of making regulatory decisions on the country’s natural resources to benefit industries, and he has led plans to weaken endangered species protections. He is expected to continue the Trump administration’s priorities to advance oil and gas drilling and mining on or near public land. As acting secretary, Bernhardt drew criticism in recent weeks from environmental groups, tribes and others for continuing to process paperwork for oil and gas projects while other agencies were closed for routine work during this winter’s partial government shutdown. The interior department called its effort important to bolstering US energy independence. “Bernhardt got this nomination as a reward for months of work cramming America’s natural heritage into a wood chipper,” said Kieran Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity advocacy group, one of many environmental organizations condemning Trump’s intended nomination. “Confirming him as interior secretary would be a boon to polluters and a colossal disaster for our public lands and endangered species.”

Groups Back Push For Green New Deal

Demanding lawmakers forge 'Path Away From Climate Suicide,' groups kick off Green New Deal push. Common Dreams: "Building on the grassroots momentum that has thrust the Green New Deal onto a national stage, a coalition of progressive groups on Monday launched a week of action to demand climate leadership from federal lawmakers, calling for a plan to fully phase out fossil fuels and rapidly reform industries that produce massive amounts of planet-warming emissions while also promoting economic justice. 'To take action on climate change at the scale of the crisis, we need a Green New Deal," declared May Boeve, executive director of 'It's time for all progressive lawmakers to take real climate action and support a massive federal investment to bring health, safety, and justice to people and the planet.' The Green New Deal desired by climate campaigners and a growing cohort of Democrats in Congress, led by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), would pair sweeping policies to cut emissions, including a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, with programs to create jobs."

The Plan To Bury Trump's Taxes

The plan to keep Trump’s taxes hidden. Politico: "The new House Democratic majority is widely expected to test one of Donald Trump’s ultimate red lines by demanding the president’s personal tax returns — and the Trump administration has been gearing up for months to fight back hard. Trump's Treasury Department is readying plans to drag the expected Democratic request for Trump’s past tax filings, which he has closely guarded, into a quagmire of arcane legal arguments. At the same time, officials plan to publicly cast the request as an nakedly partisan exercise. The two-pronged plan was developed by a handful of top political appointees and lawyers inside the department — with the ultimate goal of keeping the president’s past returns private, according to four people familiar with the administration’s approach. The strategy will hinge on an argument that politically motivated Democrats will inevitably leak Trump’s tax information — a felony in and of itself — if the IRS hands over the documents. So because Democrats can’t be trusted to keep the documents private, they shouldn’t get them in the first place, officials will insist. Treasury officials have been waiting since early January for a top Democrat to make the request."

Dems, Lone Republican Want Back Pay For Workers

90 Democrats, one lone Republican sign onto a bill giving back pay to federal contract workers. ThinkProgress: "Darshea Browne finally returned to patrolling the halls of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum last week, after the federal shutdown forced her and her fellow security guards off the job in December. Browne, who lives in Washington, D.C., lost five weeks’ wages — nearly 10 percent of her annual income — and has no idea if she’ll ever see that money. She knows that unlike other federal government employees, as a contract worker, there is no guarantee that she will be compensated for her lost pay. 'I lost about $1,500 to $2,000” in wages, Browne, 22, told ThinkProgress. “I would like to get my back pay, because I’m a hard worker just like any other federal worker.' As of Friday, 40 Senate Democrats and 50 Democrats in the House had endorsed legislation that would give back pay to federal contract workers. So far, the bill has the backing of just one lone GOP lawmaker, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). 'I’m hopeful and I’m optimistic' that the measure eventually will garner bipartisan support, said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) author of the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, which would to provide full back pay to the lowest paid contract workers and partial remuneration to the others."

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