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Investigations Pave Path To Impeachment

House Democrats poised to take the baton from Mueller, move toward impeachment. NBC: "Washington is waiting with bated breath for special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into the Trump operation's ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice by the president and his allies, which is widely expected to land soon. But even without those findings in hand, House Democrats effectively launched the impeachment process this week. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, demanded a ream of documents from Trumpworld; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, beefed up his staff; and Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., a member of the Ways and Means Committee, told NBC his panel would likely ask for Trump's tax records in the next 'two, three weeks.' The Mueller report won't be the beginning of the end of the investigation into Trump. Instead, it will be the end of the beginning of a political and legal nightmare that promises to subsume an ever greater portion of his presidency and could, conceivably, lead to his impeachment."

McConnell Blocks Senate Vote On Election Reform

McConnell won't allow vote on election reform bill. Politico: "Republicans ripped into the House Democrats’ electoral reform bill, H.R. 1, at a press conference Wednesday, arguing that the legislation was merely a tactic to tilt elections in favor of Democrats. McConnell, who has dubbed the bill the 'Democrat Politician Protection Act,' said that the bill is “offensive to average voters” and will not get any floor time in the Senate. When asked at a press conference why he wasn’t bringing the House electoral reform bill to the Senate floor, McConnell responded, with a grin: 'Because I get to decide what we vote on.' The bill is slated to pass the Democratically-controlled House this week, fulfilling a campaign promise many members made in the last election cycle to overhaul elections. The legislation contains a series of voting reforms Democrats have long pushed for, including automatic voter registration, expansion of early voting, an endorsement of D.C. statehood and a requirement that independent commissions oversee House redistricting. In addition, the bill requires “dark money” groups to disclose donors. Democrats argue that the bill will make it easier to vote and cracks down on money in politics."

CFPB Poised To Ease Rules On Predatory Lenders

Move to pull consumer protection rule heightens debate over payday lending. NPR: "Under the proposed rule, which did not take effect, lenders would have to determine that borrowers could afford to repay their loans. Now the bureau has proposed rescinding the rule. It is the first high-profile move by Kathy Kraninger, who was confirmed as the CFPB's director in late 2018. Consumer Protection Bureau Aims To Roll Back Rule For Payday Lending
On Thursday, Kraninger is scheduled to face the House Financial Services Committee. Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said she will be scrutinizing the payday lending industry closely. 'We have worked very hard on payday lending, and it is so detrimental to so many communities, and so we are absolutely looking at that and focusing on that and seeing what we can do with that,' Waters said Wednesday. She spoke after reintroducing the Consumers First Act, which was put forward in October 2018 and directs the CFPB to do its job — including maintaining adequate staffing and restoring enforcement for student and military borrowers. The bill may pass in the Democratic-controlled House but is unlikely to pass in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority. The payday loan sector and its advocates say the CFPB under Kraninger and her predecessor, Mick Mulvaney, has corrected government overreach that threatened a vital commercial service. 'We provide consumers from all across the country with the ability to access money when they need it most,' says Jamie Fulmer, senior vice president of public affairs at Advance America. The South Carolina-based company has 1,900 branches across the United States. The firm donated to the Trump inaugural committee. Scott Astrada, director of federal advocacy at the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group, says the industry practices predatory lending and needs to be reined in."

Border Patrol Targets Reporters, Lawyers

U.S. officials made list of reporters, lawyers, activists to question at border. NBC: "Customs and Border Protection has compiled a list of 59 mostly American reporters, attorneys and activists for border agents to stop for questioning when crossing the U.S-Mexican border at San Diego-area checkpoints, and agents have questioned or arrested at least 21 of them, according to documents obtained by NBC station KNSD-TV and interviews with people on the list. Several people on the list confirmed to NBC News that they had been pulled aside at the border after the date the list was compiled and were told they were being questioned as part of a 'national security investigation.' The list includes 10 journalists, seven of them U.S. citizens, a U.S.-based attorney and others labeled as organizers and "instigators," 31 of whom are American. Symbols on the list show that by the time it was compiled 12 of the individuals had already been through additional questioning during border crossings and nine had been arrested."

ICE Targets NYC 'Anti-Trump' Protestors

ICE has kept tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ protestors in New York City. The Nation: "In the late summer of 2018, as protests against the Trump administration’s immigration policies intensified and the movement to abolish ICE gained momentum, the federal agency at the center of the storm was keeping tabs on a series of 'anti-Trump protests' in New York City, according to documents obtained by The Nation via a Freedom of Information Act request. Among the protests the agency tracked were several promoting immigrants’ rights and opposing the administration’s deportation policies as well as one protesting the National Rifle Association. One event was organized by a sitting member of Congress. the “anti-Trump protest” spreadsheet lists protests and marches organized by Young Progressives of America, Refuse Fascism NYC, NYC Says Enough, the New Sanctuary Coalition, and Rise and Resist, which garnered the most citations of any group. In early August of last year, Rise and Resist organized a series of 'Abolish ICE' protests around New York City that targeted prominent Democratic politicians, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as Wall Street and the federal government. The protests all ended up on the “anti-Trump protest” spreadsheet. 'If [the Department of Homeland Security] is specifically focusing on those who are against the current president, it gets into the realm of what fascist regimes do,' says Jody Kuh, a volunteer organizer with Rise and Resist. 'If they are watching us because we are against the current president’s policies, it is more than a little disturbing.'"

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