George Goehl, Felicia Wong
Pfizer’s board of directors will gather in New Jersey on Thursday for the company’s annual shareholders meeting. They will celebrate the enormous success Pfizer had in 2018, having made $53 billion in revenue and over $11 billion in profits, on top of the $11 billion windfall they posted from the Trump tax cuts alone at the end of 2017. Those numbers make Pfizer one of the most profitable companies on Earth. Despite these enormous profits, or perhaps to generate them, Pfizer raised prices on 41 of its prescription drugs in January. While Pfizer executives and shareholders are patting themselves on the back, we need to ask ourselves how to change this level of corporate extraction at the price of American families. Fortunately, there is no shortage of common-sense reforms available. The need for reform is clear, and popular support for lowering drug prices is growing. In moving these proposals forward, we have a chance to create a society in which having fair and affordable access to the life-improving medicines people need supersedes outlandish profit for a few. The result would be a healthier America, and a healthier American economy.
Trump Stalls Like A Mob Boss
How Trump can stall House Democrats. Axios: "President Trump's White House appears to have figured out the secret of congressional oversight: there's not much Democrats can do if they say no to everything. The millions of voters who elected a Democratic House in November are about to find out how hard it is for one party — with just one chamber of Congress and without the cooperation of the other party — to investigate a president who's determined to run out the clock. Yes, House Democrats can subpoena whoever and whatever they want — but those subpoenas are hard to enforce. They can hold administration officials in contempt, but in all of the most recent examples where Congress did that, it fizzled. Usually, the breakdown happens because the Justice Department won't prosecute an administration official if Congress holds them in contempt. Congress hasn't used its strongest contempt power — 'inherent contempt,' where a witness can be put on trial and imprisoned in the Capitol — in nearly a century. What the Trump administration is doing is fighting everything from the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena of former White House counsel Don McGahn to a request for Trump's tax returns. It's also saying no to subpoenas for testimony on security clearances and a citizenship question that's being added to the 2020 census. And Trump and the Trump Organization are suing House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings to block a subpoena for Trump's financial records. The strategy could have a downside even for a White House that lives for these fights. 'It totally undercuts the argument that we've been transparent and because there was no criminal wrongdoing that's why we encouraged everyone to cooperate,' said one former senior White House official. 'Now we look like we've got something to hide and we're not being open and transparent.'"
Deutsche Bank Hands Over Trump Financial Records
Deutsche Bank begins process of providing Trump financial records to New York's attorney general. CNN: "Deutsche Bank has begun the process of providing financial records to New York state's attorney general in response to a subpoena for documents related to loans made to President Donald Trump and his business, according to a person familiar with the production. Last month, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas for records tied to funding for several Trump Organization projects. The state's top legal officer opened a civil probe after Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress in a public hearing that Trump had inflated his assets. Cohen at that time presented copies of financial statements he said had been provided to Deutsche Bank. The New York attorney general's office declined to comment. The bank is in the process of turning over documents, including emails and loan documents, related to Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC; the Trump National Doral Miami; the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago; and the unsuccessful effort to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The bank is already the subject of a joint investigation between the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees into Trump's businesses and money laundering."
Biden Calls Out White Supremacists In Presidential Bid
Joe Biden uses Charlottesville as motivation for 2020 run: 'We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.' USA Today: "Joe Biden is officially in the race for president. His long-awaited answer to the biggest political question in the country the past few months ended on Thursday, making him one of 20 Democrats vying to become the party's 2020 presidential nominee. In his announcement, Biden went after President Donald Trump and the statements he made after violent clashes between activists and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. In the wake of the demonstrations, which killed one person, Trump said there were fine people on 'both sides,' a remark that drew wide condemnation. 'With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence to those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,' Biden said in the video. 'In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.'"
DHS Chief Warned: "Don't Tell Trump" About Election Security Threats
In push for 2020 election security, top official was warned: don’t tell Trump. NYT: "In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election. President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president. Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids. But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it 'wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.' Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections."
Border Militias' Deep Ties In White Nationalism
There's a reason the history of American border militias is riddled with sociopaths and violence. Daily Kos: "The return of border militias in response to Donald Trump’s fearmongering about a “crisis” on the U.S. border with Mexico—and the threats, intimidation, and violence that these militias bring—is not just an accident. Indeed, these militias have played key roles over the past decade-plus in stirring up the politics that put Trump in the White House and help keep him there now. The new border watchers, particularly the United Constitutional Patriots in New Mexico who have been harassing asylum seekers, are very much in the historic mold of the militias who have prowled the southern desert for the past two decades. Fittingly, the leader of the UCP was arrested over the weekend for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Where did these border militias come from? What are they really about? And why do they have such a history of criminality and death attached to them? The idea of a 'citizens border watch' grew out of the longtime embrace by the radical right of vigilante violence, a la the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, the very first such operation was organized in 1977-79 by David Duke and Tom Metzger. The concept gained new life in the 1990s with the rise of the small-cell militia concept as part of a larger “leaderless resistance” against the federal government. The main progenitor of the concept was a California man named Glenn Spencer, who ran an outfit called American Patrol that claimed Latinos wanted to reclaim the U.S. Southwest for Mexico as part of 'Reconquista.'"