Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized a congressional move to weaken a nonpartisan ethics watchdog, giving lawmakers greater control over an independent body charged with investigating their behavior.

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it … may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS” Trump said in two Twitter posts, using DTS to stand for his campaign slogan “Drain the Swamp.”

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives agreed on Monday to weaken the ethics watchdog on the grounds it had grown too intrusive, prompting Democrats to charge they were scaling back independent oversight ahead of a new legislative session.

They voted in a closed-door meeting to place the Office of Congressional Ethics under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, giving lawmakers greater control over an independent body charged with investigating their behavior.

The measure was added to a broader rules package that is expected to pass when the House formally convenes on Tuesday.

Transition team spokesman Sean Spicer was asked whether Trump advocated strengthening the ethics panel.

“It’s not a question of strengthening or weakening, I think it’s a question of priorities and the president-elect believes that with all that this country wants and needs to have happen, this really shouldn’t be the priority,” Spicer said at a news briefing.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement the Office of Congressional Ethics “will continue to operate independently.”

“The Office is still expected to take in complaints of wrongdoing from the public. It will still investigate them thoroughly and independently,” Ryan said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would vote for the package although he did not think it was the right time to implement the change.

“I personally believe most of these reforms are bipartisan-supported reforms,” McCarthy, a Republican, said in an interview with MSNBC.

“Yes it is true that I opposed moving forward on this at this time. Because I thought it was something that both parties should take up at the same time,” he said.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Phil Berlowitz)

IMAGE: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Aston, Pennsylvania, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Michael Flynn

Photo by Tomi T Ahonen/ Twitter

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a "full pardon" for his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a key figure from the start of Russia investigation and the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential transition. The reason for his lying was never fully explained. He also admitted to working as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey while serving on the Trump campaign, work that included publishing a ghost-written op-ed in The Hill that argued for extraditing an American resident who is seen as an enemy of the Turkish government. After admitting to his crimes, Flynn attempted to recant and withdraw his guilty plea, an issue which had yet to be resolved by the courts.

Keep reading... Show less