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House Oversight threatens Justice Department official with contempt for bucking subpoena

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By Dartunorro Clark

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform threatened Thursday to hold a Justice Department official in contempt of Congress after the agency refused to comply with a subpoena seeking testimony and documents related to the 2020 census citizenship question.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee chairman, sent a letter dated Wednesday to Attorney General William Barr instructing him to make John Gore, a principal deputy assistant attorney general, available to answer questions related to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the census.

“The committee expects Mr. Gore to testify in accordance with the Committee’s lawful subpoena and the Committee’s rules,” Cummings wrote in the letter shared with NBC News Thursday by a committee spokesperson. “If Mr. Gore fails to comply with the subpoena, the Committee will consider him to be in contempt of Congress.”

Gore, who was slated to testify Thursday, did not appear. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cumming’s move comes weeks before the Supreme Court is set to consider whether the Trump administration’s addition of the citizenship question violates the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act. Three federal judges have already ruled that Ross’s actions were unconstitutional and violated federal law.

Ross, whose agency oversees the Census Bureau, faced tough questioning last month from Democrats during a committee hearing about whether he lied to Congress about his decision to add the question.

Gore emerged as a key figure during the hearing. Ross claimed he decided to add the question in December 2017 after he learned that the Justice Department might want it included, a rationale Democrats rejected.

The committee voted earlier this month, 23-14, to issue a subpoena to compel Gore to testify and the Trump administration to provide additional information about the citizenship question.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter earlier this week to the committee that he would not make Gore available unless a department representative accompanied him. However, committee rules prohibit DOJ lawyers from attending. Boyd, however, claimed the rule “would unconstitutionally infringe upon the prerogatives of the executive branch.”

Alex Moe contributed.

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‘Don’t blame Boris – it’s YOUR fault,’ ex-UKIP MEP tells Philip Hammond

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EX-UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn has launched a savage attack on Philip Hammond after the former chancellor claimed a no deal Brexit would be a “betrayal” of the 2016 referendum result – accusing him of being responsible for the UK’s failure to leave the EU in the first place and calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend him and other Remainers from the Parliamentary Conservative Party.

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Steve King questions if humanity would exist without ‘rape or incest’

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Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, questioned on Wednesday whether humanity would exist if not for the rapes and incest that happened throughout history.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest?,” he said at a speech in Urbandale, Iowa. “Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that has taken place? And whatever happened to culture after society, I know that I can’t certify that that I am not a part of the product of that.”

King was speaking in defense of an anti-abortion bill he sought to pass in Congress that would not allow for exceptions for pregnancies that were the result of rape or incest. The congressman’s remarks to the Westside Conservative Club near Des Moines were first reported by The Des Moines Register.

According to the newspaper, King touched on another recent controversy of his — this one involving the blowback he faced over a January New York Times quote on white nationalism and white supremacy. King was quoted as saying “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

King on Wednesday claimed political insiders told him there was a plot to get him out of office, including having President Donald Trump criticize him. But King said he met with Trump and there was “no signal from Donald Trump that he’s anything other than supportive of me.”

The January comments led to multiple high-level Republicans denouncing his remarks and him being stripped of his committee assignments. Soon after, the House formally condemned white nationalism and white supremacy.

His comments on Wednesday drew backlash from a slew of prominent Democrats, including many of the 2020 presidential candidates. New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called on King to resign.

Other presidential candidates, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, encouraged voters to donate to King’s Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten. Scholten accused King of “excusing violence” and said that “his comments are disrespectful to survivors and don’t reflect Iowan values.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg told MSNBC that King’s remarks were “extremely disturbing.”

“I would think anybody who had said something that extreme would resign,” he said. “But then again, I doubt that he’ll actually do it. So we’re just going to have to beat him the old fashioned way.”

King’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Josh Lederman and Alex Moe contributed.



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Pelosi knocks ‘Moscow Mitch’ for blocking gun, election interference bills

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed ‘Moscow Mitch’ – a derisive nickname for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – in a speech on Wednesday for blocking bills aimed at preventing gun violence and foreign election interference.

“We all want to invest in building our democracy and saving it from any enemies foreign and domestic, so we’ve sent our legislation to the Senate,” Pelosi said at the Illinois Democrats’ “Democrat Day” event in Springfield. “‘Moscow Mitch’ says that he is the ‘Grim Reaper” … that he’s going to bury all this legislation. Well, we have news for him. All this legislation is alive and well in the general public.”

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been sharply criticized in recent weeks after he blocked two election security bills that Democrats put forward following former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony on Russian election interference. Mueller warned that Russia was already preparing to interfere in the 2020 election “as we sit here,” calling the Kremlin’s efforts “the new normal.” McConnell’s decision the nickname ‘Moscow Mitch,’ suggesting he is giving cover to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has expressed anger about the nickname comparing the attacks to “modern-day McCarthyism.”

Pelosi’s call to action comes as Democrats ramp up pressure the Senate to pass a universal background check bill after the two shootings — one in Dayton, Ohio, and another in El Paso, Texas — left at least 29 dead and 53 injured in a matter of just 13 hours. The Senate is currently in recess until September. McConnell, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, has not signaled he would end the break.

McConnell has also drawn criticism from Democrats for blocking H.R.8, or the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the Democrat-controlled House in February 240-190.

“We must pass gun violence prevention legislation. Every day we lose lives,” Pelosi said. “We’ve been waiting since February, and now public sentiment must weigh in to save lives to pass our bill.”

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