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Senate Democrats boycott committee vote on Trump nominees Mnuchin and Price

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U.S. Senate Democrats on Tuesday boycotted a planned committee vote on two of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury secretary and Tom Price to head the Health and Human Services department, delaying the vote.

At least one Democrat must be present for the committee votes to take place. Democrats said they were postponing the vote because they wanted more information on Price’s stock trades in an Australian medical company and reports that Mnuchin’s former bank, OneWest, used automated “robo-signings” of foreclosure documents, which apparently contradicted statements the nominees had made to senators.

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Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called the Democratic boycott “shocking” and “offensive.”

“They’re going to vote no. They’ve made that very clear,” he said to other Republicans on the committee. “I think they ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots. What’s the matter with the other party? Are they that bitter about Donald Trump?”

Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters Democrats were not ready to consider either nominee.

“We’ve made clear that we need additional information to make these judgments,” he said.

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The Democrats said they wanted more information about Price and Mnuchin after media reports appeared to contradict statements that they had made in confirmation hearings and subsequent written statements.

In the Mnuchin’s case, the Columbus Dispatch cited documents showing that OneWest used automated “robo-signings” – a method for approving mortgage documents that was criticized for not fully considering them – after the former Goldman Sachs executive and OneWest chairman flatly denied those practices to senators.

Wyden said Democrats also wanted more information about a Wall Street Journal article that said Price received a privileged offer to buy a biomedical stock at a discount, contrary to his congressional testimony this month.

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Price had testified the discounted shares he bought in Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd were available to all other investors at the time but the Journal said that in fact he was one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors who were invited last year to buy the discounted shares.

“The company is directly contradicting Congressman Price, indicating he didn’t tell the truth. And he misled the Congress and he misled the American people,” Wyden said.

Barney Keller, a spokesman for Mnuchin’s transition, dismissed the Ohio newspaper’s report as “bogus,” saying courts had already rejected allegations that a OneWest official’s signings of documents cited in the report were “robo-signings.”

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(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Lawder; Editing by Bill Trott)


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Japan wants to dump Fukushima radioactive water into ocean

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Japan's top government spokesman slapped down the environment minister on Tuesday after he said there was "no other option" but to release radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

"It is not true that we have decided on the disposal method," Chief Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters after Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada's comments earlier in the day.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), is storing more than one million tonnes of contaminated water in tanks at the site of Fukushima Daiichi Plant that was wrecked by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

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Here’s one big reason why Trump is having a white-hot meltdown over the Fed not dropping interest rates

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President Donald Trump has a personal conflict-of-interest that may be impacting his decisions in his public feud with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

"President Trump stands to save millions of dollars annually in interest on outstanding loans on his hotels and resorts if the Federal Reserve lowers rates as he has been demanding, according to public filings and financial experts," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

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Trump approves of North Korea missile tests: ‘I have no problem’ because they’re just ‘short-range missiles’

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On Thursday, in conversation with reporters, President Donald Trump said that he had 'no problem' with North Korea's new round of missile tests.

"Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that," said Trump. "I have no problem, we'll see what happens, but these are short-range missiles. They're very standard."

The thought that short-range missiles would still be capable of hitting our allies in the region, like South Korea and Japan, does not seem to have occurred to him.

Watch below:

Trump says he has "no problem" with North Korea testing missiles because they are just "short-range missiles" that are "very standard." pic.twitter.com/fdKtQ6yrBE

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