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Tillerson has recused himself from Keystone pipeline issues: State Dept.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from issues related to TransCanada Corp’s application for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said in a letter on Thursday to the environmental group Greenpeace.

“He has not worked on that matter at the Department of State, and will play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution of TransCanada’s application,” said the letter from Katherine McManus, the State Department’s deputy legal adviser.

McManus’ letter came after Greenpeace wrote to officials at the State Department and the Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday, urging Tillerson recuse himself from any decisions on the multibillion-dollar pipeline, given his former role as chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp..

Greenpeace argued in its letter that Exxon Mobil would “directly and predictably” benefit from the approval of Keystone XL because the firm has investments in Canadian oil sands.

Tillerson recused himself from the matter in early February, McManus wrote.

TransCanada tried for more than five years to build the 1,179-mile (1,897-km) pipeline, until President Barack Obama rejected it in 2015.

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TransCanada resubmitted its application for the Keystone project in January, after Obama’s White House successor, Donald Trump, signed an order smoothing its path.

The line is designed to link existing pipeline networks in Canada and the United States to bring crude from Alberta and North Dakota to refineries in Illinois en route to the Gulf of Mexico.

Exxon has a majority stake in Imperial Oil, a Calgary, -Alberta-based company that operates the Kearl oil sands project in northern Alberta.

“Exxon Mobil could benefit from the approval of the pipeline if it has specific contracts or agreements with TransCanada either to transport their Canadian tar sands production, or to receive such shipments at their U.S. refineries,” Greenpeace wrote in its letter on Wednesday.

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Tillerson wrote in a January letter to McManus that for one year after his resignation from Exxon Mobil, he “will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which I know that Exxon Mobil is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate.”

He also wrote that “on a case-by-case basis,” he would recuse himself “from participation in any particular matter involving specific parties in which I determine that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question my impartiality in the matter, unless I am first authorized to participate.”

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Federal Reserve chair defiant in face of Trump threats: ‘The law is clear — I have a four-year term’

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sounded a defiant note on Wednesday as he announced that there would be no further cuts to interest rates for the time being.

Even though President Donald Trump has been publicly calling for a rate cut to spur additional economic growth ahead of his reelection campaign, Powell kept interest rates at their current level and signaled that he did not foresee any interest rate cuts for the rest of the year.

Powell was asked by a reporter if he was concerned about being "demoted" by Trump in the wake of this announcement, the Federal Reserve Chairman said he wasn't worried.

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John Dean explains the big mistake Hope Hicks made by stonewalling Congress

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Former White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, said Wednesday on CNN that there was a serious flaw in the attempt to prevent longtime Trump confidant Hope Hicks from testifying to Congress.

White House lawyers have asserted that Hicks has absolute immunity and is not legally required to testify about her time as Trump's director of communications. Hicks testified Wednesday during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee — where she reportedly refused to answer questions about her White House job.

"Privilege is not being asserted here. Instead, the White House says that Hicks has absolute immunity regarding the time that she spent at 1600 Pennsylvania. Does absolute immunity even exist? And if so, can you explain to me the difference between the two?" CNN host Brooke Baldwin asked Dean.

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GOP gangs up on AOC: Top Republican demands Ocasio-Cortez apologize to the entire world – she refuses

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The Republican machine is in fifth gear right now, speeding to attack one of their top Democratic targets: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

At issue, a video the New York Democrat recorded in which she calls the migrant detention camps on the U.S. Southern border "concentration camps."

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