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Koch brothers and Saudi oil execs lobbied Trump to remove chemical plant safety rules

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New documents reveal that the Houston chemical plant, whose post-Harvey burning could have been prevented, was successfully lobbied by American and foreign interests to remove regulations.

In an International Business Times investigation, reporters found that along with the plant itself, an oil company from Saudi Arabia joined forces with Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to lobby against chemical industry regulations.

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The Arkema plant and its allies in the chemical industry, Congress and the foreign oil industry opposed safety regulations that would have “[simplified] covered processes in order to make accidental releases less likely or the impacts of such releases less severe” if they’d been implemented.

On Thursday, shortly after safety experts warned about imminent explosions caused by the plant’s cooling system being flooded, two explosions occurred at Arkema. FEMA officials said the fumes from the explosion are “incredibly deadly.”

The explosion resulted in the hospitalization of 15 sheriff’s deputies who inhaled fumes from the resultant fire, the New York Daily News reports.

https://twitter.com/davidsirota/status/903380689059332096

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‘Not a pretty picture’: Second-ranking GOP senator inches closer to impeachment after Bill Taylor testimony

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The second-ranking Republican senator sounded an alarm over testimony by the former Ukraine ambassador.

GOP Whip John Thune (R-SD) reacted to testimony Tuesday by veteran diplomat Bill Taylor, who told lawmakers that President Donald Trump directed efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden in exchange for congressionally approved military aid.

"The picture coming out based on the reporting we’ve seen is not a good one," Thune told reporters Wednesday, "but I would say until we have a process that allows to see this with full transparency it’s pretty hard to come to hard and fast conclusions."

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‘Horde of clueless angry white men’: Internet mocks Matt Gaetz for leading a raid on a secure impeachment hearing

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On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led a gang of two dozen conservative lawmakers as they barged into a classified evidence meeting in the impeachment proceeding against President Donald Trump.

Gaetz — who is not a member of the Intelligence Committee but has demanded the right to review sensitive evidence as if he is one — received scorn from commenters on social media for his stunt:

This is their plan? I’m so fucking relieved we’re up against Matt Gaetz.

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BUSTED: Newly uncovered White House budget docs undercut one of Trump’s last defenses in Ukraine scandal

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President Donald Trump's insistence that he only pushed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden because he was concerned about "corruption" has been one of his primary defenses against House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

However, the Washington Post has uncovered some White House budget documents that directly undercut the president's defense.

According to the Post, the Trump administration "has sought repeatedly to cut foreign aid programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas" even though the White House has insisted that it is laser-focused on promoting good governance in the country.

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