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REVEALED: Burning Houston chemical plant successfully lobbied Trump to strike down safety rules

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Arkema, the company that owns the chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, that suffered at least two separate explosions on Thursday, successfully lobbied the Trump administration to delay new safety rules for chemical plants that were due to take effect this year.

The International Business Times reports that Obama-era regulations of chemical plants that were supposed to take effect this past March 14 “were halted by the Trump administration after a furious lobbying campaign by plant owner Arkema and its affiliated trade association, the American Chemistry Council, which represents a chemical industry that has poured tens of millions of dollars into federal elections.”

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In killing the new rules, the industry had the help of several Texas Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. Pete Olson, Rep. Pete Sessions and Rep. Kevin Brady. Democratic Texas Rep. Gene Green also lobbied to have the new regulations killed.

Arkema directly objected to the new proposed rules in a letter it sent to the EPA this past May, in which it said the rules “will likely add significant new costs and burdens to the corporate audit process.”

According to the International Business Times, Arkema specifically took issue with new “Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis” (STAA) rules that would have, among other things, encouraged companies to “simplify covered processes in order to make accidental releases less likely or the impacts of such releases less severe.”

Read the whole analysis at this link.

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‘Devastating for Trump’: Former White House lawyer says president’s defense ‘has entirely collapsed’ with Sondland testimony

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland will present "devastating" testimony, as evidenced by leaked copies of his opening statement.

Sondland directly will implicate President Donald Trump for a "quid pro quo" in his opening testimony.

Neal Katyal, the former acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration, offered his analysis of the testimony on Wednesday.

Katyal's analysis offers the implications for Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Katyal suggests will need to be subpoenaed by House Democrats.

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Sondland says Ukrainians knew there was a quid pro quo for military aid — because he told them

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E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland's opening statement contains a blizzard of damning allegations about President Donald Trump and his immediate officials' conduct surrounding the withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine.

In particular, Sondland's statement directly contradicts a major talking point used by Republicans to defend the president: That there couldn't have been a quid pro quo to force the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, because the Ukrainians did not know the delay in military aid was linked to opening investigations.

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‘We followed the president’s orders’: Sondland leaves no wiggle room for Trump’s direct involvement in Ukraine scandal

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European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland will leave no wiggle room for President Donald Trump to deny his direct involvement in the Ukraine scandal in his bombshell opening statement.

As reported by the Daily Beast, Sondland will testify that he followed President Donald Trump's orders to work with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on dealing with Ukraine, despite the fact that he was personally reluctant to do so.

"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States," the statement says. "We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders."

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