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The White House left a secret subtext in the Nunes memo that they could later use to undermine Congress

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The White House included a portion meant to undermine Congressional oversight when releasing the House Intelligence Committee’s controversial memo alleging abuses at the FBI and Justice Department.

“Public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns,” White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in the cover letter addressed to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) when declassifying the memo last Friday.

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As Slate reported, this portion “buried” within McGahn’s cover letter acts as a means to undermine Congress’ ability to release information without the president, and suggests “the House or Senate’s release of classified information to the public may happen only at the sufferance of the executive branch.”

Slate’s Daniel Schuman broke McGahn’s argument into four assertions: that the executive branch “has primacy on national security matters” and is tasked with providing classified information to Congress, that “Congress’ power to release classified information is somehow weak” and that the White House can override Congress when releasing classified information like the contents of Nunes’ memo.

“This is a misreading of the law and a misunderstanding of Congress’ role as a co-equal branch of government with oversight powers over the executive,” Schuman wrote.

“When read together, these assertions could be viewed as an attempt to pre-empt further releases of information by Congress, either by claiming such efforts are not legitimate (or somehow are unconstitutional) or by refusing to provide information demanded by Congress,” he continued. “These assertions are flat out wrong.”

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Schuman went on to argue that Congress and the executive branch “share responsibility on national security matters.” Congress’ power to release classified information separate from the White House was protected after Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK), then the chairman of the Senate Public Works Committee, made a single-man motion to read the Pentagon Papers on the Senate floor in 1971. When he and his staff were tried before a grand jury for releasing that information, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that they were protected by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution.

Read Schuman’s entire analysis of McGahn’s “sneaky legal ploy” via Slate.

 

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‘The wheels are coming off’: MSNBC panel says Trump told his chief of staff to ‘walk the plank’

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Two MSNBC anchors discussed Thursday's whirlwind day of breaking news in scandals involving President Donald Trump.

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" joined Brian Williams on "The 11th Hour" to discuss Trump holding the G7 Summit at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course and the White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confessing that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine -- before attempting to walk back his confession.

"Did things change today, do you think?" Williams asked.

"I do feel like the wheels are coming off," Maddow said.

"For the Energy Secretary [Rick Perry] to resign, you've had two cabinet secretaries resign during the impeachment proceedings already, one of whom, the current one resigning tonight, the Energy Secretary, does appear to be involved in the scheme, at least on a couple of different levels. We have got the White House Chief of Staff who was sent out today, not only to make the, 'Yes, it was quid pro quo. Yes, we did it. What are you going to make of it?' article -- which was bracing, but then to take it back, simultaneously announcing this self-dealing, which is something more blatant than we’ve ever seen from any president in U.S. history," she explained.

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Rick Wilson rips Trump for holding G7 meeting at his ‘South Florida House of Bed Bugs Hotel’

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Republican strategist Rick Willson blasted President Donald Trump after the administration announced that the G7 meeting of world leaders would be held at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course.

Chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney announced the severely under-performing resort would receive the lucrative contract during a contentious White House briefing.

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2020 Election

Trump impersonated a CNN anchor — and a US president — during epic meltdown at Texas speech

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President Donald Trump offered multiple impersonations during a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Trump showed the crowd his impersonation of a president of the United States -- and a CNN anchor.

"No guns. No religion. No oil. No natural gas," Trump said. "Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas under those circumstances. Couldn’t do it."

In fact, Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas when he ran for president as the state refused to print any ballots with his name.

He then showed the audience two impersonations as part of his 87-minute speech.

"I used it to say, I can be more presidential. Look," Trump said, as he shuffled awkwardly on stage.

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