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House panel demands Kushner clearance details from White House with threat of subpoena

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A Democratic-led congressional panel on Friday demanded that the White House comply with requests for documents and witnesses for a probe into alleged security clearance abuses involving President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and others.

After weeks of White House stonewalling, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, in a letter to the White House, said “I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation.” Cummings panel has subpoena power.

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Cummings highlighted in his letter a New York Times story that said Trump ordered his former chief of staff John Kelly to provide Kushner with clearance over objections from Kelly and Donald McGahn, then White House counsel.

The Times said Kelly and McGahn both wrote memos about the incident and that McGahn outlined concerns raised about Kushner by career security officials, including CIA officers.

“If true, these new reports raise grave questions about what derogatory information career officials obtained about Mr. Kushner to recommend denying him access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” Cummings wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in the March 1 letter, which appeared to set the stage for his committee to subpoena the material.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Oversight Committee launched its investigation on Jan 23. Cummings said he and his staff have since written and spoken to White House officials multiple times about obtaining documents and witnesses, but to no avail.

Kushner’s temporary clearance was suspended by Kelly in February 2018, along with other officials operating under temporary clearances, as part of measures to tighten procedures after White House staff secretary Rob Porter was fired when his two ex-wives raised charges of domestic abuse.

Cummings said he has provided the White House with detailed descriptions of security clearance abuses by at least nine high-level White House officials including Kushner and current and former national security advisers.

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The House Democrat’s letter included a transcript from a Jan. 31 Times interview with Trump, in which the president denied ordering Kelly to overrule security officials and provide clearances for Kushner. Trump said he did not think he had the authority to overrule security officials on clearance matters, according to the letter.

But White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told an NBC interviewer on Friday that Trump has said he has “absolute authority” to order security clearances.

Cummings gave the White House until Monday to respond to his latest demands. His panel’s probe is part of a wide-ranging effort by House of Representatives Democrats, launched since they took majority control of the chamber in January, to investigate Trump, his presidency and his business interests.

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US ‘lies’ slammed after Mike Pompeo blames Iran for drone attacks without proof

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Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi forcefully rejected Sunday unsubstantiated charges by by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) regarding the recent drone attacks that caused serious damage to two crucial Saudi Arabian oil installations.

“It has been around 5 years that the Saudi-led coalition has kept the flames of war alive in the region by repeatedly launching aggression against Yemen and committing different types of war crimes, and the Yemenis have also shown that they are standing up to war and aggression,” Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said in a statement.

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Why are college students so stressed out? It’s not because they’re ‘snowflakes’

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Across the country, college classes are well underway, the excitement of the start of the year is waning and student stress is on the rise. Frantic calls home and panicked visits to student health services will start to dramatically increase. And before long, parents and observers will start wondering what is wrong with these kids. Why can’t they handle the pressures of college and just pull it together?

College student stress is nothing new. Anxieties over homesickness, social pressures, challenging course loads and more have been a common feature of the U.S. college experience for decades. But, without question, student stress levels and psychological distress are measurably worse than before. According to a national study published earlier this year in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, major depression among young adults (18-25) rose 63 percent between 2009 and 2017. They also report that the rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts or other suicide-related outcomes increased 47 percent from 2008 to 2017.

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Kaiser healthcare workers plan for nation’s largest strike since 1997

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More than 80,000 Kaiser Permanente emergency medical technicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other staffers are threatening to walk out of work next month, in what could be the nation's largest strike since 1997.

The authorization to strike, approved by 98% of the union members who voted, does not mean a walk out will happen, but it does allow union leaders to call one as early as Oct. 1, giving them leverage ahead of negotiations with the California-based health care giant. Kaiser Permanente, comprised of 39 hospitals and nearly 700 medical officers, serves more than 12 million members in seven states across the country.

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