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Republican-led committee is now ‘ratcheting up pressure’ on Trump as scrutiny over whistleblower intensifies

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Since the explosion of the scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s efforts to induce Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Democrats have mostly taken the lead in drawing attention to the blatant corruption. But that changed Tuesday, when the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee revealed its own investigation into the matter and requested that an intelligence community whistleblower appear in closed session by the end of the week.

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Chair Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, wrote a letter to lawyer Andrew Bakaj, the lawyer representing the still-unidentified whistleblower, asking for the testimony “no later than Friday, September 27, 2019, in a mutually agreeable secure location.” Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff first reported on the letter. The committee said the hearing would be conducted to “ascertain an appropriate path forward for your client while protecting your client’s privacy.” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia signed the letter as well.

Isikoff noted that this effort signals that Congress is “ratcheting up pressure on White House.”

Since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in 2019, most oversight of the president and the administration has occurred in the committees controlled by the opposition party. While those investigations have touched on wide-ranging allegations of abuse and misconduct, the newest controversy has the potential to be the most incendiary yet. For all the furor and partisan bickering surrounding the case, the basic facts don’t seem to be in dispute: Trump, via his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and in his own account of a phone call, has been pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, in an apparent attempt to smear his potential 2020 rival. At the same time, Trump has been delaying military aid from Ukraine that Congress had already approved. It is pretty much as clear an abuse of power as one can imagine.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff first drew attention to the whistleblower complaint supposedly tied to this issue, and he has been at the forefront thus far of pressing for more information from the administration. Now, however, it seems at least one powerful Republican — Burr — is interested in having questions answered about the series of events, a signal that there may be more danger here for the president than he might have thought.


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Food safety groups warn of looming zoonotic pandemic, blast USDA’s new slaughter plant regulation

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"Self-regulation when it comes to animal movement, slaughter, and meat inspection is bad news."

Food safety advocates warned Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's USDA newly implemented rules for pig slaughter are setting the stage for a potential public health disaster—including the possibility of another infectious disease that could come from animals.

At issue is the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS), which the USDA finalized in October. Touted by the federal agency as a "modernization" effort, the regulation sparked immediate fears and lawsuits by watchdog groups over its elimination of kill speed limits and weakening of the inspection system.

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Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor’s effort to postpone election — and protect voters from COVID-19

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Hours after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing this week's election to June, the state Supreme Court ordered the election must proceed as scheduled.

BREAKING: The Wisconsin Supreme Court has blocked Gov. Tony Evers' executive order postponing the spring election in the state. Tomorrow's election IS BACK ON https://t.co/nZz9D4IsA3

— Zach Montellaro (@ZachMontellaro) April 6, 2020

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US begins blood tests for coronavirus immunity: reports

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The United States has begun taking blood samples from across the country to determine the true number of people infected with the coronavirus, using a test that works retrospectively, according to reports.

The new tests are based on serological surveys, which differ from the nasal swabs used to determine if someone currently has the virus.

Instead, they look for whether certain antibodies are present in the blood which shows that the person fought and then recovered from the illness -- even if they never showed symptoms.

These tests are seen as key to gradually easing lockdown, by allowing those who have proven immunity to re-enter society.

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