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Treasury hands Biden records over to GOP after refusing to release Trump tax returns

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The Treasury Department turned over Hunter Biden’s confidential financial records to Republican senators despite refusing to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns as required by law.

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced that they will investigate Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and “his associates during the Obama administration” just one hour after the Senate voted to acquit Trump in an impeachment trial with no new witnesses or documents sparked by the president’s push to investigate his political rivals. There is no evidence nor credible allegations that either Hunter or Joe Biden did anything illegal.

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The senators said the Senate Finance and Homeland Security Committees will investigate Biden’s work in China and Ukraine. They announced the investigation in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, asking for information about “the protective detail that Hunter Biden received while his father was Vice President,” as well as a “list of all dates and locations of travel, international and domestic, for Hunter Biden.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, told Yahoo News, which first reported the story, that the Treasury Department had already complied with the Republicans’ request for documents related to Hunter Biden and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas firm as the heart of Trump’s conspiracy theories.

The Treasury Department has refused to comply with a similar request for Trump’s tax records. The IRS, which is part of the department, is required by law to turn over the tax returns of any American if requested by the chair of the House Appropriations Committee. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flouted the law, refusing to turn over the tax returns and arguing that the request “lacks a legitimate purpose.”

“Applying a blatant double standard, Trump administration agencies like the Treasury Department are rapidly complying with Senate Republican requests — no subpoenas necessary — and producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” Wyden spokesperson Ashley Schapitl told Yahoo. “The administration told House Democrats to go pound sand when their oversight authority was mandatory while voluntarily cooperating with the Senate Republicans’ sideshow at lightning speed.”

A source familiar with the matter told the outlet that the Treasury began turning over Biden’s documents less than two months after Grassley and Johnson sent a request in November. The “rapid” production of such confidential materials is “uncommon,” the outlet noted.

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Shortly after the request was sent, Wyden and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, complained to the department that “information requests from Congress, including legitimate Committee oversight requests related to Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), often take months to process, and we understand that certain such requests have yet to be answered at all.”

Schapitl told the outlet Yahoo News that the warning was “spurred by concern that the agency would prioritize Republican requests over Democratic requests.”

Republicans argued that Grassley first raised concerns that a Democratic National Committee staffer may be coordinating with Ukraine in 2017. But Schapitl pointed out that the scrutiny of Biden “ramped up just as the House impeachment investigation ramped up, providing an avenue for them to pursue the trumped-up investigation President Zelensky did not announce in the face of President Trump’s extortion scheme.”

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“Republicans are turning the Senate into an arm of the president’s political campaign, pursuing an investigation designed to further President Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and smear Vice President Biden,” Schapitl added.

Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy accused Democrats of trying to interfere in their oversight by complaining that their requests were not returned.

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“As a matter of routine, we don’t discuss sensitive third-party material during ongoing investigations,” he told CNN. “It’s unfortunate that Democrats, whom we’ve kept in the loop on our investigations, would recklessly seek to interfere with legitimate government oversight.”

But some Republicans pushed back on the plan to investigate Biden.

“I know there’s been some discussion about the Judiciary Committee taking a look at that. I think what I would like to see happen around here is a return to normalcy,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told The Hill. “People just kind of put their spears down. And let’s get back to work and focus on, I think, what most people in the country think we ought to be doing.”

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Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., argued that the public was not interested in hearing more about the Bidens.

“They are talking about . . . the cost of their insulin. They’re talking about the fact that the roads need to be built,” he told the outlet. “That’s what they’re concerned about. I think we need to speak to the American people’s concerns.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., added that Senate committees are not the place to litigate the Bidens’ finances.

“I think an election is the best way to handle that,” he said.

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Trump officials demanded the Army ‘dig for misconduct’ to justify firing Lt. Col. Vindman

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This week, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman willingly left the Army after decades of honorable service. He cited a concerted campaign of "bullying" from the highest branches of power in the United States, and now more details are becoming known.

A New Yorker report revealed that top aides to President Donald Trump were told that they needed to find dirt on Vindman that could justify the firing of the decorated war hero.

"Vindman expected to go to the National War College this fall—a low-profile assignment—then take another foreign posting," the New Yorker reported. "But, in a final act of revenge, the White House recently made clear that Trump opposed Vindman’s promotion. Senior Administration officials told [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and Ryan McCarthy, the Secretary of the Army, to dig for misconduct that would justify blocking Vindman’s promotion. They couldn’t find anything, multiple sources told me. Others in the military chain of command began to warn Vindman that he would never be deployable overseas again—despite his language skills and regional expertise."

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George Conway reveals how Mary Trump’s book and the Supreme Court prove the ‘walls are closing in’ on the president

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Republican lawyer and "Lincoln Project" co-founder, George Conway, wrote in a Washington Post column Thursday that there are a lot of commonalities in Mary Trump's forthcoming tell-all book and the Supreme Court decision passed down in President Donald Trump's case with New York prosecutor Cy Vance.

Mary Trump, who is a clinical psychologist, delivers "professional judgments about the president's indisputable narcissism and, perhaps, sociopathy dovetail with those that other experts have reached before," wrote Conway. "Yet it's not the possible diagnoses that give Mary Trump's book its punch. It's the factual detail — detail that only a family member could provide."

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Tennessee Republican says he hasn’t ‘really studied’ whether the Civil War was about slavery

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On Thursday, The Tennessean's Natalie Allison reported that Tennessee state Rep. Mike Sparks, who makes a habit of complaining that "young people" and "journalists" don't bother to study history, could not answer a basic question about what the Civil War was fought over.

"Was the Civil War about slavery?" asked a reporter.

"I haven't really studied it," said Sparks.

"You said you know history!" said another reporter.

"I just think we need to all study history," said Sparks, still not answering the question. "There's different contexts."

This comes during a debate over whether to remove a bust of Confederate general and suspected Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. Another lawmaker, state Sen. Joey Hensley, defended Forrest, arguing that "3,000 Blacks attended his funeral" — a common but unproven claim of Confederate sympathizers.

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