Congress

Cohen, Cooper sign onto lawsuit attacking Trump’s foreign business dealings

Tennessee’s two Democratic congressmen, Reps. Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville, are among about 200 members of Congress signing on as plaintiffs in a federal court lawsuit that contends President Donald Trump’s foreign business dealings may violate a provision of the Constitution.

Quote from a Cooper press release:

“The Constitution says our president should be free from all foreign influence,” Rep. Cooper said. “Since President Trump shows no sign of changing, Congress must ask the courts to enforce the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.”

Quote from a Cohen press release:

“The Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause is a vital protection against foreign governments’ corrupting influence.” said Congressman Cohen. “The American people should have total confidence that the President is serving their interest, not his own financial enrichment.  President Trump’s refusal to disclose information to Congress or seek Congress’s authorization for accepting profits from foreign governments stemming from his sprawling foreign financial interests is a brazen violation of the Constitution and a danger to our democracy.”

The full Cohen press release is HERE; the full Cooper press release HERE.

DesJarlais among six congressmen on reported Hodgkinson ‘assassination list’

Tennessee’s Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ name was on a handwritten list of six Republican congressmen – all members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — found in the van of James Hodgkinson, the slain shooter who wounded Rep. Steven Scalise and five others on Wednesday.

The Daily Caller initially reported the FBI’s discovery of the note late Friday. Multiple other media outlets have followed with similar reports.

Besides DesJarlais, Fox News says those on the “assassination list” were Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona,  Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Morgan Griffith of Virginia.

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Puerto Rico statehood advocates follow 1796 ‘Tennessee Plan’ (but without support of today’s TN legislators)

Tennessee has been getting name-dropped during the recent attention on whether the island of Puerto Rico will become the 51st state because of a move that Tennessee forefathers took more than two centuries ago, reports WPLN — with a link to a website promoting Puerto Rico statehood under the headline, ‘Tennessee and the Tennessee Plan.’

In the recent legislative session, the current Tennessee legislature balked at a proposal to declare support for Puerto Rico statehood.

More than 200 years ago, Tennessee was still a territory and its early settlers were impatient — hoping for Congress to start the process toward statehood. Instead, local leaders went ahead and declared the territory a state. The people voted in favor, a government was formed and a constitution written. Then the trick was to persuade Congress to make all of those moves official, and that did happen in 1796.

Since then, six other states have used this aggressive method to move toward statehood.

Earlier this month, residents of Puerto Rico voted in favor of becoming a state (despite a ballot process that was messy and drew scant turnout).  Those in favor are still running with the results, continuing with the tactic of fake-it-till-you-make-it.

NBC News reports that a delegation of seven — meant to resemble two senators and five House members — will petition Congress and lobby for support. Just like Tennessee did.

Note: State Rep. Tilman Goins, R-Morristown, sponsored a resolution (HJR31) in the 2017 legislative session that, as originally drafted, urged Congress to approve statehood for Puerto Rico.  It was substantially watered down via amendment to instead urge Congress “to work with the territorial government of Puerto Rico to ensure a definitive and authoritative act of democratic self-determination” in the then-upcoming election. In that form, the resolution passed the House 53-24 on April 20. But it then died in the Senate Finance Committee, which never brought the matter up for a vote before adjournment of the session.

Fleischmann slightly injured fleeing ‘horrible’ shooting at congressional baseball practice

Tennessee’s Rep. Chuck Fleischmann was present when a gunman began shooting at a baseball practice session for congressmen today that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise wounded, according to multiple media accounts. The third district congressman was slightly hurt while running to take cover from the gunman.

From Michael Collins’ report:

The Ooltewah Republican was shaken, but not hit.

“It’s just a madhouse here,” he said during a phone call from the scene. “It’s horrible. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

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TN politician commentary on Comey (‘Big distraction,’ says Haslam)

A roundup of some comments on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a congressional committee Thursday:

From Gov. Bill Haslam and former Gov. Don Sundquist, via WBIR TV:

“To me, the big issue, to me, is all of this ends up being such a big distraction,” Haslam said. “Forget your politics, which side you are on, Democrat or Republican, the unfortunate reality of this is you have something like this going on around you, you are not very effective at delivering good government.”

Haslam said from what he knows now, he does not think President Trump obstructed justice. Former governor Don Sundquist agreed.

“I learned that [President Donald] Trump is not a candidate for prosecution,” Sundquist said. “Comey, I think, is distressed over the fact he was fired. He was embarrassed, and a president has the right to name their own person.”

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TV ad criticizes Blackburn for working with ‘liberal Massachusetts senator’ on hearing aid bill

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is being attacked in a TV ad campaign for working with Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in supporting  legislation that would allow over-the-counter sales of hearing aids, reports Buzzfeed.

Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative educational foundation, is launching a six-figure advertising campaign to derail the Massachusetts Democrat and potential 2020 presidential candidate in her bipartisan push to allow for over-the-counter hearing aid sales.

To do so, the group is aiming to discourage supportive Republicans by linking them to a New England liberal. Commercials will air in three GOP congressional districts, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s in Tennessee. Blackburn was an original co-sponsor of the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 in the House.

“Liberal Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is at it again,” a narrator says in the spot targeting Blackburn. “But this time she has help — help from our Republican congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn. Warren and Blackburn have introduced hearing aid legislation that will eliminate states’ rights, expand the size and power of the federal government, resulting in higher prices for consumers. We expect these bait-and-switch liberal tactics from Elizabeth Warren, not Marsha Blackburn. Call Marsha Blackburn and tell her to represent our Tennessee values, not those of a liberal Massachusetts senator.”

The ad campaign is another example of Republican-allied organizations aiming to weaken Warren ahead of her 2018 re-election bid and any future run for the White House. (America Rising, a GOP opposition research group, already has made Warren a top target.) But in this case, a low-key policy issue is at the center of the fight, and Frontiers of Freedom is going so far as to signal that Republicans who work with Warren do so at their political risk.

Besides, Blackburn, Frontiers of Freedom is airing ads in districts represented by Buddy Carter of Georgia and Michael Burgess of Texas. Like Blackburn, they are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will tackle the bill. Carter also is an original co-sponsor. Burgess presides over the Health subcommittee.

Hagerty gets Senate committee OK to become ambassador to Japan

News release from Sen. Bob Corker

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today (Wednesday) joined members of the committee in approving the nomination of William Hagerty to serve as U.S. ambassador to Japan. The nomination will now be considered by the full Senate.

“There is no one more well-suited to fill this important role than Bill Hagerty,” said Corker. “Our nation will benefit from his leadership and experience as he carries on the tremendous legacy of U.S. ambassadors to Japan, and I look forward to his confirmation very soon.”

Note: The Tennessean observes that, if confirmed by the Senate, Hagerty – a former head of the state Department of Economic and Community Development who worked in vetting Trump administration appointees —  would become the third Tennessean to serve in the post.

Former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn., who died in 2014, was ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.

Luke Edward White, who was born in Giles County, served in the post from 1906 to 1907 under President Teddy Roosevelt.

 

Duncan bashes Washington Post reporter in House floor speech

Republican U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., who earlier this year said President Donald Trump was wrong in declaring the press an “enemy of the people,” on Tuesday delivered a brief House floor speech denouncing The Washington Post and its White House bureau chief, Philip Rucker.

Duncan singled out a Tuesday article by Rucker bearing the headline “Trump reacts to London terror by stoking fear and renewing feud with mayor.

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U.S. Senate Democrats want Hagerty to answer questions about vetting of Michael Flynn

Start of an Associated Press story:

Senate Democrats are pressing the businessman President Donald Trump nominated to be ambassador to Japan for answers about the vetting of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to congressional aides.

William F. Hagerty served as director of presidential appointments for Trump’s transition team. One aide said Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee want to know “who knew what and when” about Flynn’s background. The aides were not authorized to speak publicly about the requests to the Tennessee businessman and requested anonymity.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said “questions for the record” were sent to Hagerty before Congress left for a weeklong Memorial Day break. Coons said he thought Hagerty did well during his confirmation hearing last month. But Coons said he was unaware until recently of Hagerty’s role in the staffing of Trump’s administration.

“I think how his nomination proceeds will in some part depend upon what those answers are,” Coons said.

Flynn is a central figure in the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. The House and Senate Intelligence committees also are examining Russia’s meddling in the election.

Note: Hagerty formerly served as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and worked in the presidential campaigns of both Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.

Note: Previous post on Hagerty breezing through the Senate committee hearing on his nomination as ambassador to Japan is HERE.

Black delaying governor announcement until after finishing U.S. House budget work?

Rep. Diane Black will have to step down as chair of the House Budget Committee if she announces as  candidate for governor, reports The Hill, but is still likely to do so later this year – “perhaps as soon as this summer.” The Washington publication quotes “House colleagues and GOP sources.”

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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