New York Times
Senior Trump administration officials are quietly discussing whether to end a decades-old process for congressional review that has allowed lawmakers from both parties to block weapons sales to foreign governments over humanitarian concerns, according to current and former administration officials and congressional aides. The move could quickly advance sales of bombs to Saudi Arabia, among other deals.
If adopted, the change would effectively end congressional oversight of the sale of American weapons and offers of training to countries engaged in wars with high civilian casualties or human rights abuses. It would also certainly widen rifts between the administration and Congress.
June 25, 2020
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal judge to order former White House national security adviser John Bolton to stop the release of his book, asserting that his much-anticipated memoir contains classified material.
The move sets up a legal showdown between President Trump and the longtime conservative foreign policy hand, who alleges in his book that the president committed “Ukraine-like transgressions” in a number of foreign policy decisions, according to his publisher.
But the Trump administration stopped short of seeking a court order against Bolton’s publisher to stop the distribution of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” which is due to go on sale June 23 and has already been shipped across the country.
Instead, the civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, accuses Bolton of breach of contract by violating his nondisclosure agreement and asks the court to order him “to instruct or request his publisher, insofar as he has the authority to do so, to further delay the release date.”
June 16, 2020
The Trump administration’s intensifying efforts to block oversight of its coronavirus-related rescue programs are raising new alarms with government watchdogs and lawmakers from both parties amid concerns about the anonymity of companies receiving unprecedented levels of taxpayer funds.
Government watchdogs warned members of Congress last week that previously unknown Trump administration legal decisions could substantially block their ability to oversee more than $1 trillion in spending related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to four congressional committee chairs Thursday, two officials in charge of a new government watchdog entity revealed that the Trump administration had issued legal rulings curtailing independent oversight of Cares Act funding.
The letter surfaced amid growing bipartisan frustration over the administration’s decision not to disclose how it is spending hundreds of billions in aid for businesses. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to bow to that pressure, saying he would work with Congress on new oversight measures. But some Democrats have said the White House is not taking disclosure requests seriously enough. […]
According to the previously undisclosed letter, Treasury Department attorneys concluded that the administration is not required to provide the watchdogs with information about the beneficiaries of programs created by the Cares Act’s “Division A.” That section includes some of the most controversial and expensive programs in the coronavirus response efforts, including the administration’s massive bailout for small businesses and nearly $500 billion in loans for corporations.
June 15, 2020