Two ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr

Two ethics groups are calling on the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General William BarrBill BarrEx-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. ‘will ignore’ Trump’s threats against political rivals Pompeo says he expects more Clinton emails to be released before election Trump calls into Rush Limbaugh’s show for two hours MORE, alleging he has used the role for political reasons to support President TrumpDonald John TrumpDes Moines mayor says he’s worried about coronavirus spread at Trump rally Judiciary Committee Democrats pen second letter to DOJ over Barrett disclosures: ‘raises more questions that it answers’ Trump asks campaign to schedule daily events for him until election: report MORE

According to Reuters, the two groups are the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law and the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The groups wrote in a 267-page research paper that Barr has an “authoritarian worldview” that “makes him see himself as entitled to ignore laws, ethics, and historical practices” as the attorney general. The report also called on House lawmakers to begin an impeachment inquiry into Barr.

The report from the group points to Barr’s involvement in the release of the final findings of former Special Counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE‘s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election among other actions. 

It’s not the first time Barr has faced calls to be impeached. Earlier this year, Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenJewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen wins Democratic primary Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat MORE (D-Tenn.), an outspoken progressive on the House Judiciary Committee, called for Barr to be impeached, alleging violations of the law.

“We should pursue impeachment of Bill Barr because he is reigning terror on the rule of law,” Cohen said in June.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Pelosi calls Trump administration policies on testing and tracing inadequate Trump claims he is ‘immune’ from coronavirus, defends federal response MORE (D-Calif.) threw cold water on the idea, saying that voters will be able to make that decision at the ballot box in November. 

“So he is contemptible, there’s no question about that. But at this point, let’s solve our problems by going to the polls and voting on Election Day, 131 days from now,” Pelosi said at the time.


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Warren County fire department makes history as all-female interior crew responds to call | Regional

WASHINGTON BOROUGH, N.J. – The Washington Borough Fire Department in Warren County, New Jersey made history last week when its first all-female interior crew responded to a call.

The department recently added three certified firefighters to its volunteer roster; all are women.

Destinee Hartrum, her cousin Stephanie Hartrum and Deanna Harrington said they didn’t plan to join at the same time but wanted to serve their communities. They have spent the better part of a year in fire school training to do so.

“There is over 100 years of fire service in my family, so I kind of felt like it was the right thing to do,” said Destinee.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fewer than 10% of firefighters are female. Washington Borough Chief Dirk Higgins estimates that number to be even smaller in Warren County.

“We have the ability to have role models that we can showcase to young girls in our community and say ‘hey, you can be a fire fighter too,'” Higgins said.

Deanna Harrington said she spent about five years working in EMS before attending the fire academy. And that while some people in the community may be surprised to see a woman under the gear, the rest of the Washington Borough department is not.

“You hear of stories from other women from other parts of the country but here I’ve never felt treated differently. I just feel just another one of the guys, a fire fighter, you get treated with equal respect. They know you can do your job; you know they can do their job and that’s what really matters,” Harrington said.

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House members call on FAA to ‘fully reveal the data’ proving the 737 Max is safe to fly

In their letter, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the House Transportation Committee, and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) called on the FAA “to publicly release all documents related to design revisions or evaluations related to the aircraft’s safe return to service.”

Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya was killed on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on March 10, 2019, had made a similar request Wednesday and Dickson said at a news conference that he faced limits in revealing such technical details.

“We’re providing everything we can, within the law. Much of the data, I believe, that’s being asked for is proprietary,” Dickson said Wednesday.

But DeFazio and Larsen pressed the issue again Thursday “in the strongest possible terms.” Both Boeing and the FAA had mistakenly found the flawed flight control feature that led to the crashes “to be compliant” with federal safety standards, according to their letter, “despite the fact that the aircraft was actually unsafe.”

“To assure the flying public that Boeing’s fixes to the MAX have rendered the plane safe to once again carry passengers, the FAA will need to do more than merely certify that the plane is now compliant,” they wrote.

They said Dickson should release, among other documentation, “system safety assessments, related analysis, assumptions about pilot response times and key test data concerning the safety of the aircraft.” They said the FAA “should fully reveal the data any determination to unground the MAX has been based upon.”

In a statement, the FAA declined to say whether it would release the requested data or call on Boeing to release such information itself.

“We will respond directly to the members,” the statement said.

Boeing declined to address whether it supports the release of the information or would agree to waive any claim that the requested documentation may be proprietary.

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House Democrats call for audit of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s ‘no-bid’ coronavirus spending

Tennessee House Democrats are now joining the political fight over coronavirus relief spending, following recent attacks on Nashville by Gov. Bill Lee and House Republican legislative leadership.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Tennessee State Capitol Monday, March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

© Alan Poizner / For The Tennessean
Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Tennessee State Capitol Monday, March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

After Lee earlier this month denied Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s request for an $82 million portion of the state’s federal coronavirus relief funds — money that would be on top of $121 million the city already directly received from the federal government — House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, last week asked the state comptroller to review Nashville’s spending of COVID-19 stimulus dollars.

But on Tuesday, in a letter spearheaded by Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, half of the House Democratic Caucus requested from Comptroller Justin Wilson an audit of their own: looking at the Lee administration’s spending of federal coronavirus funds.

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In addition to billions of other dollars in earmarked COVID-19 stimulus funds, Tennessee received $2.3 billion in from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, which allows states and some cities broad flexibility in how the money is spent.

“Our sincere fiscal concerns stem from the Lee administration’s well-documented history of awarding no-bid contracts to vendors,” Clemmons wrote.

He cited the administration’s award of a $1.2 million annual contract with ClassWallet. Awarded before the pandemic, the agreement with the Florida-based company was reached outside of the state’s established procurement process. The state hired the company to administer Tennessee’s education savings account program.

Clemmons then referenced tens of millions of dollars in expenditures using coronavirus relief funds, including more than $8 million in a no-bid contract to North Carolina-based sock company Renfro. Tennessee hired the company to produce 5 million masks that would be distributed to citizens.

He listed other contracts for personal protective equipment that have raised eyebrows as well, including one with a furniture company owned by state Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, previously reported by NewsChannel 5.

“Fair questions about political connections and favoritism to supporters have been raised about the reasons for Gov. Lee’s highly suspect business dealings on behalf of our state,” Clemmons wrote. “Whether Governor Bill Lee is simply guilty of fiscal mismanagement and/or administrative incompetence or whether he has abused his broad emergency powers to enrich political allies and donors with no-bid state contracts are questions worthy of investigation.

“At the very least, the people of Tennessee deserve to know how, where, and why their hard-earned tax dollars were spent and to whom they were paid.”

Under Tennessee’s state of emergency, which has been in effect due to the pandemic since March, Lee by law has been authorized to make purchases without following the usual bidding process.

The governor has defended the state’s use of the emergency, no-bid procurement process, saying the state needed to make recent purchases quickly.

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After 2018 ‘wake-up call,’ Tarrant Republicans scramble to fend off Democrats in Texas House races

One in a series about elections for the Texas House of Representatives

AUSTIN — Texas Democrats like their chances this election cycle. If you need proof, look no further than deep-red Tarrant County.

For years, it’s been the largest urban county in the state still voting Republican. In November, Democrats will compete in seven of the eight state house districts held by the GOP in the county. Democrats came within a few thousand votes of victory in five of those races in 2018.

So is the Democratic challenge real this year?

Republicans are not taking it lightly, but despite Democrats’ growing strength, GOP lawmakers remain confident they will keep Tarrant red.

“Last cycle was a wake-up call for a lot of people who perhaps have been complacent when they’ve had a challenger,” said State Rep. Craig Goldman, a four-term Republican incumbent who has a Democratic and Libertarian challenger. “I’m going to run a vigorous campaign and I know my fellow state house candidates will as well. I feel confident that we will win.”

Democratic momentum

When she took over as chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party in 2013, Deborah Peoples said she knew there were more Democrats than were being reflected in the election results. But they weren’t engaged — and many weren’t voting.

“They didn’t vote because they didn’t feel we had a chance,” she said.

She wanted to grow the vote by expanding the number of races the party was competing in. Slowly, the party started ramping up its infrastructure and candidate recruitment.

Then came 2018. On the tails of a galvanizing U.S. Senate run by former congressman Beto O’Rourke, Democrats made huge strides. They won the county for O’Rourke, took over a seat on the county commissioners court and one justice of the peace position. More surprisingly, they gave state house Republicans some very close calls.

That got people’s attention.

Alisa Simmons, the president of the Arlington NAACP, had long considered a run for House District 94 in southeast Tarrant but didn’t see a viable path to victory.

“I’ve always looked at this seat and just was not very confident that I could win for a variety of reasons,” she said. “I’d think, ‘I’ve got little kids, I don’t know if my job would let me.’ Maybe I was just too chicken. I found all sorts of excuses not to run.”

That changed in 2018 when the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Tony Tinderholt garnered 44% of the vote. That convinced Simmons she could make a serious challenge.

With significant Black and Latino populations, the district always had the demographic potential to flip, she said. The excitement from the last election has carried over, but she knows it will be a difficult road.

“This district is or has historically been conservative,” she said. “This is not going to be easy. But it’s doable.”

Republicans are ready

Luke Macias, political consultant for Tinderholt, said there’s no doubt the 2018 election gave Democrats hope. But this year,

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40 groups call on House panel to investigate Pentagon’s use of coronavirus funds

A coalition of 40 organizations from across the political spectrum is calling for a congressional investigation into how the Pentagon used $1 billion in coronavirus relief funds.

In a letter to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the groups also urged lawmakers to consider passing a new bill to suspend the Department of Defense’s (DOD) authority to use the funding.

“We believe the Pentagon’s decision-making with these funds, as recently reported, violates congressional intent at minimum, and represents a significant breach of trust with the taxpayers who fund the military’s budget and its emergency spending,” the organizations wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill ahead of its public release.

The letter was organized by progressive group Win Without War, the right-leaning National Taxpayers Union and the Project on Government Oversight.

“We believe that the select subcommittee should investigate when, how, and why the Pentagon decided that it could use these specific CARES Act funds in contravention of Congressional intent,” the letter said. “Any findings should be shared with the public to the maximum extent practicable. We would also ask that the select subcommittee consider recommending a rescission of DoD’s budget authority for this $1 billion fund in order to ensure Congress’s constitutional spending authority is not being violated.”

A subcommittee spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter, which comes after a Washington Post report Tuesday detailed how the Pentagon has used most of a $1 billion fund allocated by the CARES Act on defense contractors rather than medical supplies.

The DOD awarded contracts for jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms, among other military equipment, which critics argue is in contravention of the CARES Act stipulation that the funds be used to “prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.”

The Pentagon has defended itself, arguing the money was never intended to be restricted to medical supplies, that it kept Congress fully informed of its plans and that helping the defense industrial bases through the pandemic is an appropriate response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“As indicated by recent reporting, there appears to be a misunderstanding by some about what the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act) did and did not do with respect to the Department of Defense,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a seven-paragraph statement Wednesday.

“The CARES Act did not limit — nor did it intend to limit in its language — the use of Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III to only medical resources,” he added. “As part of the efforts to mitigate economic damage, the act allowed monies to be spent to support individuals and industries that had been impacted by COVID. This is exactly what DOD has done.”

While the Post report provided new details on the exact contracts the Pentagon has awarded, the department notified Congress in late May it planned to use $688 million of the funding to shore up the defense industrial base. Several news outlets, including the

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‘The bathroom conversations are now open’: Bay Area artists react to call for change in theater

Director Lauren Spencer works during a rehearsal for “Black Butterflies” at American Conservatory Theater. Spencer is among those not surprised by an online posting about the experiences of people of color in theater. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle 2017

If any white people were surprised by the depth and length of “The Living Document of BIPOC Experiences in Bay Area Theater,” local artists of color weren’t.

When actor, activist and teaching artist Lauren Spencer read the document, she thought, “I guess all the bathroom conversations are now open. So many incidents in that document I knew about.” It reminded her of the candid conversations she’s had often with fellow artists of color about racism in the industry, only now, not behind closed doors.

“There was a sense of sunshine, it pouring over the valley,” which “felt like a relief, a little bit,” she says.

People of color in Bay Area theater demand bold steps toward racial justice in online documents

Others felt it could have gone even further.

“I was honestly surprised there wasn’t more stories of racism,” says Baruch Porras-Hernandez, a writer, performer and stand-up comedian. “When I was trying to work as an actor full time, back around the 2006-ish years, I remember there being absolutely no room for these type of conversations. It was looked down upon. Even bringing it up was considered dangerous by most actors of color. You could be labeled ‘difficult’ and have your ability to get work completely disappear.”

San Francisco Mime Troupe member Velina Brown says the online document reveals how people are afraid to speak up. Photo: Nick Otto, Special to The Chronicle

For San Francisco Mime Troupe member Velina Brown, the “Living Document” demonstrates how “people are afraid to say in the moment, ‘This is not OK.’” It suggests that workers get shut down when they try to speak out. She sees the document as the consequence of getting dismissed over and over: “Those feelings don’t go away,” she says.

* * *

Marin Theatre Company’s Artistic director Jasson Minadakis (left) and playwright Thomas Bradshaw (right) watch actor Mark Anderson Philips during rehearsal of “Thomas and Sally.” The director and playwright were criticized for their handling of the play. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle 2017

Some local white theater leaders say this document and others circulating online have influenced their companies’ plans.

Marin Theatre Company was mentioned in the “Living Document” and a June 13 statement from a “Coalition of Black Women Professional Theatre Makers in the Bay Area, California.” Both cited its controversial 2017 world premiere of “Thomas and Sally,” Thomas Bradshaw’s play imagining the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the slave who bore him six children.

The coalition’s statement says Marin Theatre Company failed to follow through on commitments made in 2017: “At that time, they agreed to take accountability for the harmful impacts of their commissioning, development, and production of ‘Thomas and Sally’ by Thomas Bradshaw, and for their responses to gentle and rigorous questioning

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House Dems call for an ‘emergency’ DOJ watchdog review of Durham probe

President Donald Trump has sought more prosecutions related to Durham’s probe, and has called for FBI and intelligence officials he views as his political enemies to be punished.

The Democrats are asking Horowitz to expedite a review of various aspects of Barr’s comments and Durham’s review. Among them: Whether Barr’s public commentary complies with DOJ policy and the 2018 inspector general report; whether DOJ has implemented Horowitz’s earlier recommendations on politically sensitive investigations; if a Durham report issued before the election would comply with department policies; whether Durham has the legal authority to be conducting his probe, including a formal scope memo; and whether Durham is permitted to issue a public report about anyone who hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Senate Democrats sought a similar probe in a letter to Horowitz on Thursday.

Barr has rejected the notion that any findings issued by Durham ahead of the election would inappropriately influence the campaign. He has argued that DOJ practices prohibit such steps but only if they are aimed at candidates themselves or their very close associates.

Barr has publicly indicated that the Durham probe does not contemplate investigating former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden or former President Barack Obama. He has at times publicly characterized potentially explosive findings in Durham’s investigation but has denied that there’s political pressure to move it quickly.

Last week, a top Durham aide and long-serving federal prosecutor, Nora Dannehy, resigned from the DOJ amid a push from the president to publish the results of the probe before the election.

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House Dems Call For Investigation Into Forced Hysterectomy Claims

Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform called for a federal investigation on Tuesday into allegations that detainees at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia were receiving unwarranted hysterectomies.

Reports of inadequate conditions for both detainees and employees were the subject of a whistleblower letter filed with the Office of Joseph V. Cuffari, the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on Monday. In the letter, a nurse at Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) alleged that some detainees had hysterectomies performed on them without explanation. Conditions at the ICDC were often allegedly unsanitary, even in areas reserved for medical examinations or quarantining detainees.

In the Tuesday letter to the DHS Inspector General, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Chairman Jamie Raskin of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties requested “an emergency investigation into shocking allegations of medical atrocities and detainee mistreatment” at the ICDC.

According to the letter, members of the committee visited the ICDC in September 2019, “during which they observed alarmingly urgent health and safety issues.” Although the DHS said the committee’s findings would be factored into future inspection visits to the detention center, no progress updates were made to the committee.

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Maloney and Raskin requested that Cuffari schedule a briefing for an update on the DHS’s findings, incorporating any findings regarding the allegation in the whistleblower letter.

Newsweek reached out to the office of the DHS Inspector General for comment.

ICE, detention center
Some Democratic lawmakers called for an investigation into allegations of “medical atrocities” that took place at an immigrant detention center in Georgia.
David McNew/Getty

In the letter detailing the alleged abuses at ICDC released by advocacy group Project South, whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a registered nurse employed by ICDC, said the number of hysterectomies performed on detained immigrant women raised a “red flag.” Wooten described the doctor performing the hysterectomies as “the uterus collector.”

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“Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out,” Wooten said. “What in the world.”

Wooten also alleged that hysterectomies are performed without consent.

“I’ve had several inmates tell me that they’ve been to see the doctor and they’ve had hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going,” Wooten said.

Some requests by detainees for medical attention were allegedly shredded, according to Wooten. Medical and quarantine areas were also allegedly cleaned haphazardly, leaving the floors and tables in examination rooms dirty.

In a Tuesday statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if the allegations about the conditions at the ICDC were true, they constituted a “staggering abuse of human rights.”

“Congress and the American people need to know why and under what conditions so many women, reportedly without their informed consent, were pushed to undergo this extremely invasive and life-altering procedure,” Pelosi added.

Jewish advocacy group Bend the Arc said ICE’s actions were tantamount to “genocide.”

“Forced sterilization is genocide,”

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Call the police on parties and don’t mingle, says UK interior minister

By Sarah Young

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters)British minister Priti Patel said on Tuesday she would call the police to report anyone who flouted a new ban on gatherings of more than six people, suggesting that people who stopped for a chat on the street were breaking new coronavirus laws.

COVID-19 cases across the UK have risen sharply in recent weeks, prompting the government to bring in the new rules to restrict socialising, at the same time as health bosses have said there are problems with accessing tests.

Patel said that people needed to help stop the spread of the disease, and that included calling the police on neighbours. She even suggested that families should not mingle with friends they bumped into on the street.

“If I saw something that I thought was inappropriate, then quite frankly I would effectively call the police,” she told Sky News.

“It’s not about dobbing in neighbours, I think it’s all about us taking personal responsibility. If there was a big party taking place, it would be right to call the police.”

Asked to define “mingling” – also not allowed under the new rules – she said it was “people coming together” and that if two families of four stopped for a chat in the street they would be infringing the law.

“It is mingling, I think it’s absolutely mingling,” she told BBC radio.

The social clampdown comes amid concern that people are struggling to get tests for COVID-19, especially in areas where the infection rates are highest.

Patel said that tests were available for people in their local areas, and that Public Health England was adding capacity and ensuring more testing was available on a daily basis.

“The majority of tests are available within a 10-mile (16-km) radius,” she told BBC TV, although she conceded that in some extreme cases people wouldn’t be able to get a test within that radius.

UK media reported many examples of people in virus hotspots unable to get tests, while NHS Providers, a body representing hospital, community and ambulance services in the state-run health service, said on Twitter that current testing shortages were starting to impact health services.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout and Michael Holden, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

(([email protected]; +44 207 542 7064; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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