Michael Flynn's troubles mount – The Hill

Michael Flynn has his back against the wall.

The leaders of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday said the former national security adviser might have broken the law by accepting payments from Russia and Turkey, and later by misleading the government about them.

The White House later in the day sought to distance itself from Flynn, who was forced to resign in February over phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.

Meanwhile, Flynn’s offers to testify before the House and Senate Intelligence committees in exchange for immunity remained unanswered.

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It all appears ominous for Flynn, who less than a year ago was close to President Trump and leading chants of “lock her up” against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiserMichael Flynn’s troubles mountWriter who pushed ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory says he’ll attend WH briefingMORE during the Republican National Convention. Now, he is the subject of multiple investigations.

Flynn’s troubles deepened Tuesday, when House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzMichael Flynn’s troubles mountOvernight Cybersecurity: DNC hackers also targeted French presidential candidate | Ex-acting AG Yates to testify at Senate Russia hearing Schumer: Flynn news may be ‘tip of the iceberg’MORE (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) gave a damning review of Pentagon documents they viewed that morning. 

“Personally, I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” said Chaffetz, who earlier this month announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his term. 

According to Chaffetz and Cummings, the documents showed that Flynn did not disclose a paid speaking engagement in Russia when he applied to renew his security clearance, nor did he seek permission to accept the funds. 

As a retired military officer, Flynn is prohibited under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from accepting payment from a foreign government without advance permission from both the secretary of State and the secretary of the Army. 

Further, according to Cummings, Flynn applied to renew his security clearance in January 2016 — using a form called an SF-86 — just months after he traveled to Moscow. 

But there is “no evidence in the documents that he reported funds he received for his trip” and “no evidence he sought permission to obtain these funds from a foreign source,” Cummings said Tuesday, noting that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact in an SF-86 is a felony. 

While he was working for the Trump campaign, Flynn’s firm was also paid as a lobbyist for a Turkish consultancy. 

Flynn declined to disclose the payments from Russia in his original financial disclosure forms submitted to the White House in February.

He filed an amended disclosure last month reporting payments for speeches from three Russian-linked companies, including the government-backed network RT, but remains under intense scrutiny amid the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election. 

Congressional investigators had previously exposed that Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at an event hosted by RT, during which he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also received payments for additional speeches to Russian firms Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr. 

In a brief statement Tuesday, Flynn’s lawyer said that the former intelligence official briefed the Defense Department “extensively” before and after the 2015 trip to Russia. 

The Oversight Committee in March requested documents from the Defense Department and several other agencies about the payments to Flynn. 

The panel is also seeking a wide swath of documents from the White House related to what Flynn reported when he was vetted to become national security adviser.

 But the White House is refusing to provide that information, calling the request “extraordinary.” 

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said the committee is requesting documents that are not in the possession of the White House because they involved Flynn’s activity prior to Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Other documents sought by the committee, from after Jan. 20, involve sensitive information, he said.

 “It is unclear how such documents would be relevant to the stated purpose of the committee’s review, which according to your letter is to examine Lt. Gen. Flynn’s disclosure of payments related to activities that occurred in 2015 and 2016, prior to his service in the White House,” Short wrote in a letter dated April 19 that was sent to committee leaders. 

The refusal to cooperate has left unanswered questions about the extent to which the White House was aware of Flynn’s activities.

Both Chaffetz and Cummings were careful to say that they don’t think the White House is obstructing their investigation, and press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday attempted to distance the White House from the controversy. 

“That would be a question for [Flynn] and a law enforcement agency. I don’t know what he filled out or what he did and did not do — he filled that form out prior to coming here,” Spicer said when asked whether Flynn broke any laws.

But former ethics officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations criticized the White House’s rationale for denying the committee’s request, characterizing it as flimsy. 

“The question is, who else knew about it? Did anyone in the White House know about those payments? And that’s why the White House needs to turn over those documents right away,” said Richard Painter, chief ethics officer under George W. Bush. 

“How in the world he could have gotten away with doing this and lying about it and no one caught it — or if they did, they covered it up — we need to get to the bottom of how this happened.” 

Chaffetz said Tuesday that Flynn could potentially be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in remittance to the U.S. government. 

But the authority to levy that penalty would rest with the administration — not with the committee. 

It remains unclear what direction the Oversight probe will take. Chaffetz said the  “lead” in any Russia-related investigations is the Intelligence Committee. Oversight, he said, is playing “more of a support role.” 

Although Cummings said that he would like to see Flynn appear before the committee, Chaffetz said it is highly doubtful.

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Michael Flynn's troubles mount – The Hill

Michael Flynn has his back against the wall.

The leaders of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday said the former national security adviser might have broken the law by accepting payments from Russia and Turkey, and later by misleading the government about them.

The White House later in the day sought to distance itself from Flynn, who was forced to resign in February over phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.

Meanwhile, Flynn’s offers to testify before the House and Senate Intelligence committees in exchange for immunity remained unanswered.

ADVERTISEMENT

It all appears ominous for Flynn, who less than a year ago was close to President Trump and leading chants of “lock her up” against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiserMichael Flynn’s troubles mountWriter who pushed ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory says he’ll attend WH briefingMORE during the Republican National Convention. Now, he is the subject of multiple investigations.

Flynn’s troubles deepened Tuesday, when House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzMichael Flynn’s troubles mountOvernight Cybersecurity: DNC hackers also targeted French presidential candidate | Ex-acting AG Yates to testify at Senate Russia hearing Schumer: Flynn news may be ‘tip of the iceberg’MORE (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) gave a damning review of Pentagon documents they viewed that morning. 

“Personally, I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” said Chaffetz, who earlier this month announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his term. 

According to Chaffetz and Cummings, the documents showed that Flynn did not disclose a paid speaking engagement in Russia when he applied to renew his security clearance, nor did he seek permission to accept the funds. 

As a retired military officer, Flynn is prohibited under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from accepting payment from a foreign government without advance permission from both the secretary of State and the secretary of the Army. 

Further, according to Cummings, Flynn applied to renew his security clearance in January 2016 — using a form called an SF-86 — just months after he traveled to Moscow. 

But there is “no evidence in the documents that he reported funds he received for his trip” and “no evidence he sought permission to obtain these funds from a foreign source,” Cummings said Tuesday, noting that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact in an SF-86 is a felony. 

While he was working for the Trump campaign, Flynn’s firm was also paid as a lobbyist for a Turkish consultancy. 

Flynn declined to disclose the payments from Russia in his original financial disclosure forms submitted to the White House in February.

He filed an amended disclosure last month reporting payments for speeches from three Russian-linked companies, including the government-backed network RT, but remains under intense scrutiny amid the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election. 

Congressional investigators had previously exposed that Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at an event hosted by RT, during which he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also received payments for additional speeches to Russian firms Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr. 

In a brief statement Tuesday, Flynn’s lawyer said that the former intelligence official briefed the Defense Department “extensively” before and after the 2015 trip to Russia. 

The Oversight Committee in March requested documents from the Defense Department and several other agencies about the payments to Flynn. 

The panel is also seeking a wide swath of documents from the White House related to what Flynn reported when he was vetted to become national security adviser.

 But the White House is refusing to provide that information, calling the request “extraordinary.” 

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said the committee is requesting documents that are not in the possession of the White House because they involved Flynn’s activity prior to Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Other documents sought by the committee, from after Jan. 20, involve sensitive information, he said.

 “It is unclear how such documents would be relevant to the stated purpose of the committee’s review, which according to your letter is to examine Lt. Gen. Flynn’s disclosure of payments related to activities that occurred in 2015 and 2016, prior to his service in the White House,” Short wrote in a letter dated April 19 that was sent to committee leaders. 

The refusal to cooperate has left unanswered questions about the extent to which the White House was aware of Flynn’s activities.

Both Chaffetz and Cummings were careful to say that they don’t think the White House is obstructing their investigation, and press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday attempted to distance the White House from the controversy. 

“That would be a question for [Flynn] and a law enforcement agency. I don’t know what he filled out or what he did and did not do — he filled that form out prior to coming here,” Spicer said when asked whether Flynn broke any laws.

But former ethics officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations criticized the White House’s rationale for denying the committee’s request, characterizing it as flimsy. 

“The question is, who else knew about it? Did anyone in the White House know about those payments? And that’s why the White House needs to turn over those documents right away,” said Richard Painter, chief ethics officer under George W. Bush. 

“How in the world he could have gotten away with doing this and lying about it and no one caught it — or if they did, they covered it up — we need to get to the bottom of how this happened.” 

Chaffetz said Tuesday that Flynn could potentially be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in remittance to the U.S. government. 

But the authority to levy that penalty would rest with the administration — not with the committee. 

It remains unclear what direction the Oversight probe will take. Chaffetz said the  “lead” in any Russia-related investigations is the Intelligence Committee. Oversight, he said, is playing “more of a support role.” 

Although Cummings said that he would like to see Flynn appear before the committee, Chaffetz said it is highly doubtful.

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Michael Flynn's troubles mount – The Hill

Michael Flynn has his back against the wall.

The leaders of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday said the former national security adviser might have broken the law by accepting payments from Russia and Turkey, and later by misleading the government about them.

The White House later in the day sought to distance itself from Flynn, who was forced to resign in February over phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.

Meanwhile, Flynn’s offers to testify before the House and Senate Intelligence committees in exchange for immunity remained unanswered.

ADVERTISEMENT

It all appears ominous for Flynn, who less than a year ago was close to President Trump and leading chants of “lock her up” against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiserMichael Flynn’s troubles mountWriter who pushed ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory says he’ll attend WH briefingMORE during the Republican National Convention. Now, he is the subject of multiple investigations.

Flynn’s troubles deepened Tuesday, when House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzMichael Flynn’s troubles mountOvernight Cybersecurity: DNC hackers also targeted French presidential candidate | Ex-acting AG Yates to testify at Senate Russia hearing Schumer: Flynn news may be ‘tip of the iceberg’MORE (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) gave a damning review of Pentagon documents they viewed that morning. 

“Personally, I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” said Chaffetz, who earlier this month announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his term. 

According to Chaffetz and Cummings, the documents showed that Flynn did not disclose a paid speaking engagement in Russia when he applied to renew his security clearance, nor did he seek permission to accept the funds. 

As a retired military officer, Flynn is prohibited under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from accepting payment from a foreign government without advance permission from both the secretary of State and the secretary of the Army. 

Further, according to Cummings, Flynn applied to renew his security clearance in January 2016 — using a form called an SF-86 — just months after he traveled to Moscow. 

But there is “no evidence in the documents that he reported funds he received for his trip” and “no evidence he sought permission to obtain these funds from a foreign source,” Cummings said Tuesday, noting that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact in an SF-86 is a felony. 

While he was working for the Trump campaign, Flynn’s firm was also paid as a lobbyist for a Turkish consultancy. 

Flynn declined to disclose the payments from Russia in his original financial disclosure forms submitted to the White House in February.

He filed an amended disclosure last month reporting payments for speeches from three Russian-linked companies, including the government-backed network RT, but remains under intense scrutiny amid the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election. 

Congressional investigators had previously exposed that Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at an event hosted by RT, during which he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also received payments for additional speeches to Russian firms Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr. 

In a brief statement Tuesday, Flynn’s lawyer said that the former intelligence official briefed the Defense Department “extensively” before and after the 2015 trip to Russia. 

The Oversight Committee in March requested documents from the Defense Department and several other agencies about the payments to Flynn. 

The panel is also seeking a wide swath of documents from the White House related to what Flynn reported when he was vetted to become national security adviser.

 But the White House is refusing to provide that information, calling the request “extraordinary.” 

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said the committee is requesting documents that are not in the possession of the White House because they involved Flynn’s activity prior to Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Other documents sought by the committee, from after Jan. 20, involve sensitive information, he said.

 “It is unclear how such documents would be relevant to the stated purpose of the committee’s review, which according to your letter is to examine Lt. Gen. Flynn’s disclosure of payments related to activities that occurred in 2015 and 2016, prior to his service in the White House,” Short wrote in a letter dated April 19 that was sent to committee leaders. 

The refusal to cooperate has left unanswered questions about the extent to which the White House was aware of Flynn’s activities.

Both Chaffetz and Cummings were careful to say that they don’t think the White House is obstructing their investigation, and press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday attempted to distance the White House from the controversy. 

“That would be a question for [Flynn] and a law enforcement agency. I don’t know what he filled out or what he did and did not do — he filled that form out prior to coming here,” Spicer said when asked whether Flynn broke any laws.

But former ethics officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations criticized the White House’s rationale for denying the committee’s request, characterizing it as flimsy. 

“The question is, who else knew about it? Did anyone in the White House know about those payments? And that’s why the White House needs to turn over those documents right away,” said Richard Painter, chief ethics officer under George W. Bush. 

“How in the world he could have gotten away with doing this and lying about it and no one caught it — or if they did, they covered it up — we need to get to the bottom of how this happened.” 

Chaffetz said Tuesday that Flynn could potentially be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in remittance to the U.S. government. 

But the authority to levy that penalty would rest with the administration — not with the committee. 

It remains unclear what direction the Oversight probe will take. Chaffetz said the  “lead” in any Russia-related investigations is the Intelligence Committee. Oversight, he said, is playing “more of a support role.” 

Although Cummings said that he would like to see Flynn appear before the committee, Chaffetz said it is highly doubtful.

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Trump's 'sanctuary city' order blocked by federal judge in San Francisco – Washington Post

By Maria Sacchetti,

A federal judge in San Francisco dealt the Trump administration another legal blow Tuesday, temporarily halting President Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities.

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick imposed a nationwide injunction against a Jan. 25 executive order authorizing the attorney general to withhold federal grant money from what are called sanctuary jurisdictions that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.

Orrick called the order “broad” and “vague” and said the plaintiffs, the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, were likely to succeed on the merits of their lawsuits challenging it.

In the 49-page ruling, Orrick pointed to discrepancies in the Trump administration’s interpretation of the executive order. In court, the government’s lawyers suggested that cities and towns were overreacting to the order because federal officials have not yet defined sanctuary cities or moved to withhold funding from them.

But on television and in news conferences, the judge pointed out, the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to sanction cities and towns that do not cooperate with immigration officials, leaving local officials nationwide fearful that they will lose funding for vital services.

“The result of this schizophrenic approach to the Order is that the Counties’ worst fears are not allayed and the Counties reasonably fear enforcement under the Order,” the judge wrote.

“The threat of the Order and the uncertainty it is causing impermissibly interferes with the Counties’ ability to operate, to provide key services, to plan for the future, and to budget.”

Trump says that sanctuary cities put Americans at risk by refusing to hold immigrants who have been arrested or convicted of serious crimes so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can take them into custody and deport them.

Sanctuary cities’ officials counter that they do not have the legal authority to hold a person after a judge in a criminal case has ordered that person released.

Holding people on immigration offenses is generally a civil process, rather than a criminal one.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups said the judge’s ruling offered a clear warning that Trump’s order — the third to be blocked, at least partially, in federal court — is illegal.

“Once again, the courts have spoken to defend tolerance, diversity and inclusion from the illegal threats of the Trump administration,” said ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir in a statement. “Once again, Trump has overreached and lost.”

Orrick signaled that the government would be within its rights to pull back federal grant money that came with immigration-related strings attached. His ruling largely blocked the administration from doing things its lawyers had said in court it would not do, such as strip health-care funding from cities and towns.

The Justice Department said in a statement that it would essentially continue business as usual, as the court had blessed its ability to withhold grant money that came with immigration-related conditions.

“The Department of Justice previously stated to the Court, and reiterates now, that it will follow the law with respect to regulation of sanctuary jurisdictions,” the department said. “Accordingly, the Department will continue to enforce existing grant conditions . . . Further, the order does not purport to enjoin the Department’s independent legal authority to enforce the requirements of federal law applicable to communities that violate federal immigration law or federal grant conditions.”

In court, the Justice Department had essentially argued that Trump’s order was a restating of existing law.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee (D) applauded Orrick’s ruling, saying his jurisdiction “is and will remain a Sanctuary City. We know that Sanctuary Cities are safer, healthier, more productive places to live.”

“If the federal government believes there is a need to detain a serious criminal, they can obtain a criminal warrant, which we will honor, as we always have,” Lee said in a statement.

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

Read more:

California just won its first major battle in its war with the Trump administration

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Trump's 'sanctuary-city' order blocked by federal judge in San Francisco – Washington Post

By Maria Sacchetti,

A federal judge in San Francisco dealt the Trump administration another legal blow Tuesday, temporarily halting President Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities.

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick imposed a nationwide injunction against a Jan. 25 executive order authorizing the Attorney General to withhold federal grant money from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.

Orrick called the order “broad” and “vague” and said the plaintiffs, the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, were likely to succeed on the merits of their lawsuits challenging it.

In the 49-page ruling, Orrick pointed to discrepancies in the Trump administration’s own interpretation of the executive order. In court, the government’s lawyers suggested cities and towns were overreacting to the order because federal officials have not yet defined sanctuary cities or moved to withhold any funding from them.

But on television and in news conferences, the judge pointed out, the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to sanction cities and towns that do not cooperate with immigration officials, leaving local officials nationwide fearful that they will lose funding for vital services.

“The result of this schizophrenic approach to the Order is that the Counties’ worst fears are not allayed and the Counties reasonably fear enforcement under the Order,” the judge wrote.

“The threat of the Order and the uncertainty it is causing impermissibly interferes with the Counties’ ability to operate, to provide key services, to plan for the future, and to budget.”

Trump argues that sanctuary cities put Americans at risk by refusing to hold immigrants who have been arrested or convicted of serious crimes so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can take them into custody and deport them.

Sanctuary cities counter that they do not have the legal authority to hold any individual after a judge in a criminal case has ordered that person released.

Holding people on immigration offenses is generally a civil process, rather than a criminal one.

The ACLU and other advocacy groups said the judge’s ruling offered a clear warning that Trump’s order — the third to be blocked, at least partially, in federal court — is illegal.

“Once again, the courts have spoken to defend tolerance, diversity and inclusion from the illegal threats of the Trump administration,” said American Civil Liberties Union National Political Director Faiz Shakir in a statement. “Once again, Trump has overreached and lost.”

Orrick signaled that the government would be within its rights to pull back federal grant money that came with immigration-related strings attached. His ruling largely blocked the administration from doing things its lawyers had said in court it would not do, such as strip health-care funding from cities and towns.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment on the injunction. In court, the Justice Department had essentially argued that Trump’s order was a restating of existing law.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee (D) applauded Orrick’s ruling, saying his jurisdiction “is and will remain a Sanctuary City. We know that Sanctuary Cities are safer, healthier, more productive places to live.”

“If the federal government believes there is a need to detain a serious criminal, they can obtain a criminal warrant, which we will honor, as we always have,” Lee said in a statement.

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

Read more:

California just won its first major battle in its war with the Trump administration

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Judge blocks part of Trump's sanctuary cities executive order – CNN

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German crowd boos Ivanka Trump for calling her father a 'champion' for families – Washington Post

The crowd at a women’s summit in Berlin booed President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, when she claimed her father was “a tremendous champion of supporting families,” on April 25. (Reuters)

A German crowd booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday after she called her father a “a tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Trump was taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role as assistant to the president, vowing at an economic conference in Berlin to create “positive change” for women in the United States.

“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” she said on a panel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”

Miriam Meckel, editor of the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, noted the audience’s response of groaning and hissing and asked Ivanka Trump whether her father is actually an “empowerer” of women.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media and that’s been perpetuated,” Ivanka Trump said on the panel, “but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.”

President Trump was caught on tape in 2005 talking about grabbing women’s genitals without their permission and, in a 2004 interview, called pregnancy an “inconvenience” to employers.

Ivanka Trump, who moved into her own West Wing office last month, advocated for gender equality during the campaign and is now working to reform the nation’s child-care system. Her Germany appearance comes a week before the release of her advice book, “Women Who Work.” 

Her father has called her the mastermind behind his paid maternity leave proposal, unveiled last September, but the White House has made no moves on the family leave front since Trump took office.

The U.S. position on paid maternity leave stands in sharp contrast with Germany, where mothers are entitled to take six weeks of paid time-off before the birth of a child and eight weeks after an infant arrives. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer any paid leave to new parents.

Ivanka Trump had hoped to use her appearance in Berlin to talk about boosting women entrepreneurs. But some female entrepreneurs in the United States, however, say the White House is making their jobs even harder.


BERLIN, GERMANY – APRIL 25: Ivanka Trump sits on a panel with Angela Merkel.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Businesses owned by women tend to face a disadvantage when it comes to expanding into foreign markets — and experts say Trump’s talk on trade and immigration has made it harder for them to pursue international opportunities.

The president has threatened, for example, to slap steep tariffs on goods from China and Mexico. He has asked for a review of the high-skilled worker visa, which tech companies rely on for talent. His travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations risked straining relations with Middle Eastern countries and America’s democratic allies.

All of this can impede an entrepreneur’s step into internationalization, or the act of growing beyond the American border, said Nathalie Molina Niño, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Brava, a holding company that bankrolls start-ups that benefit women.

“Women are at a particular disadvantage,” Molina Niño said, “because unlike large, well-funded companies, women-owned businesses are less equipped to throw money at issues like this.”

Advancing into foreign markets is expensive, she said. Entrepreneurs need cash for shipping, research, travel and hiring more employees. Consulting experts to keep up with today’s unpredictable business climate adds to the cost. And female entrepreneurs, Molina Niño noted, generally have less spending power.

Venture capitalists poured $58.2 billion into companies with male founders last year, while women received a comparatively measly $1.46 billion, according to data from the venture capital database PitchBook. (Less than 10 percent of VC-funded start-ups are run by women, according to the Harvard Business Review, and firms owned by women make up 38 percent of the business population.)

Still, female entrepreneurs in the United States are better off than those in most other countries, studies find.

This year, Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs put the United States in third place for female entrepreneurs, behind New Zealand and Canada.

The authors, however, highlighted a persistent challenge: “In the United States where the underlying entrepreneurial conditions and women’s advancement outcomes are among the best in the world,” they wrote, “women’s entrepreneurial advancement is held back by the lack of internationalization opportunities.”

Fiona Murray, the associate dean of innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said the uncertainty clouding international relations, driven by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, could exacerbate the problem. She pointed to Trump’s executive order last week calling for a review of the H1-B visas for highly skilled workers.

“That makes it difficult for any entrepreneur to think about an appropriate internationalization strategy,” Murray said. “Can you hire the people you need to hire? They need highly specialized talent, and that talent comes from all over the world.”

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White House 'confident' of averting shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall – Washington Post

By , and ,

The White House sought Monday to calm a jittery Washington ahead of a showdown with Congress over spending, and President Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall.

Despite one-party control at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the brinkmanship that came to define spending battles in the Obama years has tumbled into the Trump era, as have the factional divisions over strategy and priorities that have gripped the GOP for a decade.

But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.

Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed.

“The president is working hard to keep the government open,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Monday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he was “very confident” that an agreement would be reached by Friday, but he pointedly said he could not “guarantee” that a government closure would be averted.

At issue is whether the spending measure will explicitly allocate funds toward building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a campaign promise that was a rallying cry for Trump’s base and one on which he is eager to demonstrate progress by Saturday, his 100th day in office.

Democrats, meanwhile, gave the White House an opening, saying they would agree to some new money for border security — so long as it did not go toward the creation of a wall, something House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called “immoral.”

In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the idea of a wall while suggesting that a combination of smart technology and law enforcement, including the use of drones, would be “a much more effective way to secure the border” without hitting an impasse in Congress.

Republicans were working to define Trump’s campaign promise down, arguing that any form of border security would fulfill it.

“There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of immigration reform who challenged Trump in the 2016 primaries. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key appropriator and member of Senate leadership, said that “there could be a wall in some places and technology in other places,” implying that there would not be funding for the wall sketched out in campaign rhetoric. “I think you’re going to get a down payment on border security generally,” he said.

Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion in new money to start construction on the wall, and he wants an additional $2.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. The wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 3½ years to construct.

At the White House, Spicer portrayed Trump’s position not as a demand but rather as one of two priorities — the other being additional military funding — in evolving negotiations with Congress. He left open the possibility that the president could agree to funding for border activities generally, such as additional fencing or drones.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the negotiations that are ongoing,” Spicer said.

Should lawmakers fail to find consensus by Friday, there are plans ready to quickly pass through the House and Senate what is referred to as a “short-term C.R.,” a continuing resolution to keep the government open until discussions are finalized.

The Senate returned Monday night and the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess, leaving only three days this week when both chambers will be in session.

The more conciliatory language emanating from the White House did not stop Trump from continuing to hammer away on Twitter at what he claims is an urgent need for the wall. In a pair of posts, Trump sought to build public pressure on lawmakers to pass funding for wall construction.

“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” he wrote in a morning post.

In another message several hours later, Trump wrote that if “the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall.”

Still, Trump has left himself wiggle room to agree to sign a government funding bill that does not include money for the wall.

“My base understands the wall is going to get built, whether I have it funded here or if I get it funded shortly thereafter,” Trump said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “That wall’s getting built, okay? One hundred percent.”

Asked if he would sign a bill without wall funding, Trump told the news service, “I just don’t know yet.”

The debate over wall funding is just one of several moving pieces congressional leaders are trying to address this week to avoid a partial government shutdown. In 2015, President Barack Obama made a deal with congressional lawmakers to fund government operations through April 28, 2017. If a new agreement isn’t reached by then, many federal employees will stop being paid, national parks will close, and a number of other changes will kick in — as in 2013, the last time the government shut down.

Since new rules about spending bills went into place after Jimmy Carter’s administration, a government shutdown has never occurred when a single political party has controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Paramount for many Republican lawmakers is funding the government, as opposed to the wall specifically. If the government shuts down, they fear, voters could blame the GOP for failing to govern, and the party could suffer the consequences in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I’d like to make it as clean as we can and fund the government,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). “I wouldn’t mind funding the wall, but it’s a question of what we can do. The question is, what’s doable and will we make the deadline?”

Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) said that an effective “wall” along the border had been “authorized years and years and years ago,” in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

“It’s been partially built and partially funded. He wants to fund the rest of it and build it — perfectly legitimate debate that should take place on that,” Risch said.

Asked if that debate could happen in three days, Risch chuckled. “Things get done quickly around here when they want it to get done,” he said.

Even when Republicans controlled the House during the Obama administration, they could rarely pass spending bills without Democratic support. That is because a number of the House’s most conservative members often refused to support such bills, making a bipartisan majority coalition a necessity. In addition, 60 votes are needed to pass a requisite procedural vote in the Senate. With just 52 seats, Senate Republicans will need bipartisan support in that chamber as well.

Among other guarantees, Democrats want assurances that insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act will continue to be funded. There have been discussions among Republicans that Democrats could agree to provide money for the construction of the wall in exchange for those health funds, but Democrats have refused.

Sunday morning, congressional Democrats submitted to Republicans a compromise spending plan, which included some new money for border security but only if it did not go toward a wall. Democrats also asked for assurances that the health insurance subsidies would continue to be funded, language that would shore up benefits for coal miners and a change that would expand Medicaid benefits to people in Puerto Rico, according to a senior Democratic congressional aide.

Pelosi told reporters on a conference call Monday that Congress was “on the path to get it done until [Trump] did intervene” and that the administration’s actions so far belied his campaign promise to “make Mexico pay” for the border wall.

James Norton, a former deputy assistant undersecretary for homeland security under President George W. Bush, said funding for technologies, such as cameras and radars, on the border has dropped off since the early 2000s. He said to get money for the wall or other border security measures, the administration will have to “sell specifics” to lawmakers.

“Each part is going to need to be sold in a specific way to Congress, and they’re going to have to hit the Hill hard,” Norton said. “It won’t be easy.”

Damian Paletta and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Read more at PowerPost

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Public pans Republicans' latest approach to replacing Affordable Care Act – Washington Post

By and ,

In strategy and substance, the American public disagrees with the course that President Trump and congressional Republicans are pursuing to replace the Affordable Care Act with conservative policies, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Large majorities oppose the ideas at the heart of the most recent GOP negotiations to forge a plan that could pass in the House. These would allow states to choose whether to keep the ACA’s insurance protection for people with preexisting medical problems and its guarantee of specific health benefits.

Public sentiment is particularly lopsided in favor of an aspect of the current health-care law that blocks insurers from charging more or denying coverage to customers with medical conditions. Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats, 7 in 10 independents and even a slight majority of Republicans say that should continue to be a national mandate, rather than an option for states to retain or drop.

[Read: Full Post-ABC poll results]

“All states should be required to do the same thing,” said Bayonni Handy-Baker of Killeen, Texas, who supports nationwide requirements on both preexisting conditions and minimum benefits for insurance plans. As the 25 year-old Army veteran and political independent reasoned, “when you have people picking and choosing what to cover, you have this system of holes and disruption and disorder.”

Beyond their criticism of GOP proposals for devolving health policy to the states, many Americans appear leery in general about a major overhaul to the health-care law often called Obamacare, with 61 percent preferring to “keep and try to improve” it, compared with 37 percent who say they want to “repeal and replace” it. Roughly three-quarters of Republicans prefer repealing and replacing the ACA, but more than 6 in 10 independents and nearly 9 in 10 Democrats favor working within its framework.

Those views heighten the challenge for Trump and congressional Republicans as the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess after a remarkable failure last month in attempting to pass a health-care bill. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has championed the ACA’s repeal for years, canceled a vote on the American Health Care Act shortly before the roll call was to begin because the chamber’s Republican majority was so splintered.

Since then, the White House has been prodding GOP lawmakers to regroup, unite and vote quickly on a new version of the legislation, and members of the House’s most conservative faction and a more moderate group have been working toward that goal. House Republican leaders, however, have made clear they do not believe a plan is ready to be voted on and instead have focused on budget and tax issues.

[Affordable Care Act remains ‘law of the land,’ but Trump vows to explode it]

The Post-ABC poll shows that the president’s strategy of trying to develop a plan with conservative Republicans contrasts with the public’s desire for a bipartisan approach. A 43 percent plurality of Americans say he should work with Democrats to change the law, while 26 percent would rather Trump work with the conservative Republicans. Another 24 percent volunteer that he should work with both groups.

Both sentiments echo criticisms of the ACA’s 2010 passage on a party-line vote. A Washington Post poll the month the law was enacted found 47 percent of Americans saying that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats did not make a good-faith effort to cooperate with Republicans. In his first months in office, Trump has said he was open to a bipartisan approach but has put the onus on Democrats to offer concessions and predicted that Democrats would have to come to him “after Obamacare explodes.”

On Sunday, the president returned to that theme with a new tweet: “ObamaCare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going — otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought.”

The new survey suggests significant political risk to Trump in trying to undermine the law, with a mere 13 percent saying he should try to make it fail as soon as possible. By contrast, nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) say he should try to make the ACA work as well as possible, including roughly 6 in 10 Republicans and 8 in 10 independents.

Views of the law have been sharply divided along partisan lines since its passage. For several years, polls showed more opposition than support, but the law’s popularity rose sharply after Trump’s election. Polls this winter found widespread opposition to the GOP alternative.

The Post-ABC poll is the first that has measured public attitudes toward the possibility of giving states control over insurance rules covering preexisting medical conditions and the benefits that many health plans must offer.

The strongly conservative Freedom Caucus has worked to undo an ACA requirement that all health plans sold to individuals and small businesses include a set of “essential benefits.” Reasoning that insurance premiums could be lower if people could buy less comprehensive plans, the caucus favors letting each state decide what benefits, if any, must be covered.

Some people agree. A 51-year-old Republican businessman in Connecticut, who recently sold a group of restaurants, said that his dishwashers and servers were able to buy relatively skimpy, inexpensive “catastrophic” health plans before the ACA. But once the law required more comprehensive coverage, “what happened was, nobody took it,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his former employees’ privacy. Still, the businessman said the federal government should set nationwide requirements to avoid chaos with different insurance rules for companies that operate in more than one state.

[White House turns up heat on Congress to revise the Affordable Care Act]

The survey finds 62 percent of Americans also support keeping federal requirements that many plans cover preventive services, maternity and pediatric care, hospitalization and prescription drugs, while 33 percent say states should decide what, if any, minimum coverage should be provided. Just under half of Republicans (46 percent) favor federal requirements, with support at 67 percent among independents and 80 percent among Democrats.

Two groups of House Republicans have proposed removing the federal stricture that state insurers charge the same amount to customers even if they have preexisting health conditions, known as the “community rating.” The plan would grant states an exemption if they offer high-risk pools selling insurance to these people, which supporters contend would reduce premiums for most consumers by directing the sickest patients out of traditional insurance plans. However, a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that high-risk pools have proven costly for states and individuals and left many people with preexisting conditions uncovered.

Sandra Gibbins, a former insurance company manager from Clarksburg, W.Va., who is now on Medicare, is generally upbeat about the president’s efforts to revise the health-care law. But as a two-time cancer survivor, the independent worries what coverage would be available for people like her. If she weren’t on Medicare, she wonders, “where would I go for insurance?”

During the past seven years, states have diverged in their approach to a central aspect of the ACA, with most Democratic-led states accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid and most Republican-led states resisting.

Despite that sharp difference, majorities in both groups of states want to preserve two core ACA insurance rules, the poll shows. In states that did not expand Medicaid, 65 percent support continuing to forbid insurers from charging more or refusing to cover people with preexisting medical conditions — compared with 73 percent in Medicaid-expansion states. Similarly, on the question of whether to retain the ACA’s “essential benefits,” 56 percent of people in non-expansion states support the idea, compared with 67 percent in states that expanded Medicaid.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted April 17-20 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults interviewed on cellular and landline phones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Questions about national or state control of health rules were asked of a random half-sample of respondents and have an error margin of 5 percentage points.

Emily Guskin contributed to this report.

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White House 'confident' of averting shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall – Washington Post

By , and ,

The White House sought Monday to calm a jittery Washington ahead of a showdown with Congress over spending, and President Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall.

Despite one-party control at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the brinkmanship that came to define spending battles in the Obama years has tumbled into the Trump era, as have the factional divisions over strategy and priorities that have gripped the GOP for a decade.

But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.

Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed.

“The president is working hard to keep the government open,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Monday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he was “very confident” that an agreement would be reached by Friday, but he pointedly said he could not “guarantee” that a government closure would be averted.

At issue is whether the spending measure will explicitly allocate funds toward building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a campaign promise that was a rallying cry for Trump’s base and one on which he is eager to demonstrate progress by Saturday, his 100th day in office.

Democrats, meanwhile, gave the White House an opening, saying they would agree to some new money for border security — so long as it did not go toward the creation of a wall, something House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called “immoral.”

In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the idea of a wall while suggesting that a combination of smart technology and law enforcement, including the use of drones, would be “a much more effective way to secure the border” without hitting an impasse in Congress.

Republicans were working to define Trump’s campaign promise down, arguing that any form of border security would fulfill it.

“There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of immigration reform who challenged Trump in the 2016 primaries. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key appropriator and member of Senate leadership, said that “there could be a wall in some places and technology in other places,” implying that there would not be funding for the wall sketched out in campaign rhetoric. “I think you’re going to get a down payment on border security generally,” he said.

Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion in new money to start construction on the wall, and he wants an additional $2.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. The wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 3½ years to construct.

At the White House, Spicer portrayed Trump’s position not as a demand but rather as one of two priorities — the other being additional military funding — in evolving negotiations with Congress. He left open the possibility that the president could agree to funding for border activities generally, such as additional fencing or drones.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the negotiations that are ongoing,” Spicer said.

Should lawmakers fail to find consensus by Friday, there are plans ready to quickly pass through the House and Senate what is referred to as a “short-term C.R.,” a continuing resolution to keep the government open until discussions are finalized.

The Senate returned Monday night and the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess, leaving only three days this week when both chambers will be in session.

The more conciliatory language emanating from the White House did not stop Trump from continuing to hammer away on Twitter at what he claims is an urgent need for the wall. In a pair of posts, Trump sought to build public pressure on lawmakers to pass funding for wall construction.

“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” he wrote in a morning post.

In another message several hours later, Trump wrote that if “the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall.”

Still, Trump has left himself wiggle room to agree to sign a government funding bill that does not include money for the wall.

“My base understands the wall is going to get built, whether I have it funded here or if I get it funded shortly thereafter,” Trump said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “That wall’s getting built, okay? One hundred percent.”

Asked if he would sign a bill without wall funding, Trump told the news service, “I just don’t know yet.”

The debate over wall funding is just one of several moving pieces congressional leaders are trying to address this week to avoid a partial government shutdown. In 2015, President Barack Obama made a deal with congressional lawmakers to fund government operations through April 28, 2017. If a new agreement isn’t reached by then, many federal employees will stop being paid, national parks will close, and a number of other changes will kick in — as in 2013, the last time the government shut down.

Since new rules about spending bills went into place after Jimmy Carter’s administration, a government shutdown has never occurred when a single political party has controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Paramount for many Republican lawmakers is funding the government, as opposed to the wall specifically. If the government shuts down, they fear, voters could blame the GOP for failing to govern, and the party could suffer the consequences in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I’d like to make it as clean as we can and fund the government,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). “I wouldn’t mind funding the wall, but it’s a question of what we can do. The question is, what’s doable and will we make the deadline?”

Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) said that an effective “wall” along the border had been “authorized years and years and years ago,” in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

“It’s been partially built and partially funded. He wants to fund the rest of it and build it — perfectly legitimate debate that should take place on that,” Risch said.

Asked if that debate could happen in three days, Risch chuckled. “Things get done quickly around here when they want it to get done,” he said.

Even when Republicans controlled the House during the Obama administration, they could rarely pass spending bills without Democratic support. That is because a number of the House’s most conservative members often refused to support such bills, making a bipartisan majority coalition a necessity. In addition, 60 votes are needed to pass a requisite procedural vote in the Senate. With just 52 seats, Senate Republicans will need bipartisan support in that chamber as well.

Among other guarantees, Democrats want assurances that insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act will continue to be funded. There have been discussions among Republicans that Democrats could agree to provide money for the construction of the wall in exchange for those health funds, but Democrats have refused.

Sunday morning, congressional Democrats submitted to Republicans a compromise spending plan, which included some new money for border security but only if it did not go toward a wall. Democrats also asked for assurances that the health insurance subsidies would continue to be funded, language that would shore up benefits for coal miners and a change that would expand Medicaid benefits to people in Puerto Rico, according to a senior Democratic congressional aide.

Pelosi told reporters on a conference call Monday that Congress was “on the path to get it done until [Trump] did intervene” and that the administration’s actions so far belied his campaign promise to “make Mexico pay” for the border wall.

James Norton, a former deputy assistant undersecretary for homeland security under President George W. Bush, said funding for technologies, such as cameras and radars, on the border has dropped off since the early 2000s. He said to get money for the wall or other border security measures, the administration will have to “sell specifics” to lawmakers.

“Each part is going to need to be sold in a specific way to Congress, and they’re going to have to hit the Hill hard,” Norton said. “It won’t be easy.”

Damian Paletta and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Read more at PowerPost

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