The Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling that would have required President Trump’s accounting firm to release his financial records to the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The Supreme Court will now decide whether it will hear the case — which could set a major precedent about the balance of power between Congress and the executive branch.
Senator Susan Collins, who voted in Favor of Trumps emergency declaration.
Rape apologist and Maine Senator Susan Collins
AUGUSTA, Maine — President Donald Trump’s administration passed a policy Friday that would prevent taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions. It would also prohibit these clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers.
Abortion advocates, who have expressed opposition to the policy, say it targets Title X, a family planning program passed by President Richard Nixon in 1970.
Title X serves about 4 million women a year through independent clinics. Many of these clinics are run by Planned Parenthood affiliates, which serve about 1.6 million women. The grant program costs taxpayers around $260 million a year.
Those opposed to abortion – in large part, religious conservatives, who make up a notable portion of Trump’s policy base – have expressed support for the policy, since they say it will help redirect some taxpayer dollars away from funds for abortions.
Maine legislators sent out statements in response to the policy Friday.
“Every woman should be able to access reproductive health care when and where she needs it,” said Gov. Janet Mills, quoted in a statement release. “The Trump Administration’s gag rule is backward policy that will silence health care providers, withhold vital medical information from patients, and prevent women from getting the basic health care they need.”
Gov. Mills joined states across the country last year in a lawsuit attempting to stop the Trump administration from making these changes to Title X.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins also expressed opposition to the new regulation. Maine’s senior senator has been a long-time proponent for funding of the Title X Family Planning Program.
“I oppose this misguided rule change that could significantly diminish access for women to crucial contraceptive services, which have been critical in reducing the number of abortions in our country over the past three decades,” Sen. Collins said in an emailed statement. “In fact, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and I wrote to the Trump Administration last summer to express our opposition to this proposal.”
Her spokeswoman, Annie Clark, noted that Collins and Murkowski wrote this letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to express concern and ask the Trump administration to reconsider. In the letter, the two women said that the proposed rule may undermine success the country has seen in reducing the abortion numbers by providing timely and convenient access to contraception services.
Clark said Collins will be evaluating potential legislative remedies in the coming weeks.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.
Collins backs resolution disapproving emergency declaration to build wall
Collins said the president should go through normal appropriations channels if he thinks he needs more money for border security.
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Senator Susan Collins says she is prepared to vote for a Congressional resolution expressing disapproval of President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to get more money for a border wall.
She is the first Republican senator to make that commitment.
Collins said the president should go through normal appropriations channels if he thinks he needs more money for border security.
Collins said Wednesday morning that a Resolution of Disapproval is expected to pass in the House and then move to the Senate.
And I don’t know what the vote situation will be in the Senate, nor do I know exactly what that resolution will say but it is a privileged matter, which means that it will come before the Senate for a vote. And if it’s a clean disapproval resolution, I will support it.
Collins says it’s not yet clear whether money earmarked for improving the drydock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard would– in her words– be “robbed” in order to meet President Trump’s priorities.
Collins spoke Wednesday at a Coast Guard ceremony in South Portland.
But she voted IN FAVOR of the emergency declaration in the Senate!!!
As the legislative session ramps up, some surprising proposals bubble up. But should they all be taken seriously? And Sen. Susan Collins’ fundraising shows the campaign season never ends.
Phil Harriman and John Richardson are skeptical about a bill proposed last week that would force a consumer takeover of Central Maine Power and Emera Maine, two companies with a combined worth estimated at $4 billion.
Former Speaker of the House John Richardson acknowledges that “CMP has some serious customer relations problems, and that in my opinion is what’s driving this bill. Does this bill have a reasonable chance of getting through? Of course not.”
Phil Harriman, a former state senator, feels “This is not this is not the direction the Maine Legislature should be going, which says to private business, ‘we don’t like the way you’re doing business, so we are going to take over your business.’ I don’t think that’s going to work.”
They also discuss a proposal that was floated and quickly withdrawn that would have required Mainers to buy snow tires for their vehicles. Our analysts believe this sort of bill points out a chronic problem for the Maine Legislature. A couple of thousand bills are introduced at the start of each session.
Says Harriman, “Every legislator has the right during ‘open season’ to put in any bill of any type that they want. And this is why you see bills like this being introduced. They’re not going anywhere, and it makes fodder for those who want to criticize the way government operates.”
And Richardson says “When these kinds of bills come forward it makes a mockery of the legislature. What happens unfortunately, is that everybody is tainted with ‘what are you trying to do? Force us to buy snow tires?'”
Campaign finance reports this past week revealed that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) brought in $1.8 million in the last quarter of 2018, following her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
John Richardson says that controversial vote was good politics for Collins, at least outside of Maine. “I think that’s where she’s gaining and will gain most of the money she raises for the next election. She could raise more than $10 million for the 2020 race.”
Harriman says this is a sign that “This is what politics has become today. Campaigns never end. We don’t put our party affiliation aside and operate as Americans or Mainers anymore, it’s all about the election.”
Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins said there was ‘absolutely no excuse’ for the government shutdown, but she’ll say anything.
“There is absolutely no excuse for this partial government shutdown. Even this partial shutdown represents the ultimate failure to govern— and it’s why I have always opposed shutdowns, regardless of which party controls Congress or the White House,” Senator Collins wrote.
“While Congress has fully funded the majority of the government, including the Department of Defense and the VA, I’m very concerned about the remaining 25 percent of the government that is now shutdown.”
“Negotiations between congressional leaders from both parties and the White House are ongoing. I remain in close touch with my colleagues, exploring ways to end this impasse. I hope that all sides will come together to reach a compromise as quickly as possible.”
Senator Angus King also opposed the shutdown, releasing a statement on Friday night.
“We shouldn’t be in this situation. For months, Congress has worked on a bipartisan basis to craft spendingbills that would attract support from both parties – including substantial funds for border security. Instead, the President has forced a partial government shutdown unless his demands for a wall on the southern border are met,” King wrote, in part.
“Everyone in the Congress is in favor of enhanced border security; the issue is whether a wall is the best and most cost-effective method of achieving this.”
President Donald Trump has defended his new acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, as opponents call for his recusal from the Russia investigation.
Mr Whitaker was named to replace former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who was fired by Mr Trump on Wednesday.
Controversy arose over Mr Whitaker’s previous comments about ending the probe into alleged Russian meddling in favour of Mr Trump’s election in 2016.
As the top law enforcement official, Mr Whitaker could take over the inquiry.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia on behalf of the Department of Justice.
Currently, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is overseeing Mr Mueller’s investigation – a role he took on when Mr Sessions recused himself.
Critics have pointed to some of Mr Whitaker’s remarks on CNN last year on curtailing Mr Mueller’s investigation as reason to remove him from any oversight role.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mr Trump called Mr Whitaker a “very well respected man” whose selection “was greeted with raves”, though he made sure to distance himself from his new appointee.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Mr Trump said while fielding questions of how he might influence the Russia investigation.
But the president has probably interacted with Mr Whitaker numerous times, US media pointed out, as he was Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff.
“Making comments on shows doesn’t mean you’re unqualified,” Mr Trump added. “You didn’t have any problems with him when he worked for Sessions.”
Earlier this week, before the dust had even begun to settle on the results of the November mid-term elections, long-embattled Mr Sessions released a letter confirming he was out of a job.
“At your request,” Mr Sessions wrote to President Trump, “I am submitting my resignation.”
Minutes later, the president announced his replacement via Twitter: “We are pleased to announce that Matthew G Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well….”
Mr Whitaker is originally from Ankeny, a suburb of Des Moines in central Iowa, the son of an elementary school teacher and a scoreboard salesman.
He became a football star in high school and was eventually inducted into the Iowa High School Football Hall of Fame. He went on to play tight end in the Holiday Bowl and the Rose Bowl for the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 1990s.
Whitaker graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law, and then went into practice as a lawyer, for a time as corporate counsel for a chain of grocery stores.
President George W Bush appointed him US Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, where he prosecuted white collar and drug trafficking crimes. He held that office from 2004 until 2009.
His wife Marci is a civil engineer, and the couple has three children.
Mr Whitaker first took a shot at public office in 2002 when he ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer of Iowa as a Republican. He ran for United States Senate in 2014, losing the party’s nomination to Republican Senator Joni Ernst.
In his campaigns, Mr Whitaker positioned himself as a fiscally conservative opponent of the Affordable Care Act, and said his political role models were Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. He courted the anti-abortion, evangelical Christian vote, saying at one candidate’s forum that he would scrutinise nominees for federal judge to ensure they had a “biblical view of justice”.
He further built up his conservative credentials when he served as campaign co-chair for Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2012 and became the executive director of the conservative watchdog group, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust in Washington DC.
He was hired as Sessions chief of staff in October 2017.
From commentator to acting attorney general
Prior to joining Mr Sessions’ staff, Mr Whitaker was a conservative legal commentator for CNN, and penned several opinion pieces that may shed light on how he might approach his new role in the Justice Department, in particular when it comes to his possible oversight of the Russian election-meddling investigation lead by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In July 2017, Mr Whitaker appeared on CNN and mused on possible ways that President Trump could crush the probe, which included the departure of Mr Sessions.
“I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt,” Mr Whitaker said.
In August 2017, Mr Whitaker wrote a piece called “Mueller’s investigation of Trump is going too far”. In it, Mr Whitaker argued that Mr Mueller had overstepped the boundaries of his inquiry when he began looking into the Trump family’s finances. He called this a “red line” that Mr Mueller should not cross, warning that it would render the investigation a “witch hunt” – a term that the president himself has become quite fond of.
“The Trump Organization’s business dealings are plainly not within the scope of the investigation, nor should they be,” Mr Whitaker wrote.
Speculation that Mr Whitaker would one day take a more central role at the Justice Department has been bubbling for months. A report in the Washington Post said that he spoke directly to Donald Trump as early as October about replacing his own boss, as the president continued to publicly grouse about Jeff Sessions’ handling of the Russia probe.
After a New York Times article reported that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein had considered wearing a wire to monitor Trump in the early days of his presidency, Mr Whitaker was discussed as Mr Rosenstein’s possible replacement. Mr Rosenstein offered to resign but ultimately kept his job.
According to the Times, Mr Whitaker has used what could have been a tricky assignment as a bridge between his boss, the embattled Attorney General Sessions, and a hostile White House to ingratiate himself with the president.