News Trump: ‘Time will tell’ what happens to Sessions Olivier Knox Chief Washington Correspondent •Trump says ‘time will tell’ with Sessions WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday sharply criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions but refused to say whether he would fire him or wanted him to resign, saying “time will tell” what fate awaits the former senator.“I’m very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell,” Trump said during a joint Rose Garden press conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.The president has recently unloaded on Sessions — who was the first sitting senator to endorse the brash real estate developer in the 2016 race — on Twitter and in a pair of newspaper interviews. Trump has repeatedly complained about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself in March from all campaign-related investigations, including the question of whether Trump aides colluded with Russia’s interference in the election. The Associated Press and Washington Post have reported that Trump is weighing whether to fire Sessions.President Trump and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (not pictured) attend a joint press conference in the Rose Garden. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)Asked why he was letting his loyal adviser twist in the wind rather than firing him, Trump replied: “I don’t think I am doing that — but I am disappointed in the attorney general.“He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have quite simply picked somebody else,” Trump said. “I think that’s a bad thing, not for the president but for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency and that’s the way I feel.”Trump said Sessions should be “much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level.” He did not specify which unauthorized disclosures he meant.The president’s odd public campaign against his own attorney general has included repeated calls on Twitter for Sessions to investigate Trump’s defeated 2016 rival for the White House, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Trump’s reluctance to say whether he may fire Sessions or wants him to resign may reflect a basic political reality: The former Alabama senator is well liked among Trump’s base, especially for his hard line on immigration. It’s also unclear how Trump would replace Sessions: Any nomination would run into a difficult confirmation process, with senators virtually certain to insist that the president’s pick would maintain his independence in the face of West Wing pressure. A number of Republican senators have already jumped to defend their former colleague. And Democrats reportedly plan to take the necessary parliamentary steps to prevent Trump from attempting a recess appointment.
House Passes New Russia Sanctions That Would Curb Trump’s Power Anna Edgerton Trump likely to give in to political pressure to sign Russian sanctions? Trump likely to give in to political pressure to sign Russian sanctions? Fox Business VideosScroll back up to restore default view.The U.S. House voted to strengthen sanctions against Russia and rebuked President Donald Trump, whose campaign is being investigated for possible ties to Moscow, by preventing him from unilaterally lifting penalties.The measure, which also would impose new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, passed the House Tuesday on a vote of 419-3. The bill now goes to the Senate, where members of both parties have spoken in favor of revisions made to a version of the legislation they passed last month.More from Bloomberg.com: Republican Senators Rally Around Sessions in Rebuke to TrumpThe White House has sent mixed messages about whether Trump would sign the measure, expressing concern over limiting the president’s power to ease sanctions on his own. Trump supports sanctions against the three countries but wants to make sure the U.S. gets “good deals,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday.The Russia sanctions measure, H.R. 3364, is a rare signal of disapproval of Trump from congressional Republicans. They say they want to prevent the president from acting on his own to lift penalties imposed by the previous administration for meddling in last year’s U.S. election and for aggression in Ukraine. House and Senate committees and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are examining possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.More from Bloomberg.com: Trump Launches Into Political Tirade at Boy Scouts Jamboree“This bill represents a very broad, bipartisan House-Senate agreement that the United States must enforce tougher sanctions,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, said on the House floor. He said it “targets the things that matter” Russian President Vladimir Putin.Eliot Engel of New York, the committee’s top Democrat, said, “This administration has shown over and over that they are willing to cozy up to Putin. But here’s the truth: Putin is not our ally.”Health Fight–As a bitter fight over health care consumes much of Washington, the sanctions bill is one of the few major legislative efforts uniting members of the fractured Republican Party, along with their Democratic colleagues.More from Bloomberg.com: China and India Locked in ‘Eyeball-to-Eyeball’ Border StandoffEd Royce of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters in Washington Tuesday that Russia, Iran and North Korea “pose serious threats to our national security.”“It’s well past time to respond with meaningful action,” he said.The original bill from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee included sanctions only on Iran, modeled on previous executive orders, designed to punish entities that support terrorism, sell weapons to Iran, or help that country’s ballistic missile program. The bill also authorizes, but doesn’t require, sanctions on human-rights abusers.The Russia sanctions were added in an amendment on the Senate floor. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, also introduced a provision to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO agreement, which requires members to defend other nations in the alliance.Read More: A Detailed Look at Provisions of the Sanctions MeasureHouse leaders flagged procedural concerns with the Senate-passed bill, saying the Constitution requires legislation raising revenue to originate in the lower chamber. In resolving that issue, Republicans also limited the minority party’s power to introduce and fast-track a resolution to question an effort by Trump to ease Russia sanctions.Under the House-passed version, Congress could prevent the president from completing the proposed action through a joint resolution disapproving it. In the House, the resolution would have to be introduced by the majority or minority leader; in the Senate, those leaders or a designee could introduce the measure.Meanwhile, energy companies stepped up their lobbying in opposition to a prohibition against working on international projects with even a small Russian stake. That rule was changed to apply only to ventures in which sanctioned Russian entities have at least a 33 percent interest, which prevents Russian firms from buying into a fraction of a project to keep American competition away.This new threshold allows ventures such as the Shah Deniz project in Azerbaijan, where BP Plc is the main operator and Russia’s Lukoil PJSC has a 10 percent stake in an ongoing expansion. The change also appears to give a green light to the Sakhalin 1 oil fields in Russia’s far east, where Exxon Neftegas Limited, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp., has a partnership with two Russian companies that have a combined interest of 20 percent.North Korea–House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California also pushed for the inclusion of North Korea sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs. The House has passed such sanctions 419 to 1 in May.Timing of a new Senate vote is uncertain. The chamber is mired in debate over repealing and replacing Obamacare and plans to stay in Washington for the first two weeks of August. The House is set to begin its five-week recess at the end of this week.In addition, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, suggested some concerns have to be resolved before the measure is sent to the president.”We’ll figure out how we’re going to do it,” Corker, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters Tuesday in Washington. „We worked through all the language on Russia. There was no concern on Iran. Adding the North Korea piece, we’ve got to figure out how we want to deal with that.”Following through on the promise to be tough on Russia is one of the few accomplishments House members will have to show constituents during the summer break. Their health-care plan remains deeply unpopular, and GOP leaders are working through the main elements of their tax plan, including how to pay for it.Trump continues to push back against the investigation of possible collusion between his campaign and Moscow, which he has called a “witch hunt.” His son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was interviewed in private by the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday and appeared Tuesday before a House panel.
Republicans move to repeal financial rule opposed by banks Kevin Freking, Associated Press 2 hours 57 minutes ago WASHINGTON (AP) — Targeting government regulations, the Republican-led House on Tuesday voted to nullify a rule that would let consumers join together to sue their banks or credit card companies rather than use an arbitrator to resolve a dispute.The repeal resolution passed by a vote of 231-190, almost entirely along party lines.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized the rule just two weeks ago. It bans most type of mandatory arbitration clauses, which are often found in the fine print of contracts governing the terms of millions of credit card and checking accounts.Republican lawmakers, cheered on by the banking sector and other leading business groups, wasted no time seeking to undo the rule before it goes into effect next year. They’ll succeed if they can get a simple majority of both chambers of Congress to approve the legislation and President Donald Trump to sign it.The numbers are likely on their side, just as they were earlier this year when Republicans led efforts to upend 14 Obama-era rules.GOP lawmakers described the rule as a bad deal for consumers but a big win for trial lawyers. They said the average payout for participants in a class-action lawsuit was just $32 in the financial disputes the consumer bureau studied.”How is that pro-consumer?” asked Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., the resolution’s sponsor.Meanwhile, Rothfus said the average payout for the attorneys in the class-action cases amounted to nearly $1 million.Democratic lawmakers fought to keep the rule. They said they’re not opposed to arbitration. It just shouldn’t be the only option consumers have. They said the point of participating in a class-action lawsuit is generally to pursue relief from small financial injuries — the kind that would not be worth the time and expense for someone to take to an arbitrator. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said that when a whole lot of people get hurt in the same way, they should have a chance to join together to seek redress.”If you’re going to cheat people, there’s going to be some accountability,” Warren said during a news conference with Democratic leaders in the House. „That’s what this provision is all about.”Democratic lawmakers framed the debate as Republicans sticking up for powerful financial companies at the expense of consumers who often are outgunned and outmanned in their disputes with banks and other creditors. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said during the debate that across the Capitol, Republican lawmakers were voting to begin debate on health care legislation that she said would shatter the health care of millions of Americans without regard for the consequences.”Every chance they get, they stack the deck against America’s working families,” Pelosi said of the Republican lawmakers.Republicans described arbitration as a superior option for consumers and said that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s action could force banks to hold greater reserves to prepare for future litigation. That money would be better spent being loaned to small businesses and families, they said.To show that arbitration works, they highlighted how the average payout in the arbitration cases the bureau studied was more than $5,300.The consumer protection bureau found that consumers tended to seek relief through arbitration when they believed they were out thousands of dollars. The agency found only a couple dozen cases a year when consumers filed arbitration claims against financial services companies to pursue an amount of $1,000 or less.The consumer protection agency also estimated that the cost of complying with the new rule would be less than $500 million annually for banks. Meanwhile, the agency also said that banks generated more than $171 billion in profits in 2016.Every Democratic lawmaker voted no, while every Republican, except Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, voted yes.The American Bankers Association urged the Senate to go along with the House.”In class-action lawsuits, the spoils go overwhelmingly – and sometimes exclusively – to a small group of highly motivated trial lawyers who specialize in filing a large volume of often frivolous litigation,” said Rob Nichols, the trade group’s president and chief executive officer.The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen criticized the repeal vote.”Unfair clauses hidden in the fine print of consumer contracts may be the single most pernicious tactic that the financial industry uses to escape accountability for cheating, conning, fleecing, defrauding and plundering consumers,” said Lisa Gilbert, a vice president at Public Citizen._On Twitter, reach Kevin Freking at https://twitter.com/APkfreking
US Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian vessel AFP 11 hours ago Washington (AFP) – A US Navy patrol ship fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel in the Persian Gulf Tuesday after it approached within 150 yards (137 meters), a US defense official said.”The IRGCN boat was coming in at a high rate of speed. It did not respond to any signals, they did not respond to any bridge-to-bridge calls, they felt there was no choice except to fire the warning shots,” the defense official told AFP on condition of anonymity.The incident occurred at about 3:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT) in the northern Persian Gulf, when the Iranian vessel began to approach the USS Thunderbolt.After the US ship fired the warning shots, the Iranian vessel stopped, the official said, at which point the Thunderbolt continued on her way.The episode marks the latest in a series of close encounters between US ships and Iranian naval vessels.In January, the USS Mahan destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels that approached at high speed in the Strait of Hormuz.The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a paramilitary force that answers directly to the Islamic republic’s supreme leader.US Navy Capt: Iranian-US Sea Interactions Uptick The captain of an American destroyer that recently fired warning shots at Iranian vessels says the number of unsafe maritime interactions between the US and Iran has continued to increase over the past years. (Feb. 2)
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