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Tuesday, Apr 23rd

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Appeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers

House Reverend Patrick ConroyA  federal appeals court handed a legal victory to House Rev. Patrick J. Conroy on Good Friday when it ruled he cannot be forced to let an atheist offer a secular prayer on the chamber floor.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a claim brought by Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a former minister, that his rights were violated when Conroy said he could not serve as a guest chaplain.

Judge David S. Tatel, writing on behalf of the three-judge panel, focused the court’s ruling not on Barker’s atheism but rather on the content of the prayer.

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Nadler subpoenas DOJ for full version of the Mueller report

Nadler subpoenas full Mueller reportHouse Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Friday issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to the underlying grand jury evidence and testimony.

The subpoena, which demands the material by May 1, escalates the House’s confrontation with Attorney General William Barr, whom Democrats have accused of whitewashing Mueller’s findings and misleading the public about the nature of the special counsel's conclusions in order to protect President Donald Trump.

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Trump’s Yemen veto won’t stop Congress from trying to punish Saudi Arabia

Yemen war participation vetoedPresident Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution to cut off U.S. military aid to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s civil war, which has killed an estimated 85,000 children due to famine, so lawmakers are exploring other means, including cutting off some arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

This was the first time lawmakers on Capitol Hill have sent a president legislation under the War Powers Act to end U.S. involvement in a conflict abroad, and it marks only the second veto of Trump’s presidency. While he argued he doesn’t want U.S. forces involved in the conflict indefinitely, Trump told lawmakers the resolution would have set a bad precedent.

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Interior’s watchdog opens investigations into new Interior Secretary Bernhardt

Interior Secretary Bernhardt probed by Ethics group

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog said on Monday it had launched an investigation into several allegations of ethics violations by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, less than a week after the Senate confirmed him to the position.

Bernhardt had been serving as acting secretary since early January, when then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke departed amid his own swirl of ethics scandals. Senate Democrats have complained that Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for fossil fuel and agriculture businesses, was not fit to head the agency because of what they deemed as too many conflicts of interest, which they said should require him to recuse himself from much of the agency's work.

Congressional Democrats have also accused him of being opaque about whether he has met with former clients while in office.

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House Dems subpoena Deutsche Bank, other lenders for info on Trump

Deutsche bankHouse Democrats on Monday reportedly subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and several other banks, asking for information about President Trump's finances, as well as the dealings between the banks and Russia.

The New York Times, citing several people with knowledge of the investigation, reported that the subpoenas were issued by House’s Intelligence and Financial Services committees.

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Neal gives IRS commissioner new deadline for handing over Trump's tax returns

Richard Neal gives IRS Commissioner new deadline

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal re-upped his demand for President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Saturday, telling IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig he has until April 23 to turn over the documents.

“Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request,” Neal (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to Rettig three days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration would miss Neal’s original April 10 deadline as Treasury consults the Justice Department on the matter.

A subpoena likely would come next from Neal, who told Rettig the IRS has "an unambiguous legal obligation" to turn over the six years of Trump's personal tax returns and some business returns that Neal has asked for.

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Cummings moves to subpoena Trump financial records

Elijah Cummings to subpoena Trump financial records

House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is moving to issue a subpoena to obtain 10 years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA, the chairman told members of the panel in a memo on Friday.

Cummings plans to issue the subpoena on Monday after Mazars asked for a so-called “friendly” subpoena, so that it could comply with the committee’s document demands.

In his memo, Cummings explained that the committee asked for the records as part of its efforts to corroborate allegations made by Trump’s former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen, who told lawmakers in February that Trump artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets to his personal benefit.

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