Skip to content

By: Door County Pulse

Ice Age Trail Could Get Elevated Status

A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would elevate the status of the Ice Age Trail, which includes 22 miles running through southern Door County.

It would also elevate the status of the North Country National Scenic Trail, possibly bringing in more funding to maintain and expand them. The legislation seeks to designate the Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails as units of the National Park Service, as well as the New England National Scenic Trail.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner are sponsoring the legislation. The two introduced the bill last session, but it never made it to the floor for a vote.

The two trails are administered by the National Park Service in cooperation with other local, state and federal partners. However, Baldwin told Wisconsin Public Radio they don’t have full trail status. She said the bill would put the Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails on a level playing field with others in the National Park Service that receive funding.

Kevin Thusius, director of land conservation with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, said the bill would allow them to access funding that’s available only to trails designated as a unit of the National Park Service.

There are 670 miles of Ice Age Trail open for use. Once complete, the trail is expected to stretch more than 1,200 miles.

Baldwin: Flood-Prone Communities Need More Help

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other programs need to invest more in helping Wisconsin communities endure repeated flooding.

During a visit to La Crosse on April 5, Baldwin met with regional mayors, emergency responders and weather researchers to talk about repeated flooding in western Wisconsin. Flash floods continue to hit the same communities as the region sees more frequent severe storms.

Baldwin said federal recovery programs have to stop limiting people to rebuilding the same buildings or infrastructure that was lost.

“We’re averaging about five inches more per year of rainfall,” said Dan Baumgardt, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service in La Crosse. “The disturbing thing is since about 2015, we’re on even a higher trend of extreme events: ’15, ’16, ’17 and ’18 are some of the wettest years on record.”

Wisconsin Fully Removed from ACA Lawsuit

A federal appeals court has granted Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul’s request to leave a multi-state lawsuit that seeks to overturn the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The move means Wisconsin is now out of the case at every level, fulfilling a promise Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers made repeatedly during their 2018 campaigns. A federal district court granted a similar request last week.

Evers and Kaul were initially blocked from leaving the case by a law Republicans passed during December’s lame-duck session of the state Legislature.

That law required Wisconsin governors and attorneys general to get the permission of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee before leaving federal litigation. Republicans who run that committee have shown no willingness to take that step, saying they support the ACA lawsuit.

“If the challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is successful, people with a pre-existing condition will lose critical protections,” Kaul said. “The state of Wisconsin will no longer be using tax dollars to support this lawsuit, which is contrary to interests of Wisconsinites.”

Eight Wisconsin Nursing Homes in Receivership

Dycora Transitional Health and Living Center, which operates eight skilled nursing facilities – or nursing homes – in Wisconsin is under new management as it goes through receivership.

Nursing-home operators are struggling with Wisconsin’s current Medicaid reimbursement system. Menominee River, an affiliate of nursing-home operator Golden Living, will operate the facilities during the transition.

Washington, D.C.—This week, the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) released its 2018 Congressional Ratings, naming Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) a recipient of the “Award for Conservative Excellence.” Congressman Sensenbrenner received a 96% score in 2018—the highest among the Wisconsin Delegation.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “My constituents sent me to Washington to cut red tape, defend individual liberty, and support our national security, and my voting record has reflected these principles throughout my career in public service. I am proud to be one of the most consistently conservative voices for Wisconsin and honored to be presented this award.”

Since 1971, the ACUF has tracked votes on key legislation and provided an annual report to inform the public of how well each lawmaker has upheld conservative principles. You can view these reports here. Congressman Sensenbrenner has 90.05% lifetime rating from the ACUF. 

By: the Waukesha Freeman

SUSSEX — Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, RMenomonee Falls, is hosting a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Sussex Civic Center, N64-W23760 Main St.

Throughout his career, Sensenbrenner has held more town hall meetings than any other member of Congress and has conducted more than 650 in-person meetings since 2011, according to a press release. Sensenbrenner said now that he’s recovering from a recent hip replacement surgery, he’s ready to resume his practice of open town hall meetings.

“These events are an important way for me to

engage with constituents and get direct feedback that informs my decision-making in Congress,” Sensenbrenner said. “Open and honest dialogue between elected officials and their constituents is crucial for a representative government, and I look forward to these upcoming meetings.”

Sensenbrenner will hold more meetings across Waukesha County, including at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, New Berlin City Hall, 3805 S. Casper Drive; 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, Elm Grove Village Hall, 13600 Juneau Blvd.; 9 a.m. Monday, May 6, Nashotah Village Hall, N44- W32950 Watertown Plank Road; 9:45 a.m. Monday, May 6, Merton Village Hall, N67 W28343 Sussex Road;

10:30 a.m. Monday, May 6, Lannon Village Hall, 20399 W. Main St.; 11:30 a.m. Monday, May 6, Butler Village Hall, 12621 W. Hampton Ave.; 7 p.m. Sunday, June 2, Brookfield Town Hall, 645 N. Janacek Road; 7 p.m. Sunday, June 30, Delafield Town Hall, W302N1254 Maple Ave.; and 7 p.m. Sunday, July 14, Menomonee Falls Village Hall, W156- N8480 Pilgrim Road.

By: Australian AP

A trip to Ireland by a high-powered US congressional delegation, led by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, could be the death knell for Australia's monopoly on a highly-attractive US work visa.

Ireland has aggressively lobbied US President Donald Trump and senior members of US Congress to break Australia's stranglehold on the E3 visa and allow Irish citizens to apply for it.

The E3 was high on the agenda last month when Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar visited Mr Trump at the White House and congressional leaders on Capitol Hill for St Patrick's Day celebrations.

The E3 is a coveted two-year visa allowing Australian professionals and their spouses to work in the US with no limit on the number of additional two-year extensions.

"The congressional delegation visiting Ireland is an important step in continuing that process," Ireland's envoy to congress John Deasy told the Irish Times.

Ms Pelosi, Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and other members of the US delegation will land in Ireland on April 15 for meetings with Mr Varadkar.

The Australian government, led by Ambassador to the US Joe Hockey, successfully staged its own lobbying effort late last year to thwart Ireland's previous bid.

Each year 10,500 E3 visas are made available to Australians but only about half are snapped up.

Ireland has pushed for access to the visas Australians do not take up.

"It was clear from our meetings around St Patrick's Day that both the Republican and Democratic leadership offices want to continue to pursue the E3 Bill," Mr Deasy said.

"Both speaker Pelosi and president Trump told us they are behind efforts to get this finished and congressman Neal is one of its driving forces in the House."

Mr Neal, a Democrat, and Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, are expected to reintroduce the bill into the House in coming weeks.

Australia was first rewarded with the E3 in 2005 following its support for the US during the Iraq War and the signing of the US-Australia free trade agreement.

Brookfield, WICongressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) today announced the first round of his town hall meeting schedule, beginning Thursday, April 11 in Sussex, WI.

In the 115th Congress, Congressman Sensenbrenner held more town hall meetings than any other member of Congress, and has conducted more than 650 in-person meetings since 2011.

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Throughout my career, I have consistently held town hall meetings that are open to the public, and I’m pleased to resume this practice now after recovering from a recent hip replacement surgery. These events are an important way for me to engage with constituents and get direct feedback that informs my decision-making in Congress. Open and honest dialogue between elected officials and their constituents is crucial for a representative government, and I look forward to these upcoming meetings.” 

Opening Event Details:

Thursday, April 11 
Sussex Civic Center
N64W23760 Main Street
Sussex, WI 53089

This event is free and open to all constituents of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District as well as members of the press.

Constituents who are unable to attend are encouraged to share their feedback HERE.

NOTE: All interview requests must be made to Congressman Sensenbrenner’s press office prior to the start of a meeting.  Additionally, if you plan to cover any of these events, please contact our office as soon as possible so we are able to accommodate your spacing needs. All television cameras must be on site 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the meeting or will not be guaranteed entry.

Full Schedule: 
Thursday, April 11th 
Sussex Civic Center
N64W23760 Main Street
Sussex, WI 53089

Friday, April 12th 
Lowell Village Hall
105 N. River Street
Lowell, WI 53557

Reeseville Village Hall
206 S. Main Street
Reeseville, WI 53579

Hustisford Village Hall
201 S. Lake Street
Hustisford, WI 53034

Iron Ridge Community Center
205 Park Street
Iron Ridge, WI 53035

Saturday, April 13th 
Fort Atkinson Public Library
Dwight Foster Public Library
209 Merchants Ave.
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538

Sunday, April 14th 
Greenfield Public Library
5310 W. Layton Avenue
Greenfield, WI 53220

Monday, April 15th 
Johnson Creek Village Hall
125 Depot Street
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Helenville Fire Hall
N4737 N. Helenville Road
Helenville, WI 53137

Sullivan Village Hall
500 Madison Avenue
Sullivan, WI 53178

Palmyra Village Hall
100 W. Taft Street
Palmyra, WI 53156

Tuesday, April 16th 
New Berlin City Hall
3805 S. Casper Drive
New Berlin, WI 53151

Wednesday, April 17th 
Elm Grove Village Hall
13600 Juneau Blvd.
Elm Grove, WI 53122

Thursday, April 18th 
Newburg Village Hall
620 W. Main Street
Newburg, WI 53090

Kewaskum Village Hall
204 First Street
Kewaskum, WI 53040

Addison Town Hall
127 First Street
Allenton, WI 53002

Jackson Village Hall
N168W20733 Main Street
Jackson, WI 53037

Friday, May 3rd 
Waterloo Municipal Building
136 N. Monroe Street
Waterloo, WI 53594

Lake Mills City Hall
200 Water Street
Lake Mills, WI 53551

Ixonia Town Hall
W1195 Marietta Avenue
Ixonia, WI 53036

Sunday, May 5th 
West Bend City Hall
1115 S. Main Street
West Bend, WI 53095

Monday, May 6th 
Nashotah Village Hall
N44W32950 Watertown Plank Rd.
Nashotah, WI 53058

Merton Village Hall
N67W28343 Sussex Road
Merton, WI 53056

Lannon Village Hall
20399 W. Main Street
Lannon, WI 53046

Butler Village Hall
12621 W. Hampton Avenue
Butler, WI 53007

Thursday, May 30th 
Whitewater City Hall
312 W. Whitewater Street
Whitewater, WI 53190

Friday, May 31st 
Rubicon Town Hall
N3864 County Road P
Rubicon, WI 53078

Neosho Village Hall
210 S. Schuyler Street
Neosho, WI 53059

Lebanon Town Hall
N1738 County Road R
Lebanon, WI 53047

Sunday, June 2nd 
Brookfield Town Hall
645 N. Janacek Road
Brookfield, WI 53045

Sunday, June 23rd 
Richfield Village Hall
4128 Hubertus Road
Hubertus, WI 53033

Sunday, June 30th 
Delafield Town Hall
W302N1254 Maple Ave.
Delafield, WI 53018

Monday, July 1st 
Wauwatosa Public Library
7635 W. North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Monday, July 8th 
Watertown Municipal Building
106 Jones Street
Watertown, WI 53094

Sunday, July 14th 
Menomonee Falls Village Hall
W156N8480 Pilgrim Road
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Sunday, July 21st 
Slinger Village Hall
300 Slinger Road
Slinger, WI 53086

By: Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times

One House committee chairman officially fired off a request Wednesday for six years of President Trump’s tax returns, as another won the authority to issue subpoenas to demand special counsel Robert Mueller’s full investigative file of Mr. Trump.

The twin moves marked escalations in Democrats’ scrutiny of the president, and both threatened to spark legal battles.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, sent his demand to the IRSfor the president’s tax returns from 2013 through 2018. He also asked for returns from eight Trumpentities, including his revocable trust and his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Mr. Neal said his committee is thinking about passing legislation on government audits of presidents and therefore has the right under its oversight powers to demand to see the information.

He set an April 10 deadline for the IRS to comply.

Mr. Trump, saying he is under audit, has repeatedly rebuffed calls to make his tax returns public. He signaled Wednesday that he is likely to battle Mr. Neal’s demand.

“Until such time as I’m not under audit, I would not be inclined to do it,” he told reporters at the White House.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to give Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, the power to issue a subpoena to demand that the Justice Department turn over the special counsel’s report into Mr. Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as all investigative files that Mr. Mueller developed.

That expansive subpoena was joined by other subpoenas for five former Trump White House officials, including onetime chief of staff Reince Priebus, former top attorney Donald McGahn and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The 24-17 committee vote did not issue the subpoenas, but it gave permission to send them at any time to Mr. Nadler, who would oversee any impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump.

The subpoena would demand access to classified documents and to information that stemmed from the grand jury that Mr. Mueller relied upon during his investigation.

Under the law, grand jury proceedings are supposed to be sealed, though a court can unseal them.

“We need these materials to fulfill our constitutional obligation,” said Mr. Nadler, adding that Congress received classified data and grand jury information during impeachment-style investigations into President Nixon in the 1970s and President Clinton in the 1990s.

Republicans said the demand was premature.

Attorney General William P. Barr said he is planning to release as much of Mr. Mueller’s final report as possible this month.

The materials he isn’t releasing are supposed to be kept secret under the law, they said, and if Mr. Nadler wants to see those, he will have to go through a long legal battle in the courts asking them to unseal grand jury information.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, one of the Republican impeachment managers against Mr. Clinton in the 1990s, said he would join Mr. Nadler in making that request to the courts but added that approving the subpoena now would make no sense.

“Go to court and let the judge make the decision,” he said.

Mr. Nadler, though, said he wanted to have the subpoena in hand first and then go to court if necessary.

Mr. Nadler was on the other side of the debate in the 1990s, arguing that the Clinton investigation information should not be provided to Congress. He lost then and now says that precedent holds today for the Mueller investigation into Mr. Trump.

“Our chief constitutional obligation is to hold the president accountable, especially in an instance where the Department of Justice says it cannot hold the president accountable,” he said. “Those judgments must be made by Congress, not by a political appointee, the attorney general.”

If Mr. Nadler’s subpoena powers are challenged in court, then they are likely to be joined by Mr. Neal’s request.

Although Mr. Trump joked about the request for six years of returns — “is that all?” he said to reporters — the power to demand a taxpayer’s information is due to be tested.

The power rests in Section 6103 of the tax code, which orders that tax returns be kept private under federal law but includes a provision giving the heads of the tax-writing House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees the ability to request “any return or return information.”

Although information that can be traced back to an individual is supposed to be viewed only in closed session by the committee, the expectation on Capitol Hill is that the information will quickly find its way into the public sphere, possibly through a vote by the full Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Neal said Mr. Trump’s information is needed to write better laws, but fellow Democrats made clear that they plan to expose the president politically.

“For much of his adult life, Trump has used his power to shield himself from scrutiny or accountability. Subjecting his tax records to sunlight can finally hold him to both,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat.

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on Mr. Neal’s committee, urged the Treasury Department and the IRS to refuse the request.

“This particular request is an abuse of the tax-writing committees’ statutory authority, and violates the intent and safeguards of Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code as Congress intended,” he said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said he doubts Mr. Mnuchin will be able to resist complying with Mr. Neal’s request.

“The law is crystal clear,” he said. “I expect the Treasury Department to comply in a timely manner.”

He said he wants the Republican chairman of the Finance Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to make the same request for the Senate.

Mr. Grassley has criticized requests for Mr. Trump’s tax returns as an effort to “weaponize” the tax law for political purposes. But he also has said that if the House did it, then he would make the same request to prevent any mischief on Democrats’ part.

On Wednesday, a representative for Mr. Grassley said he takes a dim view of Mr. Neal’s move.

“Those seeking an individual’s personal tax returns to exact political damage would be opening the door to future abuses of power and would poison the public trust in the ability of the IRS to keep personal information private. That’s an outcome every taxpayer and their elected representatives should want to avoid.”

By: Leandra Bernstein of NBC 15

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas so members of Congress can read the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

In a party-line vote, the committee gave the chairman the authority to subpoena the Justice Department for the report and all of the underlying evidence gathered during the two-year investigation into the Trump campaign.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. did not pull the trigger, yet. The subpoenas from the House Judiciary will likely come later this month after Attorney General William Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the report.

Barr indicated last week that he will not release the full 400-page report, prompting Democrats to dig in their heels for a lengthy political and legal fight.

In a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Barr said he planned to redact classified information, grand jury materials, information related to ongoing investigations and information that could violate the privacy and reputation of individuals named in the report.

Democrats argued the redactions were unacceptable and unprecedented. "The department is wrong to try to withhold that information from this committee," Nadler stated. "Congress is entitled to all the evidence."

Nadler said he is currently negotiating with Attorney General Barr to produce the documents. If those talks fail, he will bring the issue before a judge in the hopes of compelling the release of the redacted materials.

"We're going to work with the attorney general for a short period of time in the hope that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and the underlying materials. And we'll go to court to get permission to have the [grand jury] material," Nadler told reporters after the vote. "But if that doesn't work out in a very short order, we will issue the subpoenas."

In addition to the Mueller report, the Judiciary Committee is prepared to subpoena five former Trump White House figures, Don McGahn, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and Ann Donaldson.

Submitting a redacted report to Congress would be a departure from previous investigations where lawmakers were given full access to reports, underlying evidence and grand jury materials. In the Ken Starr independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton and Leon Jaworski's special counsel investigation of Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, Congress was provided all of the information.

However, the special counsel law changed after the 1999 Clinton impeachment and Starr report.

Under the revised statute, the special counsel is only required to provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining any decisions to prosecute or decline prosecution. There is no obligation to provide Congress or the public with a full account. In his January confirmation hearing, Barr pledged to make public as much of the Mueller report as he could "consistent with the law."

Doug Collins of Georgia, the Republican ranking member on the Judiciary Committee argued that the Justice Department has the right to withhold its evidence from Congress, unless the chairman was willing to launch an impeachment investigation, as with Clinton or Nixon.

"If the chairman truly wanted to get at this information, then he can go to what I believe many in their heart desire, is open the impeachment inquiry," Collins said.

Leading Democrats have resisted calls for impeachment from their base and some of the party's more left-leaning members.

Chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, told SBG that the Democrats subpoena threat was "political theater."

"This is a 2020 subpoena. It's not a transparency subpoena," he argued. "This is all about politics. It really has nothing to do with getting to the truth."


Congress could receive the redacted Mueller report as soon as next week. But that will be the beginning, not the end of the fight.

On Wednesday, both Republicans and Democrats signaled that they are prepared to take the next step and fight the Justice Department in court.

Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin stated he would be "happy" to be a co-plaintiff in a case demanding the release of grand jury material gathered in the Mueller investigation.

Sensenbrenner, who voted against subpoenaing the Justice Department, argued the resolution was "toothless" and that an attempt to enforce the subpoena would inevitably be tied up in litigation for years.

"The thing to do to put teeth into a subpoena is for Congress and this committee to go to court and ask for an order allowing for the release of the grand jury material," the congressman stated.

Otherwise, the Justice Department will quash the subpoena, Sensenbrenner continued, "and it will be in court for months and maybe years until the Supreme Court decides this issue because it's a dispute between the legislative and executive branches of government."

Democrats on the committee indicated they were open to Sensenbrenner's suggestion but hoped to negotiate with Attorney General Barr outside of court first and then move to issue subpoenas.

"This is the first step of the Judiciary Committee making certain we get the Mueller report and all the supporting documents," Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Both parties in Congress have expressed a strong desire to see the full report on the Trump campaign and alleged Russian collusion.

Last month, the House passed a resolution unanimously, 420 - 0, supporting the public release of the Mueller report. Many in the Senate hoped to pass a similar resolution but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked it from coming to the floor.

Among the general public, recent polls show the overwhelming majority of Americans want to see the full report and a majority (66 percent) want to see Robert Mueller testify before Congress.

President Donald Trump originally supported the full release of the report after Barr issued a 4-page memo essentially clearing the president and the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Russian government. Trump claimed he was "totally exonerated."

This week, Trump appeared to change his tune, tweeting that Democrats' demands for full documentation were an attempt to relitigate the two-year investigation.

Even though the attorney general is not obligated to give lawmakers the underlying documents in the Mueller investigation, Congress does havevirtually unlimited authority to subpoena information from the executive branch.

House Republicans regularly exercised that authority and issued hundreds of subpoenas—with limited success—when they held the majority during the Obama and early Trump administration. In 2017, a handful of Republicans went so far as threatening to hold the deputy attorney general in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents related to Hillary Clinton's email investigation.

By: Bart Jansen of USA Today

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report and the evidence his investigators gathered, setting up what could be a historic legal clash with the Justice Department.

The panel also voted to authorize subpoenas for evidence from some of President Donald Trump’s former top advisers, including strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Hope Hicks, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House counsel Donald McGahn and counsel Ann Donaldson.

The committee did not issue the subpoena immediately. Instead, the vote gave Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the authority to do so in the future, the first step by Congress to force Attorney General William Barr to release Mueller’s entire confidential report about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The committee approved the subpoena by a party-line vote of 24-17. 

Nadler said Mueller's report “probably isn’t the ‘total exoneration’ the president claims it to be,” so Congress must review the whole thing. He said the Justice Department should not seek to withhold parts of it, as Barr has said he plans to do.

“We are dealing now not with the president’s private affairs, but with a sustained attack on the integrity of the republic by the president and his closest advisers,” Nadler said. “This committee requires the full report and the underlying materials because it is our job, not the attorney general’s, to determine whether President Trump has abused his office.”

Mueller completed his investigation and submitted his report to Barr on March 22. Barr said the investigation did not establish that Trump or his campaign had coordinated with efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. Mueller declined to draw a conclusion about whether Trump had obstructed justice during the investigation; instead, Barr said he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, concluded based on the evidence Mueller gathered that the president had not.

Trump, who has endorsed the release of Mueller's report, appeared more cautious in recent days. He told reporters Tuesday that Democrats would never be satisfied by Mueller's conclusion that the investigation did not establish a conspiracy involving his campaign, calling it "politics at a very low level."

“Anything you give them, it will never be enough,” Trump said. “They'll always come back and say it's not enough, it's not enough.”

Barr has told lawmakers that he and other Justice Department officials are examining the nearly 400-page report, plus tables and appendices, to remove grand jury evidence, intelligence material, evidence that could affect other cases and information that could infringe on the privacy of people who weren’t charged. Barr said he expected to give Congress his redacted version of the report by mid-April.

Nadler said he would not issue the subpoenas to Barr immediately but instead "will give him time to change his mind" on releasing grand jury material. He said he expected to subpoena the report "in very short order." 

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, said Democrats set an arbitrary deadline to receive the Mueller report from Barr and then demanded material that the law does not allow to be shared outside the Justice Department.

"In the face of laws and rules he finds inconvenient, the chairman demands our nation’s top law enforcement official break the law instead of supporting him in enforcing it," Collins said. "This is reckless. It’s irresponsible. It’s disingenuous."

The meeting began testily, with Collins forcing Nadler to have his amended resolution read for the committee.

“I really wish we could work on big issues rather than on this circus of undermining the president of the United States,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said he wants to read Mueller's report rather than Barr's redacted version, because he was among the “fire-throwers” who expected explosive results from Mueller’s report.

“I want to find out if I was wrong, and I want the public to see it, too,” Cohen said.

After giving Barr a Tuesday deadline to give Congress Mueller’s full report, Nadler is moving to force Barr’s hand. Nadler cited precedents in investigations involving former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, in which prosecutors turned over grand jury materials. Nadler held up thick volumes of evidence from the Clinton investigation, citing grand jury testimony on page 3,341.

"The same type of evidence has to be produced here," Nadler said.

Nadler also said the Justice Department released 880,000 pages of internal investigative records in July 2018 about the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and thousands of pages dealing with the Russian investigation that Mueller took over. The records included highly sensitive information including applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, classified documents and deliberative material of the FBI and Justice Department, he said.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a former prosecutor, suggested the committee drop its demand for grand jury information, but his proposal failed in a party-line vote. 

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the Justice Department probably would move to block the subpoena, a battle that could take months or years before being resolved at the Supreme Court. Instead, he said Congress should ask a federal court for an order releasing grand jury evidence – an effort he offered to join – as happened in the Nixon and Clinton investigations.

“The chairman and his supporters are putting the cart before the horse,” Sensenbrenner said. “I think we all want to get to the bottom of this.”

The fight over releasing the full Mueller report is already in federal court. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a request Monday to U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to authorize public release of any grand jury material that is “cited, quoted or referenced” in Mueller’s report to Barr.

“The calls for transparency are broad and bipartisan," said Katie Townsend, the committee’s legal director. "The president himself has said the report should be made public. We agree.”

By: Rachael Bade of The Washington Post

A House panel voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s full report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying down a marker in a constitutional power struggle that could end up in the courts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24 to 17 along party lines to authorize its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to subpoena the report and underlying documents of Mueller’s probe from Attorney General William P. Barr.

The panel, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, also voted to subpoena five former White House officials it believes may have received documents relevant to the special counsel’s probe.

“This committee has a job to do,” Nadler said. “The Constitution charges Congress with holding the president accountable for alleged official misconduct. That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves — not the attorney general’s summary, not a substantially redacted synopsis, but the full report and the underlying evidence.”

The much-anticipated move to compel the Justice Department to release the report comes one day after Barr missed a House-imposed deadline to turn over the nearly 400-page document. Barr told lawmakers last week that although he could not meet their Tuesday deadline, he promised to deliver a redacted version of Mueller’s findings by mid-April, if not sooner.

But Democrats, who are leaving for a two-week congressional recess next week, have made clear that redactions are unacceptable and have sought to give Nadler the tools needed to respond at any moment.

Nadler told reporters after Wednesday’s vote that he will hold off on serving Barr with a subpoena, seeking to first negotiate with him for the full range of Mueller’s documents. The Democrat would not specify, however, how long he would wait.

“We’re going to work with the attorney general for a short period of time in a hope that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and will go to court to get permission to get the [grand jury] material,” Nadler said, referring to interviews and documents presented during the proceedings throughout the investigation. “But if that doesn’t work out, in a very short order we will issue subpoenas.”

After reviewing the report, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress on March 24, saying Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Mueller also made no determination about whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice during the inquiry, arguing that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” according to Barr’s summary.

That has not stopped Trump and his GOP allies from claiming it does — even as Democrats counter that Barr, a Trump appointee, is hardly a neutral observer and is protecting the president.

On Monday, Trump asserted on Twitter that “no matter what information is given to the crazed Democrats from the No Collusion Mueller Report, it will never be good enough.” Republicans argued during Wednesday’s hearing that Democrats simply want to embarrass or impeach Trump.

“My friends across the dais are eager for headlines, so they’re issuing subpoenas . . . despite the fact the special counsel spent nearly two years examining exactly what House Democrats are fishing for here,” said Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an outspoken Trump ally, asked: “Why are we here? Seems to me we’re here because the Mueller report isn’t what the Democrats wanted it to be . . . just the opposite.” 

Democrats objected, reminding Jordan that neither they nor the GOP has seen a single page of the Mueller report.

However, House Democrats in recent days have sought to shift the focus away from their investigations of the president, especially talk of impeachment. Some Democrats worry the nationwide focus on their efforts probing Trump is drowning out their legislative message, which they deem vital to maintaining their majority in 2020 and defeating Trump.

Still, party leaders have argued that Barr — who personally determined there was not sufficient evidence to establish obstruction, absent a Mueller recommendation on the matter — could have misrepresented Mueller’s findings and that Democrats need to review the report themselves.

“We do not need your interpretation. Show us the report,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week, calling Barr’s handling of the matter “condescending” and “arrogant.”

Nadler echoed that sentiment Wednesday: “We are not willing to let the attorney general . . . substitute his judgment for ours.”

The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday also approved subpoenas for five former White House aides: former White House counsel Donald McGahn; former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon; former communications director Hope Hicks; former chief of staff Reince Priebus; and Ann Donaldson, McGahn’s former chief of staff.

The five were among 81 individuals and entities Nadler sent document requests to last month as part of his investigation into whether Trump abused power, obstructed justice or engaged in public corruption.

The fight over the Mueller report is expected to land in the courts. Senior Justice Department officials have expressed opposition to releasing information that could damage an individual who is not charged with a crime. But when it comes to the president, Democrats argue, Barr has an obligation to make the report public, and they have said they will sue for the entire document if Barr does not comply.

The House voted 420 to 0 last month to urge Barr to release the report. But since then, House Republicans — particularly on the Judiciary Committee — have deferred to Barr, arguing that he would make the best legal decision about what to make public.

Barr and Justice Department officials are working behind the scenes to redact grand-jury information, classified material, details related to ongoing prosecutions and “information that may unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties,” according to Nadler.

But Democrats have argued that Congress deserves to see all the information, citing as precedent former independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s delivery to Congress of his full, unredacted report on President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. The Starr report in 1998 was complete with grand-jury testimony.

Nadler at one point during the committee session held up two massive books from Starr’s investigation, noting he gave Congress “boxes and boxes” of such information.

“The department is wrong to try to withhold that information from this committee,” Nadler said. “Congress is entitled to all of the evidence.”

Collins challenged Nadler’s logic, mocking his use of props by holding up his own makeshift display — two water bottles, one empty, one full — to argue Nadler is comparing apples and oranges.

Starr, Collins argued, was appointed under a different law and made recommendations on impeachment.

“I’m glad we’re using props today, because the chairman is wanting you to look at one thing when the reality is another thing,” Collins said. “It doesn’t work! They’re not the same!”

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) argued that previous special counsels and prosecutors who handed over grand-jury information to Congress received permission from the courts to release such sensitive material.

Sensenbrenner, who said he would be “happy to be a co-plaintiff” in a court motion to release the full report, encouraged Nadler to hold off on his subpoena and go to a judge. “We ought to do what we need to do first,” he said, “. . . and that’s go to court.”

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) countered that in those circumstances, the special counsel or special prosecutor went to the courts “on their own” without Congress to get permission. 

Barr “has attempted to keep the information,” Cicilline said, “so for us to wait and pray and hope that Mr. Barr will find his way to the courthouse is foolish.”

Since Barr’s four-page summary of the findings were released, support for House Democratic investigations of the president has hardened along party lines, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll. The division offers a stark contrast to the start of the year, when an overall majority backed the lower chamber’s effort to probe whether the president or his allies conspired with Russia.

Still, 83 percent of respondents said the Mueller report should be made public in its entirety, public sentiment Democrats can use to their advantage when pressing for its release.


Quotes of the week

Congress and the American people deserve to read Mueller’s full report, and we must demand complete transparency. It’s the only way forward from here. 
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, in a tweet joining fellow Dems in calling on the attorney general to give Congress and members of the public access to the special counsel’s full report from his investigation of President Trump. AG William Barr released a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation over the weekend.

Unfortunately, the investigation took almost two years and was a huge distraction from the significant problems facing our nation. Hopefully, the attorney general can quickly conclude his final report and allow us to turn our full attention to those other challenging issues.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a tweet applauding the report’s findings that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russian actors in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

What is it that we have a problem with, with children who are in special education?
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, as quoted in an NBC News report questioning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing this week. The federal Education Department has proposed $7 billion in cuts overall, including nixing $18 million in federal funding supporting Special Olympics. DeVos called the Special Olympics as “an awesome organization” and said the agency “had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.”

Small business owners, in particular, have shared fears that they will be unable to bear the new compliance burdens and may have to shutter their businesses. 
– U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, touting his federal online sales tax bill. The bill comes after a June U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to collect online sales taxes from retailers without a physical presence in the state. Sensenbrenner’s bill would ensure states can’t retroactively collect the taxes on transactions before Jan. 1, 2019, among other things.

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is pushing a bill he says would prevent Democratic “court packing” efforts.

The effort, a constitutional amendment, would keep the U.S. Supreme Court’s size at nine justices.

The bill comes as Dem presidential candidates have expressed an openness to expanding the size of the high court. That includes U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Booker, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, per national media reports.

Gallagher said in light of those “partisan calls,” the time is now to pursue a constitutional amendment.

“Americans rely on the Supreme Court to faithfully uphold the Constitution, and with Democrats’ partisan calls to increase the Court’s size gaining momentum, it is now more important than ever to preserve the legitimacy of the highest court in the land,” the Green Bay Republican said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The House bill has three GOP cosponsors.

Constitutional amendments must pass both houses of Congress with a two-thirds majority, before being sent to the states where three-fourths have to ratify them in order for the changes to be adopted.


— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is bringing back her bill aiming to curb stock buybacks and give workers a bigger say in company decision-making.

The Madison Dem’s legislation, called the “Reward Work Act,” would bar corporations from being able to re-buy their own shares. It would also let employees directly elect one-third of their company’s board members.

Baldwin called for rewarding hard work in a statement touting her bill, saying stock buybacks are increasing wealth inequality.

“Corporate profits should be shared with the workers who actually create them,” she said. “It’s just wrong for big corporations to pocket massive, permanent tax breaks and reward the wealth of top executives with more stock buybacks, while closing facilities and laying off workers.”


— Baldwin has also been named as one of the members of a new Dem panel aimed at addressing climate change.

The Madison Dem will be one of 10 members on the newly created Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Among its responsibilities will be holding hearings and issuing findings on the consequences of climate change and the opportunities taking action to combat it would bring, according to Baldwin’s statement.

“Taking bold action to confront climate change is not just an environmental goal; it is an urgent economic necessity for us in Wisconsin,” she said.


— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson joined all Republicans this week in shooting down the Dem-backed “Green New Deal” on the Senate floor.

The measure failed on a 57-0 vote, with Dems, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, opting to vote “present” on the effort.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, called it “astonishing” that while many Dems had co-sponsored the initiative, they “unanimously failed to vote for it.”

“If Democrats hypocritically say they support their $93 trillion spending boondoggle but then don’t vote for it, no American should take them or the Green New Deal seriously,” he said in a statement.

Senate Dems, per national media reports, framed the vote as a political sham.

See the roll call vote.


— The majority of Wisconsin House members backed overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration again this week.

But the effort, which got a 248-181 vote, fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Trump’s veto of legislation blocking his declaration to go around Congress to fund a wall along the southern border.

All of Wisconsin’s Dems and two GOP reps backed the effort the second time it came to the chamber’s floor — the same Wisconsin members who voted to back the measure the first time around.

They were: GOP U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Jim Sensenbrenner and Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind.

The Republicans were two of 14 in their party who supported the resolution. Meanwhile, GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, of Wausau, Glenn Grothman, of Glenbeulah, and Bryan Steil, of Janesville, again opted to oppose the bill.  

See the roll call vote.


— Wisconsin House members, led by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, are calling for an extension of Wisconsin’s SeniorCare prescription drug program.

The eight members asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a letter to provide a long-term extension to the program that expires March 31.

“Supporting this drug benefit program is in the best interest of American taxpayers, Wisconsinites, and the thousands of seniors enrolled,” they wrote. “We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request and look forward to working with you to continue to protect our states’ elderly population.”

See the letter.