Latest Headlines: What We’ve Been Watching

October 18, 2022

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In case you missed ’em—here are some of the stories making headlines this week.

January 6 Committee Officially Subpoenas Trump

As promised during their final televised hearing on October 13, the January 6 House Committee investigating the plot to overthrow the 2020 Presidential election on Friday issued a subpoena to former President Trump for testimony under oath and for records relevant to its investigation.

In a letter to Trump, Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) referred to what they called his central role in the deliberate effort to reverse the results of the 2020 election so that he could remain in power. 

The subpoena said that Trump would be deposed November 14 after the midterm elections. 

There was no immediate response from Trump on whether he would comply. 

Former White House aide Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in federal prison along with a $6,500 fine, after being convicted by a jury to two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the January 6 Committee investigating the plot to overthrow the 2020 Presidential election.

District Court Judge Carl Nichols further stayed that sentence while Bannon appeals.

Nichols said that while Bannon poses a “very small risk of recidivism with regard to congressional subpoenas,” there was a need to remind the public to cooperate with Congressional investigations. He further added, “Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes.

Bannon’s defense attorney, David Schoen was defiant during arguments, invoking executive privilege—even though Bannon had long left the Trump White House by the time of the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 insurrection—and added that neither Bannon nor any American “should make an apology for the way Mr. Bannon proceeded in this case.”

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney JP Cooney, argued that Bannon had “no interest” in complying with the subpoena; “he had an interest in making a spectacle.

President Biden announced Wednesday the release of another 15 million barrels of crude from the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR).

“With my announcement today, we’re going to continue to stabilize markets and decrease the prices at a time when the actions of other countries have caused such volatility,” Biden said from the White House. “And I’ve told my team behind me here to be prepared to look for further releases in the months ahead if needed. We’re calling it a ‘ready and release’ plan.”

Gas prices had started ticking up a few weeks ago following a 99-day decline, but have been ticking back down over the past several days.

The President reiterated a statement made Sunday by Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, that the SPR is still “more than half full” with more than 400 million barrels in reserve following Biden’s release of some 180 million barrels back in March, which Bernstein said was “the largest draw that we’ve ever done.”

WAPO: Retired U.S. Military Take Jobs with Repressive Regimes

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an investigative report stating, “More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel—including scores of generals and admirals—have taken lucrative jobs since 2015 working for foreign governments, mostly in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression.”

Almost two-thirds of the jobs have been in the Middle East and North Africa, the Post said, while 25 retirees from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps were granted permission by the government to take jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Further, the Post reports, Americans’ work for the Saudis “expanded” after the 2018 murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which U.S. intel has pinned to the Saudi royal family.

Of the 500 reported cases since 2015, only one involved Russia. This was not retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s work for Russia, which the Post noted he did not report to the U.S. government.

In 1977 Congress authorized the Pentagon and the State Department to approve veterans’ foreign work. Under federal law, those approvals are required before military retirees can accept “any compensation, even travel expenses, from a foreign government or state-owned company,” said the Post. “Retirees may work only as civilians, not as uniformed personnel.”

Blinken: China on “Faster Timeline” to Pressure Taiwan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is warning that Chinese President Xi Jinping is growing impatient and wants to fast-track taking control of China’s sovereign island neighbor, Taiwan.

“And instead of sticking with the status quo that was established in a positive way, [Xi made] a fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline,” Blinken said Tuesday.

Xi, who is set to begin an unprecedented third five-year term as leader of China, said in a speech to the Chinese Communist Party National Congress Sunday that “complete reunification of the motherland must be realized and can certainly be realized.”

Biden Admin Officially Opens Student Debt Forgiveness Applications

President Biden announced Monday that the online application for canceling up to $20,000 in student loan debt is now available.

The form can be found at StudentAid.gov and is available in English and Spanish. The online service will be available through December 31, 2023.

According to the White House, borrowers who would like their balances adjusted before student loan payments restart in January should submit their applications before November 15th.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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