TPM News

The German bank that has lent President Trump hundreds of millions of dollars over the years was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Reuters and Bloomberg reported. Deutsche Bank received a subpoena “several weeks ago” for financial records related to Trump and his family, unnamed sources told the outlets.

“Deutsche Bank always cooperates with investigating authorities in all countries,” the bank told Bloomberg in a statement Tuesday that did not provide any additional information.

The move signifies Mueller’s willingness to cross what Trump and his allies have deemed to be a red line in the investigations into Russian election interference by looking into the President’s finances.

“I think that’s a violation,” Trump told the New York Times in July, though he declined to say whether he would fire Mueller if that line was crossed.

Democrats have sought unsuccessfully to obtain Trump’s Deutsche Bank records as part of their congressional probes. According to Bloomberg, the bank’s management is now more willing to share those records, and Deutsche Bank conducted its own internal analysis that found no evidence that its dealings with Trump were connected to the so-called Russian mirror trades affair, an alleged money laundering scheme to funnel Russian money out of the country.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intel committee, called the reported move a “a very significant development.”

“If Russia laundered money through the Trump Organization, it would be far more compromising than any salacious video and could be used as leverage against Donald Trump and his associates and family,” he said.

Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from House Intel ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking up the highly anticipated case of the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Tuesday’s clash at the high court pits baker Jack Phillips’ First Amendment claims of artistic freedom against the anti-discrimination arguments of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and two men Phillips turned away in 2012.

The commission ruled that Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law when he refused to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

The argument is the first involving gay rights since the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

The Trump administration is supporting Phillips in his argument that he can’t be forced to create a cake that violates his religious beliefs. It appears to be the first time the federal government has asked the justices to carve out an exception from an anti-discrimination law.

Protesters on both sides filled the sidewalk in front of the court, shortly before the start of the argument.

“We got Jack’s back,” Phillips’ supporters said. Backers of Craig and Mullins countered: “Love wins.”

The case’s outcome also could affect photographers and florists who have voiced objections similar to those of Phillips.

“Artists shouldn’t be forced to express what the government dictates. The commission ordered Jack to celebrate what his faith prohibits or to stop doing the work he loves. The Supreme Court has never compelled artistic expression, and doing so here would lead to less civility, diversity, and freedom for everyone, no matter their views on marriage,” Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing Phillips, said in an email.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups that have sided with the gay couple said they fear a ruling for Phillips could allow for discrimination by a range of business owners. They said the court has never recognized what they call a constitutional right to discriminate.

“The question is whether a shop like Masterpiece Cakeshop can put up a sign in its window saying, ‘Wedding cakes for heterosexual couples only,'” ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling said. The ACLU is representing Craig and Mullins.

All eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote often decides cases that otherwise split the court’s liberals and conservatives. The 81-year-old Kennedy is the author of the 2015 gay marriage decision and all the court’s major gay-rights rulings. At the same time, Kennedy has forcefully defended free-speech rights in his nearly 30 years as a justice.

Colorado native Neil Gorsuch also will be taking part in the most important gay rights case since he joined the Supreme Court in April.

Colorado is among only 21 states that have statewide laws barring discrimination against gays and lesbians in public accommodations.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 16-111, will be decided by late June.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump’s rare move to shrink two large national monuments in Utah triggered another round of outrage among Native American leaders who vowed to unite and take the fight to court to preserve protections for lands they consider sacred.

Environmental and conservation groups joined the battle Monday and began filing lawsuits that ensure that Trump’s announcement is far from the final chapter of the yearslong public lands battle. The court cases are likely to drag on for years, maybe even into a new presidency.

Trump decided to reduce Bears Ears — created last December by President Barack Obama — by about 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante — designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton — by nearly half. The moves earned him cheers from Republican leaders in Utah who lobbied him to undo protections they considered overly broad.

Conservation groups called it the largest elimination of protected land in American history.

The move comes a week after tribal leaders decried Trump for using the name of a historical Native American figure as a slur.

On Nov. 27, Trump used a White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat he has derisively nicknamed “Pocahontas” for her claim to have Native American heritage.

“It’s just another slap in the face for a lot of us, a lot of our Native American brothers and sisters,” Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “To see that happen a week ago, with disparaging remarks, and now this.”

Trump also overrode tribal objections to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines.

The Navajo Nation was one of five tribes that formed a coalition that spent years lobbying Obama to declare Bears Ears to preserve lands home to ancient cliff dwellings and an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites. Native Americans visit the area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes, and do healing rituals.

The coalition’s lawsuit to protect Bears Ears is expected to be filed by Tuesday.

Earthjustice filed the first of several expected lawsuits Monday, calling the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante an abuse of the president’s power that jeopardizes a “Dinosaur Shangri-la” full of fossils. Some of the dinosaur fossils sit on a plateau that is home to one of the country’s largest known coal reserves, which could now be open to mining. The organization is representing eight conservation groups.

Trump, in a speech at Utah’s Capitol with the governor and other politicians, said the state’s lands should not be managed by “very distant bureaucrats located in Washington.”

“Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away,” Trump said. “I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens.”

The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections.

Trump’s move followed months of lobbying by Utah’s mostly Republican officials who said the two monuments closed off the area to energy development and other access.

Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre (2,030-square-mile) Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said only Congress, not the president, has the power to reduce a national monument, something that the tribal coalition plans to argue in court.

Additional legal challenges were expected from environmental groups and outdoor clothing company Patagonia.

Outside Trump’s announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the State Capitol. Some held signs that said, “Keep your tiny hands off our public lands,” and they chanted, “Lock him up!” A smaller group gathered in support, including some who said they favor potential drilling or mining there that could create jobs. Bears Ears has no oil or gas, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters, though Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal.

Bears Ears, created nearly a year ago, will be reduced to 201,876 acres (315 square miles).

Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles).

Both were among a group of 27 monuments that Trump ordered Zinke to review this year.

Democrats and environmentalists accuse Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican political campaigns.

Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah’s Republican U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land.

Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, “You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land.” He said the decision would “give back your voice.”

“Public lands will once again be for public use,” Trump said to cheers.

Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when “you talk, this president listens” and that Trump promised to help him with “federal overreach.”

No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review the protections, which Trump is able to upend under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.

Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear. The former Montana congressman’s plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said the outdoor-apparel company will join an expected court fight against the monument reduction, which she described as the “largest elimination of protected land in American history.”

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Rep. John Conyers (R-MI) will not resign over the recent allegations of sexual misconduct, but he will not seek re-election in 2018, according to the grandson of his brother, Michigan State Sen. Ian Conyers.

Ian Conyers first made the comments to the New York Times and later confirmed them to ABC News.

Ian Conyers cited the congressman’s health concerns as the reason for retiring — the congressman was hospitalized last week.

“He is not resigning. He is going to retire,” Ian Conyers told the New York Times. “His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health.”

Ian Conyers told the New York Times that he will run for John Conyers’ seat in 2018.

Rep. Conyers will make an announcement on his political future Tuesday morning, and his lawyer declined to confirm the congressman’s plans ahead of time.

Several former Conyers staffers have come forward recently to accuse the congressman of sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate touching to propositioning female staffers. The congressman has denied the accusations and has so far resisted calls from Democratic leaders for him to resign.

Ian Conyers told the Times that he stands with his great uncle “in terms of his belief of no specific wrongdoing,” but said that the accusers deserve their day in court.

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Calling the allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore incidents that occurred “decades ago,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters Monday that the President had no choice but to endorse Moore.

“I don’t think he had any choice but to do that,” Hatch told reporters who traveled with President Donald Trump to Utah on Monday, according to Bloomberg. “He needs every Republican he can get so he can put his agenda through. So, that’s the only Republican you can possibly get down there.”

Upon initial news that multiple women had come forward alleging that Moore had pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s, Hatch and several Republican leaders in Congress said if the allegations were true, Moore should step aside. Hatch appeared to walk that back on Monday.

“Many of the things he allegedly did are decades ago, so it’s hard to — that’s a decision that has to be made by the people in that state,” he said. “If they make that decision, who are we to question them?”

Hatch’s comments fall in line with the cautious nod his colleagues are giving Moore in the last week before the Dec. 12 election.

While initially adamant that Moore should step aside, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made similar comments over the weekend, saying the people of Alabama should decide Moore’s fate. The White House was also careful to distance itself from Moore at first, but Trump all-out endorsed the embattled candidate Monday in a tweet and phone call.

“Go get ‘em, Roy!” Trump told Moore in the phone call, according to his campaign.

On Monday evening, the Republican National Committee reversed course and backed Moore after initially backing away when the allegations surfaced.

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Back in October 2016, when the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape first surfaced, Mike Pence, then the vice presidential candidate, thought about staging a coup and replacing Donald Trump on the Republican ticket, The Atlantic reported Tuesday morning, citing unnamed Republicans familiar with the situation.

Just hours after the Washington Post published the tape revealing Trump bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Pence told the Republican National Committee that he was ready to take over for Trump, per The Atlantic. An aide to Pence denied to The Atlantic that Pence discussed becoming the nominee with the RNC.

The RNC began looking into replacing Trump, and top Republicans were talking about placing Pence at the top of the ticket with Condoleeza Rice as his running mate, The Atlantic reported. During the meeting in which Trump asked his top advisers how much the tape had damaged his prospects, Priebus told Trump that Pence and Rice were “ready to step in,” a person who was present told The Atlantic.

The plans reportedly discussed by Pence and the RNC never went into place, however. Trump remained on the ticket and won the race weeks later.

Pence has continued in his role of Trump defender for nearly a year, a task he privately acknowledged is challenging, according to The Atlantic. During the transition, Pence told a potential adviser in an interview that he was in the “difficult position” of having to “100 percent defend everything the president says, The Atlantic reported. Pence asked the prospective staffer, “Is that something you’re going to be able to do if you’re on my staff?”

Read The Atlantic’s full story here.

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Even before Lauren Greene decided to come forward with her allegations of sexual harassment against her then-boss Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), she was advised by colleagues on Capitol Hill that her career in D.C. would be over if she went public.

“As soon as I decided to do this, I kind of had to come to the conclusion that D.C. was no longer going to be in the cards,” Greene, Farenthold’s former communications director, said in her first public television interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday night. “I was told, ‘Yeah, if you (do this) this would be career suicide.’”

In December 2014, Greene sued Farenthold over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, TPM reported at the time. She alleged that one of Farenthold’s male staffers told her the congressman had “wet dreams” and “sexual fantasies” about her and that Farenthold drank too much and told her inappropriate things about his sex life.

Greene dropped the suit when the two agreed to an $84,000 settlement, which was secretly paid using taxpayers dollars by the Office of Compliance. The Office of Congressional Ethics investigated the allegations against Farenthold as well, but found that Greene’s complaints were unsubstantiated.

“It was certainly a difficult decision to make,” Greene said Monday of choosing to sue the congressman. “I really just felt that I had to stand up for myself. I just thought that I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I didn’t.”

In an interview with Politico, the first outlet to speak with Greene publicly, she called Washington a “boys club.”

“I think that a lot of things are just understood and you’ve got to play by the rules and keep quiet about it,” she said. “That’s just kind of the mentality, from my experience. And so, I feel like the feedback that was given to me was: If I wouldn’t stay quiet and fall in line, then my career was over.”

She said the move “stagnated” her career for a while and she was, as predicted, unable to get a job in Washington after the lawsuit and settlement. She has worked a lot of “short-term” and temporary jobs, and said she was has been “unable to get back to where I was.” Now 30, she currently does temporary work for a homebuilder and babysits on the side. 

Which is unfortunate. And you know, I have reason to believe that there have been a couple of jobs I haven’t gotten, you know, because they kind of, they Googled my name,” she said. “And I think it somehow is perceived as a negative. And, so, you know, so you have that against you.”

She said she’s excited about the change in climate surrounding sexual harassment and misconduct, calling the recent movement a moment of “reckoning.”

It’s more than a moment because a moment is fleeting and this doesn’t feel fleeting,” she said. “I think you already see change, you know, happening, and people being held accountable.”

Both Farenthold and Greene signed a confidentiality agreement with the settlement, so neither is allowed to talk about the incident. On Monday, Farenthold said he plans to pay back taxpayers for the $84,000 settlement the Office of Compliance paid out for him and said he’d like to have more “transparency” within the system that handles sexual harassment and misconduct complaints against members of Congress.

When asked whether she would be willing to dissolve the agreement so she and Farenthold can speak publicly about the incident, she said “absolutely.”

“I have nothing to hide,” she said. “I think transparency is important.”

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Another woman came forward on Monday to accuse Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of sexual misconduct, alleging that the congressman inappropriately touched several female staffers and regularly undressed in front of female staff.

Attorney Lisa Bloom released an affidavit from former Conyers staffer Elisa Grubbs on Twitter Monday night. Grubbs said she witnessed Conyers “touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of Marion Brown and other female staffers on multiple occasions.” Brown accused Conyers of firing her for refusing his sexual advances and alleged that the congressman touched her inappropriately and asked her to satisfy him sexually in a Chicago hotel room in 2005.

Grubbs said in the affidavit that she overheard Conyers invite Brown to his hotel room in Chicago in 2005 and said that when she saw Brown afterward, Brown was “visibly shaken and upset” and said that the congressman tried to have sex with her.

Grubbs also said that Conyers “slid his hand up my skirt and rubbed my thighs” and once came out of the bathroom in his home completely naked while he knew Grubbs was there. Grubbs is Brown’s cousin, and Conyers would call them “Big Leg Cousins,” Grubbs alleged in the affidavit.

She said that it was common to witness Conyers rubbing the thighs and buttocks of female staffers and that he “regularly undressed in front of female office staff.”

Grubbs said that she complained to two senior staffers about Conyers’ behavior but that no action was ever taken.

Conyers faces allegations of sexual misconduct from several women, but has so far resisted calls from leaders in his own party to resign.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Sheryl Sandberg warned of a potential backlash against women and urged companies to put into place clear policies on how allegations of sexual harassment are handled.

In a lengthy Facebook post over the weekend, the chief operating officer at Facebook wrote that organizations under pressure to beef up policies for handling allegations of sexual misconduct may be tempted to limit their exposure by limiting opportunities for women.

“I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,'” Sanders wrote, referring to the rising chorus of women — and some men — alleging sexual misconduct in the workplace. “Actually, this is why you should.”

That movement, following the high-profile sexual misconduct scandals of powerful men including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer, is empowering victims to speak up — but Sandberg said it isn’t enough.

“Too many workplaces lack clear policies about how to handle accusations of sexual harassment,” she wrote. She recommends every workplace start with clear principles and put in place policies to support them. That includes creating training sessions on proper workplace behavior, taking all claims seriously, establishing an investigation process and taking swift, decisive action against wrongdoing.

“We have to be vigilant to make sure this happens,” Sandberg wrote.

Sandberg also said that she has experienced harassment while doing her job, although never from anyone she’s worked for. She noted, however, that in each instance the harasser had more power than she did.

“That’s not a coincidence,” the 48-year-old wrote. “It’s why they felt free to cross that line.”

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental groups are suing to block President Donald Trump’s decision to scale back a national monument in Utah just hours after the decision was announced.

The lawsuit filed Monday by Earthjustice on behalf of several groups challenges the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which has been a source of Republican frustration since it was created by Bill Clinton in 1996.

The monument near the Arizona border contains a rich cache of dinosaur fossils and vast coal reserves.

Trump said in Salt Lake City that Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be reduced by half, from nearly 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers) to 1,569 square miles (4,064 square kilometers).

He also reduced Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. A coalition of American Indian tribes plans to sue over that decision.


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