Tuesday, April 2, 2019


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by: Senator Tammy Duckworth (D - IL)

Washington, D.C. - April 1, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 28 of their colleagues in re-introducing legislation requiring the President and Vice President to disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest. The Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act would also require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from any specific matters involving the president's financial conflicts of interest that come before their agencies.

"It should never be a question whether the President and the Vice President of the United States are doing what's best for themselves or what's best for the American people,” said Duckworth. “That's why I am joining Senators Warren and Durbin in re-introducing the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act to ensure every presidential administration meets what have been the strongest ethical standards for decades. Government officials must do everything in their power to eliminate conflicts of interest because the American people-not personal profit-always come first.”

“Elected officials have a solemn responsibility to always put the interests of the American people above their own,” Durbin said. “I’ve been concerned that President Trump and his cabinet’s financial entanglements could impact their ability to lead our nation and make choices without conflicts of interest. I’m reintroducing this bill because transparency and accountability is sorely needed in this Administration.”

“Corruption has always been the central stain of this presidency,” said Senator Warren. “This bill would force President Trump to fully divest from the same Trump properties and assets that special interests have spent two-plus years patronizing to try and curry favor with this administration – all while lining the President’s pockets.”

Currently, Presidents and Vice Presidents are exempt from many federal financial conflicts of interest laws, but for decades presidents have addressed concerns regarding foreign and domestic conflicts of interest by divesting their financial interests and placing them in a true blind trust or the equivalent. To ensure compliance with the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, the bill would codify this longstanding practice by:

  • Requiring the President, Vice President, their spouses, and minor or dependent children to divest all interests that create financial conflicts of interest by placing those assets in a true blind trust, which would be managed by an independent trustee who would oversee the sale of assets and place the proceeds in conflict-free holdings;
  • Adopting a sense of the Congress that the President's violation of financial conflicts of interest laws or the ethics requirements that apply to executive branch employees constitute a high crime or misdemeanor under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution; and
  • Prohibiting presidential appointees from participating in matters that directly involve the financial interests of the president.

  • In June of 2017, Duckworth and Durbin both joined a lawsuit alleging President Trump has violated the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause. Last October, they wrote a letter to President Trump asking for full disclosure on any financial ties between the Trump Organization and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    In addition to Duckworth, Durbin and Warren, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

    Daines Statement on President Trump’s Keystone XL Presidential Permit

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    by: Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)

    Washington, D.C. - April 1, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Steve Daines issued the following statement following President Trump’s presidential permit on the Keystone XL pipeline.

    “President Trump’s announcement today is a big win for Montana and our nation,” Daines said. “After over ten years of review, this pipeline that will create roughly 800 construction jobs and spur millions in revenue for Montana’s rural communities and schools, will finally become a reality. I applaud President Trump for his leadership and commitment in getting this done.”

    To read more on the President’s permit, click HERE.

    Zuckerberg Comments on Hateful Activities Are First Step Toward Changing the Terms

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    by: Free Press

    Washington, D.C. - April 1, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Over the weekend, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for internet rules to better govern harmful content on social media. In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Zuckerberg wrote, “we have a responsibility to keep people safe on our services. That means deciding what counts as terrorist propaganda, hate speech and more.”

    Zuckerberg added that Facebook alone shouldn’t make important decisions about harmful speech. Earlier this year, the founder of the world’s largest social network proposed the creation of an independent oversight board that would operate free of Facebook to oversee critical content-blocking decisions but whose decisions are binding.

    In past years, Free Press and other public-interest advocates proposed that Facebook create an expanded version of a public editor to assess the platform’s many content-related decisions. Late last year, Free Press and other civil- and human-rights organizations and free-speech advocates launched Change the Terms, a campaign urging tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to combat hateful activities on their platforms.

    Change the Terms has created model corporate policies to help internet companies stop hate and extremism online and ensure that they do more to protect people of color, women, LGBTQIA people, religious minorities and other marginalized communities.

    Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Carmen Scurato made the following statement:

    “We agree with Mark Zuckerberg that online platforms need to do much more to address the spread of hatred across their networks. The good news is that some companies have taken concrete efforts to curb hateful activities on their websites and services. But it’s time to move from words to action: to invest the time and effort it takes to listen to the concerns of people that online extremism most harms.

    “We’ve outlined this approach in detail at ChangetheTerms.org with a set of recommended policies and terms of service that could serve as the roadmap to disrupt hateful activities online. Included in the Change the Terms recommendations is guidance on enforcement, transparency, staff training, governance and appeal rights.

    “It’s time to start this process in earnest. Coordinated online attacks by White supremacists have sparked violence offline everywhere from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to Christchurch and beyond. These attacks chill the online speech of those of us who are members of targeted groups, threatening our safety and freedom in real life. Silicon Valley must do more to ensure that it’s taking the spread of extremism on these platforms seriously.

    “Zuckerberg’s words this weekend may indicate a willingness among tech leaders to confront the forces of hate that threaten our democracies. We hope this is more than a public-relations ploy. Facebook and the rest of Silicon Valley can show they’re serious by committing to change the terms now.”