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HC Wake-Up Call: Lawmakers to Question Cohen Again, Republicans Tell Trump to Back Down on Border Security & White House Not Cooperating in Security Clearance Probe


Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Lawmakers to Question Michael Cohen Again Next Week

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer, was “fully cooperative” with the House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door hearing on Thursday, and will return for a second round of questioning next week.

“I am committed to telling the truth and I will be back on March 6th to finish up,” Cohen told reporters as he left Capitol Hill following more than seven hours answering questions, ABC News reports.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) did not discuss the specifics of Cohen’s hearing Thursday, but did say that the committee was able to “go into great detail” about some key parts of Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee, as well as topics that were not addressed in that open hearing, Politico reports.

“This has obviously been an excruciating time for him, and we are very grateful that he was as forthcoming as he was,” Schiff told reporters after the hearing. “None of the questions we had for him went unanswered.”

Schiff added that Cohen’s testimony was “very productive” and “shed light on a lot of issues that are very important to our investigation,” and that the testimony will eventually be made public.

With Cohen’s testimony before both of the House committees, Democrats have been mapping out their follow-up investigations.

Schiff announced Thursday that the House Intelligence Committee will be holding an open hearing with former Trump business associate Felix Sater on March 14th to discuss the Trump Tower Moscow project, which Cohen had initially lied about to the committees.

According to an aide, the House Intelligence Committee plans to call former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg to testify, Politico reports. Weisselberg was implicated by Cohen during his testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. According to Cohen, Weisselberg was heavily involved in the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, and that he had signed signed one of the reimbursement checks.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that after learning new information on Wednesday, the committee would be probing the hush money payments and that anyone mentioned by Cohen during his testimony — including Donald Trump Jr. and Weisselberg — would “have a good chance of hearing from us,” ABC News reports.

“What we did yesterday was we gathered a lot of information,” Cummings said Thursday. “We may not look into it on our committee, but one of the five or six committees will. And that’s one of the things we have to discuss to figure out.”

Republicans Pressure Trump to Back Down on Border Security

Senate Republican leaders are pressuring President Donald Trump to step down from his national emergency declaration or potentially face pushback from the GOP.

The message was sent by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) Thursday as Senate Republicans don’t want to have to face off the president over the emergency declaration issue.

“I support what the president wants to do on border security, but I do not support the way he has been advised to do it,” Alexander said in a speech on the Senate floor. “It is unnecessary and unwise to turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis.”

Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border two weeks ago after failing to secure the $5.7 billion he requested from Congress for a border wall.

The Democratic-controlled House voted on Tuesday, primarily along party lines, to block Trump’s emergency declaration, Politico reports.

Alexander did not specifically say whether he would support a disapproval resolution, but he did urge the Trump administration to take other funds Congress has authorized for the Treasury Department and the Department of Defense drug interdiction efforts, The Huffington Post reports.

“There is time for the president’s lawyers to take another look,” Alexander said, saying that the emergency declaration could set a “dangerous precedent” that future Democratic presidents could use to push through their agenda without congressional approval.

“He’s got sufficient funding without a national emergency, he can build a wall and avoid a dangerous precedent,” Alexander told reporters.

If Alexander were to support a disapproval resolution, it would be a significant step in passing the resolution in the Senate. Three Republicans have already said they would join with Democrats to vote for the disapproval resolution, and only four Republicans are needed to pass the resolution.

White House Allegedly Not Cooperating in Security Clearance Probe

The House Oversight Committee recently announced it was launching its own wide-ranging security clearance investigation, including a review of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s security clearance.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a statement Thursday that the White House has not “produced a single document” or interview in response to the committee’s request, The Huffington Post reports.

Cummings has threatened to obtain documents in other ways if the Trump administration does not start cooperating with the committee’s probe.

“The Committee expects full compliance with its requests as soon as possible, or it may become necessary to consider alternative means to compel compliance,” he said.

A top-secret security clearance had been ordered for Kushner, who is also the president’s senior adviser, last May. Trump had previously denied that he had any role in giving Kushner his clearance, and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, had reiterated that claim earlier this month. But in a new report Thursday, those comments were contradicted, as it turned out that Trump allegedly ordered the security clearance for his son-in-law even though objections were raised by intelligence and White House officials over it, ABC News reports.

“The security clearance process is supposed to function in an even-handed and neutral manner based on the national security interests of the United States,” Cummings said in a statement Thursday. “This latest report indicates that President Trump may have granted access to our most sensitive classified information to his son-in-law against the advice of career staff — directly contradicting the President’s public denials that he played any role.”

In a joint statement, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said his committee was working with the House Oversight Committee as it investigates the White House’s security clearance.

“It’s called clearance by nepotism and a serious abuse that endangers our security,” Schiff tweeted Thursday.

Joining Schiff’s statement, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said he was “concerned that the President has jeopardized our national security by putting clearances in the hand of unscrupulous people, and against the recommendations of background investigators.”

“Security clearances should be issued based on trust, not by blood or bond,” he said.

What to look out for…

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