TRUMP DAMAGES EPA AS SESSIONS COMES UNDER FIRE FOR RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS

If the past days have been any indication, the phrase “March Madness” is about to take on a political meaning. Since taking office, Donald Trump has acted on his election promise to severely limit the Environmental Protection Agency. On the campaign trail he stated “We are going to get rid of it in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left. But we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.” In the last forty days, Trump has appointed oil ally, Scott Pruitt, as head of the EPA (in the past, Pruitt has publicly expressed his disdain for the organization), he has proposed massive job cuts, he has undone Obama legislation that protected waterways from coal mining waste, and on Tuesday he signed an executive order that would further damage the EPA and water safety for millions of Americans. His action targets the “Waters of the United States” rule, also known as the “Clean Water Rule. The 2015 ruling was written to clarify which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act, reports indicate that the ruling protects drinking water for 117 million people, roughly one in three Americans. It protects small streams and other minor waterways. Trump’s new order wants the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineer to “review and reconsider” the rule so that the protected waterways are limited to larger bodies of water. Since the EPA is now headed by Pruitt, a Republican with deep ties to the oil industry, this order could prove to be extremely damaging. In response, seven presidents of scientific organization have signed a letter opposing Trump’s action. On April 22nd, Earth Day thousands are expected to participate in the March for Science.

Jeff Sessions on the day he was confirmed as Attorney General. He is now being accused of lying under oath amidst news that he had contact with Russia during the election. Image courtesy of Getty.

Equally contentious as Trump’s handling of the EPA is the debate over his links with Russia. Last night, March 1st, it was announced that a House intelligence panel will investigate this relationship. Earlier that day, the New York Times published an article stating that in the last days of the Obama administration, White House officials purposely spread information and left a paper trail that confirmed Russia’s efforts to undermine the election. Almost immediately following the initial inquiry announcement, news broke that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, in July and September. This has led to a bi-partisan uproar. During his confirmation hearing Sessions stated “I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign.” Democrats are now demanding that he resign from his position. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has accused Session of “lying under oath” and leaders from both political parties are strongly suggesting that he recuse himself from the current FBI probe into Russian hacking which he is currently overseeing. Dealings with Kislyak have already cost the Trump administration one major casualty. Last month, Nation Security Advisor Michael Flynn was fired over his conversations with the Russian ambassador. The best possible scenario for Democrats would be that Sessions follows a similar fate.

In other Trump news, the California city of Richmond has become the first to unanimously approve a model resolution that could lead to the president’s impeachment. Drafted by the legal organization, Free Speech For People, the resolution calls for an investigation into Trump’s business dealings, which many believe violates the U.S. Constitution under the Foreign Emoluments and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.

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