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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mueller Retort: Sanders, Welch and Leahy Give Scathing Critiques of Trump's Actions

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 6:06 PM

Vermont’s congressional delegation on Thursday rejected U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s defense of President Donald Trump
Sen. Patrick Leahy - FILE
  • File
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
 as “spin” and vowed to continue congressional investigations into the findings of the newly released Mueller report.

Statements by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) made it clear that while the Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be finished with his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Congress is just getting warmed up.

"Nothing can hide that this report amounts to a formal presentment of misconduct that reached the highest levels of the Trump campaign and administration," Leahy wrote in a statement. “Members of the Trump campaign were not simply useful pawns in Russia’s attack on our elections. They were eager, unapologetic beneficiaries of Russia’s interference.”

Leahy was in Vietnam Thursday. Welch was in Colombia, and Sanders was campaigning for president, according to their spokespeople. All issued written statements about the redacted version of Mueller’s report.

Mueller found insufficient evidence to prove members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russians to interfere with the election, and Barr claimed there was “no collusion.” Barr concluded that none of the 10 actions by Trump that Mueller investigated for possible obstruction of justice amounted to a crime.

Leahy took a dimmer view of their import. Leahy took Trump to task for trying to “manipulate and delegitimize” the investigation, including by firing FBI director James Comey, and said the efforts “demean his office and demean the rule of law.”

Welch blasted as “biased and incomplete” Barr’s characterization of the 448-page report, and stressed that Congress should hold hearings to “reach independent conclusions about President Trump's conduct and how best to hold him accountable.”

Welch said he found the documented contacts Trump's campaign had with Russians to be troubling.

“The multitude of contacts between campaign and Russian operatives before and after the election is reprehensible and marks a break from the longstanding practice of shunning foreign influence in American elections,” Welch wrote.

Welch has long said he needed to see the full report before he could opine on whether Trump committed obstruction or should face impeachment.
Now that he’s seen it, Welch said that, contrary to Barr’s characterization, it
outlines “detailed and substantial evidence” that Trump and his campaign “did everything they could to obstruct and undermine the investigation.”

Welch said Congress should obtain an unredacted copy of the report and hold hearings into whether obstruction of justice in fact occurred. Barr said during a press conference he was planning to release an unredacted copy to certain members of Congress and had no objection to Mueller testifying.

Welch concluded: “As Congress begins the next phase of this sordid chapter in American history, it is vital that we work to restore the norms of our democracy so essential to our future: respect for the rule of law, respect for our institutions, respect for the truth, and respect for the right of American voters to elect their president free from foreign interference."

Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE
  • File
  • Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders, who was campaigning in South Carolina, issued the briefest and most general statement of the three.

Sanders said Congress must continue its investigation "into Trump's conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election" and called upon Trump and Republicans to "stop obstructing the necessary work to protect our democracy."

Asked about the report Thursday afternoon, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said he hadn't seen it yet. 

"We have a balanced approach in Congress at this point: the Republican Senate and the Democratic House," Scott said. "I hope we stick to the facts rather than getting into partisan battles." 

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Governor's Staff Emails: Burlington Mayor's Autopsy Request 'Does Not Feel Right'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 3:36 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Top state officials were alarmed by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger's last-minute request that the governor intervene to delay the release of autopsy findings linking a man's death to an altercation with a city cop.

Weinberger's chief of staff, Jordan Redell, texted, called and emailed the governor's office on the morning of April 10, just as Vermont State Police were preparing to announce that the state medical examiner classified Doug Kilburn's death as a homicide, the emails state.

"She was energetically reaching out trying to have us intervene to pause the release," Jason Gibbs, chief of staff for Gov. Phil Scott, wrote later that day to the heads of the Department of Public Safety and the Vermont State Police.

"That does not feel right to me, at any level," he wrote in another internal email.

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Four to Be Charged With Murder in Burlington Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 2:49 PM

Breaking News

Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street. - BURLINGTON POLICE
  • Burlington police
  • Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street.
Four people will be charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Benzel Hampton in Burlington's Old North End on Tuesday, Burlington police announced Thursday.

Lesine Woodson, 32; James Felix, 36; Brandon Sanders, 18; and Johnny Ford, 32, are all in custody, according to Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo.

Cops say Felix, Sanders and Ford attacked Hampton just before 3 p.m. Tuesday at 235 North Willard Street, where Hampton was completing a drug deal. Hampton and his attackers exchanged gunfire, and Hampton was fatally shot in the head, authorities said. The attackers fled in a vehicle driven by Woodson.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Burlington Officials Sought to Change 'Homicide' Finding in Police Case

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 8:52 PM

Dr. Steven Shapiro, Vermont's chief medical examiner - FILE/MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File/Matthew Thorsen
  • Dr. Steven Shapiro, Vermont's chief medical examiner
Burlington city officials sought to influence how the state's chief medical examiner classified a Burlington man's death after learning that the autopsy would link it to punches thrown by a city cop.

State police announced last week that the medical examiner had deemed Douglas Kilburn's death a homicide. Earlier that morning, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo had contacted the state's top health official with "concerns" about the quality of the medical examiner's work and suggested that his conclusion might be "amended," emails obtained through Vermont's public records law show.

"I have conferred with the mayor and we are in agreement in requesting clarification of these findings before they are made public," del Pozo wrote to Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine.

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Middlebury College Cancels Forum Featuring Conservative Polish Leader

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 2:28 PM

Ryszard Legutko - MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE
  • Middlebury College
  • Ryszard Legutko
Updated 6:30 p.m.

Middlebury College officials cancelled a forum Wednesday that would have featured conservative Polish politician and academic Ryszard Legutko, saying they were concerned that they could not guarantee people’s safety as protestors organized.

But Legutko still spoke informally to students in a Middlebury classroom at the Robert A. Jones House late Wednesday afternoon.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Vermont Legislators Wary After Trump Signs Pipeline Orders

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 9:09 PM

Luke Martland, director of the Office of Legislative Council, testifies before the House Energy and Technology Committee Tuesday. - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • Luke Martland, director of the Office of Legislative Council, testifies before the House Energy and Technology Committee Tuesday.
President Donald Trump’s two recent executive orders aimed at speeding up the construction of oil and gas pipelines have raised concerns among Vermont legislators who are considering a ban on such projects.

The orders, signed April 10, will make it easier for companies to build oil and gas pipeline projects, and harder for states to use the federal Clean Water Act to block them.

Meanwhile, local environmental groups want to see Vermont take bolder action to address climate change, including by restricting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the state.

The House Energy and Technology Committee is considering three bills that would do just that. H.51 would outright ban new fossil fuel infrastructure; H.175 would limit the use of eminent domain for pipeline projects; and H.214 would require the Public Utility Commission to consider potential fuel leaks in groundwater when approving new natural gas facilities.

A public hearing on the three bills is scheduled for April 23.

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One Dead After Shootout in Burlington's Old North End

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street. - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street.
A 23-year-old man was killed and another man was injured during a Tuesday afternoon shootout in Burlington's Old North End.

The two men shot each other in the driveway of a North Willard Street home, police said in a press release. Benzel Hampton was shot in the head and died. The other man, whom Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo did not identify, was also shot but is expected to survive.

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Middlebury College Bristles Over Planned Forum Featuring Polish Conservative

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 5:38 PM

McCardell Bicentennial Hall - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • McCardell Bicentennial Hall
Update: On Wednesday morning, Middlebury College canceled Legutko's talk.

More than 300 students and faculty at Middlebury College have signed a letter protesting a lecture scheduled for Wednesday by conservative Polish politician, philosopher and writer Ryszard Legutko.

Legutko's writings suggest that contemporary liberalism shares a trait with the communist leadership under which he grew up: a tendency to stifle free speech.

It's been two years since angry protestors shut down a lecture on campus by ultraconservative author Charles Murray. A Middlebury professor, Allison Stanger, was injured by protesters as she helped Murray flee to a waiting car.
Ryszard Legutko - MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE
  • Middlebury College
  • Ryszard Legutko
This week's dustup has similar themes. 

An online protest letter brands Legutko a racist and a homophobe and asks the Middlebury Political Science Department and Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs not to sponsor the talk, set for 4:30 p.m. at the McCardell Bicentennial Hall.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Sanders Releases 10 Years of Income Tax Returns

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 8:31 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders - FILE: SOPHIE MACMILLAN
  • File: Sophie MacMillan
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders

Railing against income inequality has made Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) a wealthy man.

Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, released 10 years of federal income tax returns Monday showing that their financial fortunes have soared along with the senator's political aspirations.

The returns show that the couple earned nearly $2.8 million in the three years since Sanders’ first presidential campaign catapulted him to national political prominence.

After years of earning less than $300,000, Sanders’ income shot up to $1,073,333 in 2016, mostly on the sale of his best-selling book Our Revolution.
The book was released in November 2016, after his rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, lost the presidential election to Donald Trump.

The following year, Sanders earned slightly more, $1,131,925, again largely on royalties from the book’s publisher, Macmillan.

The income from royalties dropped off sharply last year, however, falling from $855,000 to $391,000. That figure could very well bounce back, given that Sanders’ followup book, Where We Go From Here, was released by Macmillan in November.

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Weinberger: Migrants Welcome in Burlington if Trump Carries Out Plan

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking Monday - COURTNEY LAMDIN
  • Courtney Lamdin
  • Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking Monday
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said the city would welcome migrants apprehended at the southern border if President Donald Trump makes good on his plan to send them to sanctuary cities.

Weinberger first announced his position Saturday afternoon following the president’s tweet Friday that he is "giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities," or municipalities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Weinberger has vowed to buck the Trump administration's immigration policies before, and on Monday, the mayor called the president's latest proposal “un-American.”

“Here in Burlington, we do not buy into, we do not support [Trump’s] very dark vision of immigrants that are attempting to come to this country to seek asylum,” Weinberger said at an afternoon news conference.

He said immigrants are often “fleeing very difficult situations” and have enriched Burlington’s community.

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