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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Milne Won't Challenge Scott or Sanders in 2018

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2018 at 8:57 AM

  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Scott Milne
Republican businessman and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne announced Thursday that he will not run for statewide office in 2018.

Milne told Seven Days last week that he was considering a run for office this year and had hinted that he might challenge Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the primary or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the general election.

The 59-year-old Pomfret resident and travel agency president ran against then-governor Peter Shumlin in 2014 and nearly unseated him. Two years later, he challenged Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) but lost by a much larger margin: 60 to 33 percent.

In an announcement to supporters and reporters Thursday morning, Milne said that more than 300 people had urged him to run for office in recent weeks. He directly criticized Sanders for an agenda he called "arthritic and driven by politics" but suggested that Sanders' reelection was a foregone conclusion.

"With his next term, I believe he has a final opportunity to prove that he is not just another flavor of the careerist politicians who’ve gotten us into this mess," Milne wrote.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Bernie Sanders to Seek Reelection to U.S. Senate

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 9:44 AM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
Updated at 12:20 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has formally announced that he is running for reelection this fall.

In a press release announcing the decision Monday, the two-term U.S. senator said he would seek another six years in Congress to continue fighting wealth inequality in the country.

“Our struggle to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice — must continue,” Sanders said. “And that is why I’m running for reelection.”

The candidate said he would formally launch his campaign in June with rallies across Vermont.

According to campaign spokesperson Arianna Jones, Sanders plans to seek the Democratic nomination in Vermont’s August primary. If he wins, she said, he would “respectfully” decline the nomination and run as an independent in the general election. Sanders would, however, accept the endorsement of the Vermont Democratic Party.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Sean Hannity's Real Estate Empire Includes Okemo Condo

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 6:32 PM

  • Dreamstime/Zhukovsky
  • Sean Hannity
An investigation by the Guardian revealed Sunday that Fox News host Sean Hannity spent at least $90 million on more than 870 properties in seven states — including Vermont.

The story was sparked by the revelation in federal court last week that Hannity was a client of President Donald Trump's attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, whose home and office were raided the week before by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Speaking on Fox News after the court hearing, Hannity said his work with Cohen focused almost exclusively on real estate.

"I hate the stock market," he said. "I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate."

Hannity loves real estate so much that he bought dozens of properties out of foreclosure over the past decade, according to the Guardian. Some of those were purchased with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — a fact that Hannity failed to disclose during an interview last June with HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

So where, exactly, are the Fox News host's Vermont holdings?

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Welch Takes Campaign Cash From Telecom Regulated by His Wife

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 1:37 PM

Congressman Peter Welch and Public Utility Commissioner Margaret Cheney at a Vermont Democratic Party gathering - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck
  • Congressman Peter Welch and Public Utility Commissioner Margaret Cheney at a Vermont Democratic Party gathering
On March 1, Vermont Public Utility Commissioner Margaret Cheney signed permits for three T-Mobile cell towers in Chittenden County. Five days later, the company's political action committee spent $500 hosting Cheney's husband, Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), at a campaign fundraiser.

Within two weeks of the permit approvals, on March 12, the T-Mobile PAC cut a $2,500 check to Welch's reelection campaign. Soon after that, on March 27, T-Mobile filed another motion with Cheney’s Public Utility Commission, this time to update equipment at a Jay Peak cell site.

Welch and Cheney maintain that neither was involved in the other’s dealings with T-Mobile. They say a strict firewall separates their respective careers.

But the episode demonstrates how their work with regulated utilities could raise at least the perception of a conflict of interest. It also raises questions as to whether Welch has abided by a 2016 pledge to refuse campaign contributions from companies appearing before Cheney’s board.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Sanders Raises $1.26 Million for Senate Reelection Campaign

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 3:02 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) reelection campaign brought in more than $1.26 million in the first three months of 2018, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission.

That's more than five times what the senator raised during the same period last year, but it's less than the $1.29 million he collected in the second quarter of 2017 and the $1.95 million he raised in the third quarter of that year.

Sanders, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1990 and the Senate in 2006, has not said whether he will seek reelection this November. No other contenders had filed reports with the FEC as of Monday afternoon.

The vast majority of Sanders' donations this year came from individual contributors, though the campaign accepted $10,000 from labor and environmental political action committees, such as the Climate Champions PAC and the National Nurses United PAC.

During the same three-month period, Sanders spent nearly $533,000. That left him, at the end of March, with nearly $6.9 million in his Senate reelection fund. But Sanders, who has declined to say whether he would mount a second presidential campaign in 2020, isn't using the money simply to stump in Vermont.

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Welch: Trump Should Be Impeached If He Fires Mueller

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 2:27 PM

  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Rep. Peter Welch
Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said publicly for the first time Monday that President Donald Trump would be committing an "impeachable" offense if he were to seek the removal of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Asked what Congress should do if Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in order to remove Mueller, Welch said, "That would be grounds for Congress taking up the impeachment questions."

In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly criticized Mueller, whom Rosenstein appointed last May to investigate alleged ties between the president's 2016 campaign and Russia. While Trump cannot directly terminate the special counsel or end his investigation, he could order the acting attorney general — at the moment, Rosenstein — to do so.

But, according to Welch, "That would be obstruction of justice. The president is not above the law. No citizen is above the law."

Asked whether he would personally file articles of impeachment, Welch said, "I think it would be impeachable, and I would very likely support impeachment if he interfered with the investigation by firing [Mueller]."

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Vermont Delegation: Congress Must Approve Strikes on Syria

Posted By on Sat, Apr 14, 2018 at 10:44 PM

Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a press conference in January 2018 at Burlington International Airport - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a press conference in January 2018 at Burlington International Airport
Vermont's three-member congressional delegation faulted President Donald Trump on Saturday for launching air strikes against Syria without congressional approval or a clear strategy.

The United States, France and Britain fired more than 100 missiles at Syrian chemical weapons facilities late Friday, a week after forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad allegedly used such weapons against his own people.

In written statements issued following Friday's air strikes, Vermont's congressional delegates said that Assad's use of chemical weapons merited a response from the international community.

"But it is Congress' responsibility to declare war," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. "Threatening the use of military force by tweet, and firing off missiles without a coherent policy or clear legal authority, raises obvious dangers and constitutional concerns and risks drawing us into a wider war."

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Walters: Leahy Letter on Sessions May Have Sparked FBI Probe

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 7:21 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy - RON SACHS / CNP VIA AP
  • Ron Sachs / CNP via AP
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
Members of Congress write a lot of letters. Often, they make a big show of it. Usually, nothing more is ever heard.

But according to ABC News, a letter coauthored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and then-senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) may have touched off a Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied during his January 2017 confirmation hearing.

Leahy and Franken sent the letter in March 2017 to then-FBI director James Comey, asserting that Sessions had provided testimony that "appears to be discernibly false" regarding his contacts with the Russian government or its officials, which may have constituted perjury.

The senators asked Comey to "investigate all contacts the Russian ambassador, or other Russian officials, may have had with Attorney General Sessions or with his staff, and whether any laws were broken in the course of those contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred."

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Leahy Accuses Trump of Seeking to Intimidate Mueller, DOJ

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 3:33 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy on Monday at Burlington International Airport - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy on Monday at Burlington International Airport
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday accused President Donald Trump's administration of seeking to intimidate Special Counsel Robert Mueller by firing former Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy director Andrew McCabe.

"This is just trying to intimidate the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI," Leahy said during a press conference at Burlington International Airport. "I don't think Bob Mueller will be intimidated by anybody."

Speaking two days after McCabe's dismissal, the senior member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee also said that he was "concerned about the attacks now ramping up on" Mueller, comparing the situation to Watergate.

For the first time this weekend, Trump directly criticized Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, alleging that members of the special counsel's team were "hardened Democrats" and supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The day before, Trump lawyer John Dowd called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shutter the Mueller investigation.

Asked if the special counsel's firing would provoke a constitutional crisis, Leahy said, "I think so." But the senator would not say how he would respond to such an eventuality. "You'll see that if [Trump] does attempt to fire him, I'll make some very strong stands on that," Leahy said.

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Report: Trump Hiring Toensing's Stepfather to Combat Russia Probe

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 1:43 PM

Brady Toensing - FILE: CALEB KENNA
  • File: Caleb Kenna
  • Brady Toensing
The New York Times reported Monday that President Donald Trump plans to hire Joseph diGenova to represent him in the special counsel probe of Russian election meddling.

DiGenova, a prominent Washington, D.C.-based attorney, is the stepfather and law partner of Vermont Republican Party vice chair Brady Toensing. The Times report did not indicate whether Toensing or his mother and law partner, Victoria Toensing, would also represent the president.

Brady Toensing, who chaired Trump's 2016 Vermont campaign and lives in Charlotte, declined to comment Monday on whether he would be involved.

According to the Times report, which was attributed to three unnamed sources, Trump has not formally announced the hiring and could still change his mind. It said that diGenova would not play a "a lead role" but would be "a more aggressive player on the president’s legal team." DiGenova and his wife, who have also represented Blackwater founder Erik Prince and former Trump campaign chair Sam Clovis, are best known for their conspiratorial appearances on the Fox News channel.

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