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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Welch: It's 'Premature' to Seek Trump's Impeachment

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 3:05 PM

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaks at a press conference at the Burlington International Airport Tuesday. - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaks at a press conference at the Burlington International Airport Tuesday.
Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) isn't ready to use the I-word.

At least two of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. House have called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump over his ties to Russia, but Welch declined to do the same Tuesday at a South Burlington press conference. In a written statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also fended off calls for impeachment, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not immediately respond to a request for his position.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump shared highly classified intelligence with Russia's foreign minister and U.S. ambassador last week during a meeting in the Oval Office. The day before that meeting, the president fired FBI director James Comey, a decision he later said was influenced in part by the bureau's investigation of his campaign's ties to Russia. That prompted Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) to accuse Trump of obstructing justice and join Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in calling for the president's impeachment.

Welch took a more cautious stance Tuesday morning during an unrelated press conference at Burlington International Airport. Vermont's sole U.S. House member called Trump's actions "pretty stupid." But when asked whether the president had committed an impeachable offense, Welch said, "He's got the legal authority. I think it's a judgment issue."

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Walters: Bernie Sanders Headed Across the Pond for Book Tour

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 6:54 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: ERIC TADSEN
  • File: Eric Tadsen
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is taking his message to Great Britain and Ireland, appearing at six events during an action-packed four days beginning June 1.

The mini-tour is designed to promote the British paperback release of Sanders’ book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. The dates coincide with a long weekend in the U.S. Senate’s calendar, so if his travel arrangements come off without a hitch, he won’t miss any days at work.

News of his tour was not easy to come by. We first caught wind of it via several reports in the British and Irish press, though there appeared to be no official tour announcement. The senator’s office, meanwhile, was no help whatsoever; we inquired after hearing of tour stops in Dublin and Oxford, and got the following terse emailed response from Sanders staffer Josh Miller-Lewis:

“It is a book event. You should contact the publisher.”

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Leahy, Sanders Slam Trump Over Comey Firing

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 8:14 PM

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders
Vermont's two U.S. senators strongly rebuked President Donald Trump Tuesday night over his firing of FBI Director James Comey. The pair suggested that the move was motivated by a desire to stymie an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"The president has removed the sitting FBI director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country — one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration," Leahy, a longtime member and former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a written statement. "This is nothing less than Nixonian."

Sanders called Comey's firing "deeply troubling" and said it "raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding."

"President Trump has repeatedly taken steps to kill inquiries into Russia's involvement in the U.S. election," Vermont's junior senator said in his own written statement. "It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation."

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Suspect in Burlington College Burglary Won't Face Charges

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 8:48 PM

Burlington College - FILE: NATALIE WILLIAMS
  • File: Natalie Williams
  • Burlington College
A man suspected of stealing computers last year from Burlington College after it had closed down will not face criminal prosecution, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said.

Federal authorities are continuing to investigate a land deal brokered by former Burlington College president Jane O'Meara Sanders, the wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). News of that investigation broke last week, and has led to renewed interest in the unsolved burglary.

Police responded to a break-in at the college that occurred on either July 24 or July 25. It was two months after the school had closed due to financial difficulties stemming in part from the purchase of its North Avenue campus.

There was no sign of forced entry and the door had likely been left unlocked, Burlington police officers said in an affidavit. Additionally, someone had disabled security cameras.

Several offices had been vandalized, and water had been poured on some computer servers. "In numerous offices, items were tipped over and damaged," police records say. "Computer monitors and computers were thrown about the rooms."

The college's main server, roughly 15-20 Macintosh computers and the school's Ford van were missing. Some records of students from Israel had been taken as well.

A college representative told police that "several things were odd about the burglary," the records say. "She stated she felt like an individual would have to know the keys to the van were kept in her office in order to locate the keys."

On July 26, police in Troy, N.Y. found the missing van after it crashed through a fence. They arrested Brett H. Seglem, who had allegedly been driving, according to police documents. Passengers in the van told police that they met Seglem in nearby Albany and he offered to drive them to Philadelphia. In the van, he bragged to them that he had stolen the vehicle and computers from Burlington College, according to police documents.

The computers were found inside the crashed van, along with some Burlington College banners. But the server was not recovered, according to police documents.

Police found a sign that read, "Traveling Broke & Hungry."

In an interview, del Pozo said that the Chittenden County State's Attorney's Office twice declined to prosecute Seglem for the alleged burglary, citing a lack of evidence.

Reached in New Jersey, Seglem's mother, Joanne Seglem, told Seven Days that her son is a drug addict who has struggled for years. She declined to discuss the case. Brett Seglem could not be located for comment.

An associate of Seglem's told police that he had been squatting last summer in an unused college building in the Burlington area, according to the affidavit.

VTDigger.org first reported details of the burglary in September.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Welch Votes ‘Hell No’ on Obamacare Repeal

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Congressman Peter Welch - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Congressman Peter Welch
Updated at 8:11 p.m.

Calling it a “dark day in the history of the United States Congress,” U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Thursday voted against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But by a narrow vote of 217 to 213, Republicans prevailed in their months-long quest to pass the American Health Care Act, a top priority for President Donald Trump.

Speaking on the floor of the House earlier Thursday, Welch said, “President Trump was elected by rural America. This bill betrays rural America.” He said the legislation would cause more than 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage, discriminate against those with preexisting conditions and serve as a tax cut for the wealthy.

On social media, Welch said he planned to vote “hell no” on the repeal. Following the vote, he said in a statement, “I am hopeful the Senate will scrap this trash and start from scratch.”

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Verexit? Secession Movement Gains Steam After Trump Election

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 3:47 PM

A new poll found that nearly 21 percent of Vermonters think the state should consider “peaceably leaving the United States and becoming an independent republic, as it was from 1777 to 1791.”

That’s a jump from 11.8 percent of respondents who agreed with a similar proposal in a 2007 poll.*

The increase in secessionist sentiment — measured in surveys conducted by the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies — could reflect a Trump bump.

“Given the aggressive and destructive behavior of the United States of Empire this past decade, it is not surprising that more and more forward-thinking Vermonters support independence and a Second Vermont Republic,” Rob Williams, the leader of a Verexit campaign, said in a prepared statement.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Bernie Sanders Brings His Message to Ben & Jerry's St. Albans Plant

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 5:22 PM

Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at the Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at the Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took his economic populist message to the Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans on Friday, telling employees that the company is a model of corporate responsibility.

"This company has had an impact in getting the word out to other corporations in Vermont and America that the bottom line is not enough," Sanders told a crowd of 100 workers employed by a company known for its philanthropic and social justice efforts.

In a 40-minute speech and question-and-answer session, Sanders hammered home familiar campaign themes and went after President Donald Trump, saying the Republican has strayed from his campaign promise to look out for working-class Americans.

"If you follow everything he's been doing, it's exactly the opposite," Sanders said.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Walters: No, Bernie's Not Running (Yet)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 2:40 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: JOHN WALTERS
  • File: John Walters
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
Vermont Public Radio led off its Wednesday afternoon newscast with a bit of a bombshell: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is running for reelection in 2018!

Wow, I thought. Did Bernie make an announcement that I missed? Did VPR have some red-hot inside information?

Well, no. Sanders has not, in fact, declared his intentions for 2018 or any other year, for that matter.

VPR's report, a condensed version of a piece by veteran journalist Bob Kinzel, was based entirely on the text of an email sent Tuesday by the Sanders campaign. The email announced a multistate tour by Sanders during the current Congressional recess. It wrapped up with a fundraising pitch: "Please make a $27 contribution to my reelection campaign to help fund this national tour."

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Leahy Changes Tune, Backs Gorsuch Filibuster

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 5:11 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy questions Judge Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. - RON SACHS / CNP VIA AP
  • Ron Sachs / CNP via AP
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy questions Judge Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) did an about-face Monday and joined his caucus in an attempt to halt a Senate vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Leahy had been clear that he opposes Gorsuch’s ascendancy to the court. What’s new is his support for the parliamentary move to try to stop the Senate from voting on President Donald Trump’s nominee.

“I am not inclined to filibuster,” Leahy told VTDigger.org last week, “even though I’m not inclined to vote for him.”

He said otherwise during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday. “I will not support advancing this nomination,” Leahy declared — which is to say he now is inclined to filibuster.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Walters: Leahy, Sanders & Welch Take Hardwick By Storm

Posted By on Sun, Mar 26, 2017 at 6:56 AM

Sen. Patrick Leahy in Hardwick on Saturday - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy in Hardwick on Saturday
The line of the day, surprisingly, didn’t come from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) but from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

“I am not going to vote for $25 billion for a dumb-ass wall!” he thundered, referring to President Donald Trump’s proposed barrier along the United States’ southern border. The crowd leaped to its feet and roared.

It was that kind of an afternoon in the gymnasium at Hardwick’s Hazen Union High School, an unlikely venue for a gathering of Vermont’s entire congressional delegation. After all, we’re talking about a town of 3,000 that’s, honestly, kind of hard to get to. Worth the effort, but an unlikely gathering place for top-shelf national politicos.

The Saturday event was an all-out pep rally for the progressive cause, headlined by Leahy, Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.). If there were any Republicans in the audience, they kept it on the down low.

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