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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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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sanders Lowballs Vermont Gun Deaths by an Order of Magnitude

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 12:13 PM

Updated at 1:26 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning to call for gun control legislation, but in doing so he understated the number of gun deaths in Vermont by an order of magnitude.

“In my small state of Vermont, between 2011 and 2016, 42 people were killed by guns,” Sanders said in his remarks.

That’s the same window of time Vermont Public Radio focused on last year in a series documenting gun deaths in Vermont, but Sanders’ figure was way off. VPR’s reporting, which was based on data provided by the Vermont Department of Health, found that 420 people were killed by guns between 2011 and 2016.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Sanders Backs Out of Interview After Failing to Dictate Conditions

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 2:13 PM

Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a press conference Monday morning at Burlington International Airport - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a press conference Monday morning at Burlington International Airport
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) backed out of an interview with Seven Days Monday morning after the newspaper refused to accept conditions his staff attempted to set. The senator then accused a Seven Days reporter of being a "gossip columnist."

A spokesman for Sanders, Daniel McLean, called the reporter Sunday evening to offer up an interview with his boss the next morning. McLean said Sanders could make time for a brief interview after appearing at a press conference at Burlington International Airport and before boarding a plane to Washington, D.C.

But McLean made clear that two subjects would be off the table: Sanders, the spokesman said, was not interested in answering questions about "political gossip" nor about the senator's family. He did not elaborate on either condition. (Sanders' wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, has been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors over her role leading the now-defunct Burlington College. His stepdaughter, Carina Driscoll, is running for mayor of Burlington.)

The reporter informed McLean that Seven Days does not allow politicians to set such restrictions in exchange for access. He also noted that it would be impossible to ask substantive, policy-oriented questions in such a brief exchange.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Sound of Silence: Bernie Sanders Spurns Seven Days for 1,000 Days

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Sen. Bernie Sanders clams up around Seven Days staff. - PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
  • Photo Illustration
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders clams up around Seven Days staff.
On April 30, 2015, NASA's Mercury spacecraft crash-landed on the surface of Mars, ending its four-year mission. After 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk!" finally dropped to the No. 2 spot. And in theaters the previous weekend, Furious 7 barely edged out Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 as the nation's highest-grossing film.

That afternoon — 1,000 days ago Wednesday — also marked the last time Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) granted an interview to the largest newspaper in his home state, Seven Days.

Sanders, who announced his presidential candidacy that morning on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, took roughly 10 minutes to explain to Seven Days by phone why he was seeking the Democratic nomination and how he'd balance the task with his job representing Vermont in the Senate.

"I am a hard worker and I will — we have a very strong staff, and I will devote a considerable amount of time to Vermont's issues as I run for president," he said.

In the 1,000 days since, Seven Days has made dozens of interview requests. Each time, the independent, locally owned newspaper has been rebuffed or ignored — even as Sanders has made time for the out-of-state "corporate media" he regularly slams.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Leahy, Sanders Vote Against Deal to Reopen Federal Government

Posted By on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 3:12 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) speaks at the Vermont Statehouse as Gov. Phil Scott, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) look on. - FILE: STEFAN HARD
  • File: Stefan Hard
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) speaks at the Vermont Statehouse as Gov. Phil Scott, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) look on.
Updated at 6:01 p.m.

Vermont’s two U.S. senators, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on Monday voted against a bipartisan, short-term deal to end a three-day government shutdown. Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) has said that he plans to do the same when the legislation comes before the House.

Leahy and Sanders were among just 18 senators, including two Republicans, who opposed a procedural measure clearing the way for a spending bill that would fund the government through February 8. Another 81 senators, including 33 Democrats, voted to proceed with debate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won over a majority of Democrats by promising to hold a vote in February on the fate of so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Their fate has been uncertain since President Donald Trump rescinded the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last September.

Democrats had previously refused to support a short-term spending bill unless it included explicit protections for Dreamers. To the consternation of their more liberal colleagues — and those considering running for president — a group of moderate and politically vulnerable Democrats worked over the weekend to forge a compromise that would reopen the government in exchange for the promise of a vote on DACA.

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