Hawaii launches first legal challenge to revised travel ban

State files request to revise a lawsuit filed against the original travel ban, arguing new version remains incompatible with freedom of religion protections

Donald Trump’s newly revised travel ban faced its first legal challenge late Tuesday evening as the state of Hawaii filed a request in federal court to revise a lawsuit previously lodged against the president’s first failed ban.

Trump’s new executive order, signed on Monday, bars new visas for people from six Muslim majority countries and replaces an initial order issued on 27 January, which was chaotically rolled out and subsequently halted by a federal court following a barrage of legal challenges from states and advocate groups across the country.

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Is Trump Adviser Carl Icahn an Illicit Lobbyist or a Corrupt Official?

Watchdog group Public Citizen asked Congress on Wednesday to investigate whether billionaire investor and unofficial Trump administration adviser Carl Icahn has engaged in illegal, unregistered lobbying in conjunction with his public bid to change an ethanol rule that would save one of his affiliated businesses $200 million annually.

Icahn raised eyebrows last week for getting the Renewable Fuels Association to reverse its position on a key proposal that would benefit him personally. The association, lobbies for ethanol producers, agreed to a proposal to shift the responsibility for ensuring that gasoline contains a minimum volume of renewable fuels — from oil refiners to gasoline wholesalers. Icahn is the majority shareholder in CVR Energy, a refiner that cannot blend ethanol on its own, and which therefore must buy over $200 million in “renewable fuel credits” each year to follow the law. By shifting the responsibility to wholesalers, CVR would no longer have to make that purchase.

Trump tapped Icahn as his deregulatory czar in December. But as an unofficial advisor to the Trump administration, Icahn was able to maintain his prodigious financial holdings. The renewable fuels proposal struck many as an example of Icahn self-dealing — recommending changes in regulation that benefit him financially.

Now, Public Citizen is accusing Icahn and CVR of violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. Any non-governmental entity that crosses certain thresholds must register all lobbying activities with the government. Congress oversees compliance with this law.

Since the Trump administration insists that Icahn is a private citizen who receives no compensation as a government official, he would fall into the category of needing to register any lobbying work, according to a complaint sent to the clerk of the House and secretary of the Senate. Public Citizen argues that Icahn’s formal proposal to change the renewable fuel standard regulation, along with his reported assistane in vetting candidates for the Environmental Protection Agency, comprises lobbying activity.

“It is not lobbying to advise a candidate, but once Trump became president, Trump then became a covered official subject to the lobbying disclosure law,” energy program director Tyson Slocum wrote in the letter. “All of this has occurred with no record of any (Lobbying Disclosure Act) filings by or on behalf of Mr. Icahn, Icahn Enterprises or CVR Energy.”

In other words, either Icahn is a Trump administration official, and therefore profiting from his government service, or a private citizen, and therefore lobbying.

Failure to comply with the Lobbying Disclosure Act “may be subject to a civil fine of not more than $200,000,” according to the law’s text. And if an individual “knowingly and corruptly” fails to comply, they face a federal prison sentence of up to five years.

Icahn rebutted charges of conflict of interest in an interview with Bloomberg, saying, “I own a refinery. Who knows it better than me? Why shouldn’t I advocate?”

Icahn, in red scarf, in the VIP seats behind Donald Trump at his presidential inauguration.

The post Is Trump Adviser Carl Icahn an Illicit Lobbyist or a Corrupt Official? appeared first on The Intercept.

How Republican opposition to healthcare reform is taking shape

The House Freedom Caucus, Senate conservatives, and Planned Parenthood supporters are among those posing a threat to the American Health Care Act

Among his many broad-brush election year promises to voters, Donald Trump built his victory on a commitment to repeal and replace what he constantly described as the “disaster” of Obamacare.

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Alternative history: the dangerous byproduct of fake facts | Jill Abramson

From Ben Carson claiming slaves came over as ‘immigrants’ to Betsy DeVos ignoring Jim Crow – history is a new frontline in the battle for truth

Fake news has morphed into something far more egregious, fake history. Donald Trump routinely lies about himself, his accomplishments, his businesses and his opponents. This is how he wins the political upper hand and dominates the news cycle. The lying is no longer surprising.

It’s his willful ignorance of history, mirrored by members of his cabinet, that is astounding and, in some ways, even more demoralizing.

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