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Facing grassroots pressure to increase resistance to Trump, Democrats blocked three of Trump’s cabinet picks

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JAISAL NOOR: Pushed by grassroots activists across the country, congressional Democrats are heating up their opposition to Trump’s cabinet picks. Blocking a vote on two of Trump’s cabinet nominees and delaying another. The day after Trump fired the acting Attorney General, for not complying with his ban on Muslim refugees, and migrants. Billionaire education privatizer, Betsy DeVos, was approved by a Senate panel. On party lines, by a 12 to 11 vote, and heads to the full senate for confirmation vote. But massive popular opposition has pushed at least two Republican senators to say they have reservations about her, and may vote against her. One more Republican is needed to block the confirmation, if all Democrats vote against DeVos, as expected. For our interview with the Chicago Public School teacher, who says, “DeVos is a truly frightening Education Secretary nominee.” Go to, or click the link below. Democrats were able to postpone a vote over Jeff Sessions, to be confirmed, as Attorney General until Wednesday. Dealing a blow to the man, many consider the most anti-immigrant Senator in Congress. Democrats connected him with Trump’s ban on Muslims. But perhaps the biggest news came when U.S. Senate democrats boycotted a planned committee vote, on two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. Steve Mnuchin, as Treasury Secretary, and Tom Price, who’s picked to head the Health and Human Services Department. At least one Democrat must be present for the committee votes to take place. In Mnuchin’s case, the Columbus Dispatch cited documents showing that One West, used automated robo signings. A method for approving mortgage documents, that was criticized for not fully considering them, after the former Goldman Sachs executive, and One West Chairman, flatly denied those practices to Senators. Senator Ron Wyden said Democrats also wanted more information about a Wall Street Journal article, that said Price received a privileged offer to buy a bio-medical stock, at a discount, contrary to his congressional testimony this month. Price had testified the discounted shares he bought were available to other investors at the time. But the Journal said, in fact, he was one of the fewer than 20 U.S. investors, who were invited last year to buy the discounted shares. On Monday, acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by Trump, after refusing to defend his immigration ban in court. Her likely replacement, Senator Jeff Sessions, questioned Yates about disobeying illegal orders at Yates confirmation hearing in 2015. JEFF SESSIONS: …I think the Attorney General has a responsibility to say, “No”, to the President, if he asks for something that’s improper. A lot of people have defended the Lynch nomination, for example, by saying, “Well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?” But if the views of the President wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General, or the Deputy Attorney General say no? SALLY YATES: Senator, I believe that the Attorney General, or the Deputy Attorney General, has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the President. JAISAL NOOR: Republicans have said if Yates couldn’t follow the order, she should have resigned. But Sue Udry, the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense, defending dissent foundation disagrees. SUE UDRY: Sally Yates was doing exactly what she is charged to do by the constitution. She was standing up to the President who was issuing an illegal order. And you heard Senator Sessions, during her confirmation hearing, demanding that she promised to do. He wanted to make sure that she was going to act independently of the President, should he order something that she deemed to be illegal or unconstitutional. JAISAL NOOR: She says the Obama administration has put in place dangerous precedents that Trump has inherited. SUE UDRY: I think nobody can argue that Obama didn’t set us up this exact situation that we’re facing right now. But Intercept has just released, some FBI documents, revealing the absolute lack of — pretty much any restrictions on their authority — to investigate minorities, and dissidents, and journalists. And so, the journalists who were arrested on inauguration day, that was done by the DC Police. And I’m not sure what influence the Trump administration may, or may not have had over that. And we also need to recognize that there were non-journalists arrested, for whom the police really seemed not to have any individualized suspicion, that they were engaged in any criminal activity. So, the over 200 people who were arrested, as a whole, that raises concerns. Because generally, the D.C. Police, have been fairly respectful of protestor rights, and the ability for people to engage in first amendment protected conduct, in the streets of D.C. So, that’s a concern, of course. But also, what also what we’re looking at right now, is these enormous powers that the FBI has to infiltrate and monitor, and harass dissidents and minority groups. Which they were doing under President Bush, under President Obama, and those two presidents were clearly less afraid of dissent than Donald Trump is. So yeah, we’re tremendously worried and organizing, to prevent the FBI from becoming an absolute tool of President Trump to crush dissent. JAISAL NOOR: Stay tuned to for coverage of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, expected to be announced, Tuesday evening. This is Jaisal Noor. ————————- END

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