Federal court ponders next steps in DeVos for-profit fraud lawsuit
The Trump administration on Friday asked the court for another chance to delay an Obama-era policy meant to boost protections for students defrauded by for-profit schools.
The request comes two days after the court ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ move to freeze the regulation known as borrower defense was “arbitrary and capricious.” That decision dealt a severe blow to her efforts to ease regulations on the for-profit college industry.
Attorney Adam Pulver with Public Citizen, an advocacy group, said defrauded students are facing “continuing everyday harm” and asked the court that the delayed regulation be enforced immediately.
But lawyers for the Department of Education asked Judge Randolph Moss to give the agency a chance to correct the mistakes the court identified in how the delay was put in place. It also asked that in case the court does rule that the Obama regulation must take effect, that it grant the department 60 days to prepare.
Judge Moss did not say when he would issue a ruling.
The Obama administration went hard after the for-profit sector, tightening regulations and spending over $550 million to forgive the loans of defrauded students. DeVos said that system was unfair to taxpayers and set out to rewrite those rules.
Trump is popular target at California climate summit
President Trump was a popular target Friday at California Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change summit in San Francisco.
Two prominent Democrats and a Republican mayor criticized Trump for his decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord.
“While Donald Trump may have pulled out of the climate agreement, the American people have not,” former Secretary of State John Kerry said opening the second day of the Global Climate Action Summit.
Trump announced in June 2017 the United States’ intention to pull out of the international agreement, which Kerry signed while serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. The 195 countries that signed the treaty agreed to commit resources to combatting climate change.
Former Vice President Al Gore followed Kerry to the stage and got a rousing ovation when he said a new president can rejoin the Paris Agreement.
James Brainard, Republican mayor of Carmel, Indiana, listed a number of Republican presidents and their environmental accomplishments, including President Nixon’s creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. He said he was disappointed Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement.
“The president likes to talk about what a great country we are,” Brainard said. “Great countries honor their international agreements. Great countries show leadership to the rest of the world on critical issues. Great countries listen to their scientists and great countries strive to leave the world better than they found it.”
Lawsuit aims to block Trump ‘short-term’ health plans
Advocates for people with mental illness and HIV are joining other consumer groups in a lawsuit to block one of the Trump administration’s main approaches for making low-cost health insurance more widely available.
The case filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., takes aim at so-called short-term plans that don’t have to cover people’s pre-existing medical conditions, or provide standard benefits like prescription drugs. The administration recently adopted regulations to encourage the spread of such plans, featuring premiums about one-third the cost of comprehensive insurance.
Among their arguments, the groups say that those regulations violate the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
The administration says short-term plans may not be right for everyone, but they could be an important option for some consumers who can’t afford “Obamacare.”
Trump, Pompeo bash ex-Secretary of State Kerry
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unloaded Friday on his Obama-era predecessor John Kerry for “actively undermining” U.S. policy on Iran by meeting several times recently with the Iranian foreign minister, who was his main interlocutor in the Iran nuclear deal negotiations.
In unusually blunt and caustic language, Pompeo said Kerry’s meetings with Mohammad Javad Zarif were “unseemly and unprecedented” and “beyond inappropriate.” President Trump had late Thursday accused Kerry of holding “illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people.”
Pompeo said he would leave “legal determinations to others” but slammed Kerry as a former secretary of state for engaging with “the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror” and telling Iran to “wait out this administration.”
Kerry, who is promoting his new book “Every Day is Extra,” had no immediate response Friday to Trump’s latest Twitter broadside. In the past, he’s been harshly critical of the president and his decision in May to withdraw from the Iran deal. Manafort the cost of a weekslong trial that could have added years to the prison time he’s already facing following the Virginia guilty verdicts. A jury there found him guilty of tax evasion, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.
Prosecutors on Friday presented new information about allegations they were prepared to present at trial, which was to have focused on Manafort’s political consulting and lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.
That case alleged that Manafort directed a large-scale U.S. lobbying operation for Ukrainian interests but never registered as a foreign agent despite being required to do so under the law, and that he concealed millions of dollars in income from the IRS.
He also failed to disclose his involvement in lobbying efforts made through a group of former European politicians, known as the Hapsburg Group, who pushed policies beneficial to Ukraine, the allegations said.
In 2013, one of the politicians and his country’s prime minister met with then-President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. Manafort was later sent an email that the politicians had “delivered the message of not letting ‘Russians Steal Ukraine from the West.’ ”
Another allegation revealed Friday concerns Manafort’s efforts to peddle stories to discredit Yanukovych’s opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko.
Prosecutors said he spread stories and coordinated with an Israeli government official to publicize the idea that a U.S. Cabinet official was an anti-Semite for supporting Tymoshenko, who had formed an alliance with a Ukrainian political party that had shared anti-Semitic views.
“I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom,” Manafort wrote to a colleague, court documents said.