Fed­eral court pon­ders next steps in DeVos for-profit fraud law­suit

The Detroit News - - Trump Administration - From Detroit News wire ser­vices

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.

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