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Trump Admin Creating Policy to Allow Health Workers With Religious or Moral Objections to Discriminate

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New Rule Would Reorganize HHS Office for Civil Rights and Allow Federal Government Outreach to Groups Working to Enable Discrimination

The Trump administration is preparing new policy to enable health care workers claiming religious or moral objections to discriminate against transgender patients, or to refuse to perform or assist in performing abortion services. According to Politico the new rule could be announced in time for Friday’s March for Life, an annual anti-choice rally held in Washington, D.C., organized in part by the religious right to drive support for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Roger Severino, Trump’s highly controversial Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services, reportedly is spearheading a reorganization of the division to enforce compliance and dole out punishments to organizations that might violate the new protections. 

Not only would this new office “punish organizations that don’t allow” health care workers “to express their moral objections,” but it would “also conduct outreach and technical support to help others who are seeking to strengthen protections for these workers,” Politico reports.

In other words, a taxpayer-funded arm of the federal government might actively partner with, for example, the Family Research Council to help undermine the civil rights of transgender patients or women seeking abortion services. It could be like OSHA but instead of ensuring safe working conditions it would ensure health care workers are allowed to discriminate against transgender people and women seeking abortions. 

Just days ago the complaint portal website for the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services was updated to include greatly expanded language on Federal Conscience and Religious Freedom Laws.

Here’s a screenshot of the page on January 13:

old_a.jpg

Here’s a screenshot of the page today:

new_a.jpg

The updated page includes an entirely new category of complaint: Violation of Conscience or Religious Freedom.

Severino has a history of anti-transgender positions, notably when he was the Director of the DeVos family’s Center for Religion and Civil Society, Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation. He also served as legal counsel for the right wing Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Politico adds that Severino “has repeatedly stressed that strengthening conscience protections for health care workers is a top priority for his office.”

His appointment was condemned by LGBT civil rights groups last year.

“Severino has called the efforts of agencies such as OCR to protect transgender people from discrimination an ‘abuse of power‘ wielded ‘to coerce everyone…into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology,'” a joint statement signed by eight progressive and LGBT civil rights groups charged.

UPDATE –
The DNC is blasting the Trump administration over this move:

“Once again, women and the LGBTQ community are under attack from the Trump-Pence administration. Days before the anniversary of the Women’s March, Republicans are giving health workers a license to discriminate against women and members of the LGBTQ community,” DNC Director of Women’s Media Elizabeth Renda and Director of LGBTQ Media Lucas Acosta tell NCRM in an email statement. 

“It wasn’t enough to try to strip transgender Americans of their right to serve, roll back access to birth control, and attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Now Trump, Pence, and their Republican cronies want to allow health care workers to discriminate and rip away access to medical care. This rule is unethical and dangerously undermines public health.” 

“This proposal is further proof that Republicans continue to push forward an agenda completely out of step with the American people and American ideals. Democrats will continue to focus on how to improve access to health care for all Americans regardless of gender, orientation, or income.”

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NOT HOW THIS WORKS

Busted: White House Counsel Worked to Keep Whistleblower Report From Congress – WaPo

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President Donald Trump’s White House counsel has reportedly been personally involved in keeping Congress from reviewing a whistleblowing report involving Ukraine.

“The revelation that Trump pushed Zelensky to pursue the Biden probe, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, represents the most detailed account so far of the president’s conduct that prompted a U.S. intelligence official to file a whistleblower action against the president,” The Washington Post reported Friday. “The disclosure comes amid new details about the White House’s role in preventing Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from complying with Congressional demands for the material in the complaint.”

In addition to confirming the WSJ report, The Post also furthered the story with new reporting on the role of the White House in the scandal.

“White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has been engaged in the matter since shortly after the whistleblower action surfaced, officials said, helping to identify legal obstacles to the sharing of information that could be politically damaging to Trump,” The Post reported. “Cipollone’s involvement reveals a more direct White House role in the dispute than has previously been reported.”

Read the full report.

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IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES

Trump Urged Ukraine President ‘About Eight Times’ to Work With Giuliani to Get Dirt on Biden’s Son: WSJ

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Donald Trump “repeatedly pressured” the president of Ukraine to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to get dirt on the son of his top political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a July phone call Trump urged President Volodymyr Zelensky “about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani,” the Wall Street Journal says.

But the Journal’s reporting in the second paragraph offers details that appear to minimize what experts have been suggesting actually happened. The Journal’s report also does not name sources or even suggest if they are White House or intelligence community officials.

“Mr. Trump didn’t mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the call, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on an investigation,” the Journal says.

That would lessen the magnitude of the allegations against President Trump, although they would still be impeachable offenses.

Related: Trump to Meet With Ukrainian President Amid Bombshell Whistleblower Allegations

The Trump team has become expert at controlling the national conversation and forging a narrative that bends most elements of truth, then getting the conservative base to believe them.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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IMPEACH

Some Among Democratic Base Grow Increasingly Frustrated as Pelosi Issues Statement Chastising Trump Over Whistleblower

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Statement  Does Not  Say ‘Impeachment’

Some among the Democratic base appear frustrated with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who has not been supportive of the majority of House Democrats who want to impeach President Donald Trump. Friday afternoon the Speaker quietly issued a lengthy statement responding to the bombshell news that a whistleblower has filed a “credible” and “urgent” complaint with the intelligence community.

Pelosi’s statement, which was not posted to her social media accounts as of this writing, made its way through Twitter via a handful of reporters.

“If the President has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his Administration and our democracy,” Pelosi said, as a Politico congressional reporter pointed out:

Nearly two-thirds of House Democrats support impeaching Trump, or beginning a formal impeachment inquiry at the very least, according to Politico. But the majority of the nation does not, nor do a majority of Democratic voters, according to recent polls.

“Only 37 percent support beginning impeachment proceedings, while half oppose it,” Politco reports, citing its own polls.

Speaker Pelosi’s statement concludes with this:

“We will continue to follow the facts and explore every possible option to ensure the American people get the truth. We would hope that Republicans would join us in supporting the Constitution.”

Some online are calling her statement “weak,” while others are disappointed with the lack of specific threats of action, and others are expressing exasperation with the Speaker not supporting impeachment:

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