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NAACP LDF, local leaders demand city address racial bias in policing
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NAACP LDF, local leaders demand city address racial bias in policing

NAACP LDF, local leaders demand city address racial bias in policing
Photo Credit: Russell Mills
Rev. Al Sharpton was among hundreds of protesters to rally in Tulsa after Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by a Tulsa police officer.

NAACP LDF, local leaders demand city address racial bias in policing

Thursday, a letter signed by nearly fifty community leaders and activists in Tulsa was sent to the mayor and city councilors, demanding the city implement changes to police policies and procedures.

The letter cites statistics contained in the Tulsa Equality Indicators Annual Report 2018, which attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons tells KRMG quantifies the level of racial bias still existent in Tulsa.

[You can hear the full interview HERE or use the audio player below]

“Utilizing the City of Tulsa’s own internal records and documents, (the report) highlighted or showed that African-Americans are two times as likely to be arrested than white residents, and as much as five times as likely to be victims of officers’ use of force than all other groups in Tulsa,” Solomon-Simmons said Friday afternoon.

“This was a report that really solidified and backed up what so many people have already known for decades, through litigation, through reports and studies, that these type of inequalities, these type of racial discriminatory policing, exist here in Tulsa,” he added.

The coalition behind the letter, spearheaded by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, includes civil rights attorneys, religious leaders, elected officials, and even a former Chief of the Tulsa Police Department, Drew Diamond.

It demands that the mayor and city council act within 60 days to implement new policies for TPD, and seeks six specific changes (see below) designed to effect change.

“We would like to see action,” Solomon-Simmons told KRMG. “We don’t need any additional speeches or reports. We know the data, we know the statistics, we know discriminatory policing, we know how it negatively impacts individuals and communities, and we want it to stop. And the people who have the power to stop it is Mayor G.T. Bynum and the city council. We’re asking them to act.”

Asked for a response, Mayor Bynum emailed the following statement to KRMG:

“A lot of people I respect signed this letter. I appreciate the thought that went into it, and will give it the consideration it deserves. Unfortunately, based on legal guidance provided, I can not respond at this time due to the connection between so many of the signatories on the letter and litigation pending against the City of Tulsa.”

 


TEXT OF THE LETTER:

Dear Mayor Bynum and Councilor Chairman Patrick:

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the undersigned Tulsa civil right attorneys, religious leaders, elected officials, law enforcement officials, and community activists write in response to the recently released Tulsa Equality Indicators Annual Report 2018, which found that in the City of Tulsa’s (City) justice system, Black residents are arrested over twice as often as White residents, and Blacks are five times as likely to be victims of officer use of force than all other racial and ethnic groups.1 These disturbing findings are well-known to residents and City officials, as previous research, litigation, and news reports have documented racial disparities in the practices of the Tulsa Police Department (TPD) for decades.2 Indeed, in the aftermath of the police-involved shooting death of Terence Crutcher, last year, City officials formed and served as members of the Tulsa Commission on Community Policing (the Commission), which released seventy-seven (77) recommendations for improving policing practices in Tulsa.

We are dismayed, however, that there are very few recommendations that will address the City’s well-documented and long history of racially-biased policing, and none that will hold TPD officers accountable if they fail to comply with the proposed policies, trainings and data collection outlined in the Findings and Recommendations of the Tulsa Commission on Community Policing report.3 Therefore, we request that you: 1) immediately adopt the policy recommendations outlined below; and 2) within the next sixty (60) days, hold public hearings to investigate the recent findings in the Tulsa Equality Indicators report and solicit more information and recommendations from the public about TPD’s use-of-force and arrest practices.

The Tulsa Commission wisely considered recommendations from the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Members of former President Obama’s Task Force held listening sessions in cities across the country to collect information from police executives, civil rights advocates, activists and researchers about promising practices for building trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.4 The Task Force noted that in 2015, the public’s confidence in law enforcement was declining in communities of color.5 This lack of trust was due in part to highly-publicized police killings of unarmed men, women and children of color and the lack of accountability for these killings both criminally and administratively.6 The Task Force’s recommendations and action items provide a road map of steps that law enforcement agencies should take to fulfill the six pillars detailed in the report: building trust and legitimacy; policy and oversight; technology and social media; community policing and crime reduction; training and education; and officer wellness and safety.

Recognizing that for valid reasons, Black residents of the City also lack confidence in law enforcement, Tulsa Commission members appropriately adopted the pillars and several recommendations from the Task Force report. However, according to the Tulsa Commission report’s appendix,7 commissioners considered but did not approve any of the measurable actions steps that could result in greater police accountability, including in the areas of use of force and arrests. So, following the instruction of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass who stated “[p]ower concedes nothing without a demand…[i]t never did, and it never will,”8 we demand City officials immediately adopt and carry out promptly the following policies and action items:

1. Revise TPD policies and training to emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrests in TPD’s policies and training where appropriate.9 TPD’s use-of-force policy does not require officers to use de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force. The Tulsa Commission report states that the TPD should continue scenario-based training, including instruction on de-escalation, but the department does not appear to have a de-escalation policy. Additionally, while the Tulsa Commission report recommends implementing “least harm” resolutions, such as warnings and citations, in lieu of arrest for minor infractions, Commissioners did not specify what type of minor infractions are eligible for these resolutions. This information should be captured in a departmental policy.

2. Require external and independent investigations of police use-of-force incidents resulting in death or injury and in-custody deaths.10 On May 2, 2018, the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police hosted a Tulsa District Attorney debate that featured all four of the major district attorney candidates. One of the questions posed to all of the candidates was whether they believe TPD should investigate their own alleged misconduct.11 Regardless of what the eventual new district attorney decides, if the City truly values improving community trust and faith in TPD, then the City should follow the lead of the Sand Springs, Oklahoma Police Department by adopting a policy and practice of routinely referring certain incidents, such as the shooting or attempted shooting of a person by a law enforcement officer, to an independent agency for investigation. Sand Springs has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to conduct investigations of certain incidents.12

3. Create use-of-force policies that state clearly what information will be released relating to incidents.13

4. Establish a Serious Incident Review Board comprising of sworn staff and community members who will review cases involving officer-involved shootings and other serious incidents that have the potential to damage community trust or confidence in the agency.14 The Board should identify and recommend any administra-tive, supervisory, training, tactical, or policy issues that need to be addressed. According to the TPD’s use-of-force policy, a Deadly Force Review Board, comprising only TPD officers, reviews deadly force incidents referred to it by the police chief.15 TPD should diversify the composition of the Board and require it to review all serious incidents.

5. Partner with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training to contribute to its National Decertification Index that collects information about officers who have had their licenses or certifications revoked.16 This will allow law enforcement agencies to identify problem officers before they are hired. It appears that the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training has submitted the names of decertified officers to the National Decertification Index in the past.17 But, it is unclear whether TPD notifies this agency of its decertified officers. We urge TPD to do so.

6. Retain a nationally recognized police department implicit bias trainer with community input. While pleased that the City finally decided to incorporate mandatory implicit bias training for TPD officers and City executives, we were disappointed to learn that the City did not hire a national expert with a proven track record of successfully training police departments regarding implicit bias. This act has actually created more distrust because it appears the City is just engaging in a “check the box” activity, and not seriously attempting to change the racially discriminatory practices and culture of TPD. We have relationships with national experts, including researchers, who have worked with law enforcement agencies and could partner with the city’s current consultant. We are more than willing to share those names with City officials.

Finally, we demand the City Council to hold public hearings to investigate the Tulsa Equality Indicators report findings of racial disparities in TPD’s arrest and use-of-force practices within the next sixty (60) days. It is simply unacceptable to acknowledge racial inequities in City reports and do little to nothing to address them. A hearing will allow members of the public to share their views about these findings and offer recommendations for change.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss further the above policy reform recommendations in a meeting. Please feel free to contact Tulsa attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons at 918-587-3161, or Monique Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, at 202-682-1300 to schedule a mutually convenient time to meet.

Sincerely yours,

Sherrilyn A. Ifill* 

NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc.

*Admitted to the Bars of New York and Maryland

Damario Solomon-Simmons, Attorney, Of Counsel

President & Director Counsel Riggs, Abney, Neal, Orbinson, Turpen, & Lewis

Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, President Drew Diamond, Former Chief of Police

Terence Crutcher Foundation Tulsa Police Department

Councilwoman Vanessa Hall-Harper Rep. Regina Goodwin

City of Tulsa, District One Oklahoma State Representative

Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director David Blatt, Ph.D., Executive Director

Oklahoma ACUL Oklahoma Policy Institute

Sen. Kevin Matthews Rep. Monroe Nichols

Oklahoma State Senate Oklahoma State Representative

Dr. Ray Owens, Senior Pastor Rev. M.C. Potter, Senior Pastor

Metropolitan Baptist Church Antioch Baptist Church

Danny Williams, Former US Attorney Chief Egunwale Amusan

U.S. District Court, Northern District African Ancestral Society

of Oklahoma

Richard Baxter, President Monya Brown

Racism Stinks Community Activist

Thomas Boxley, Executive Director Darryl Bright, President

The Institute for Developing C.U.B.E.S., Inc.

Communities

Layla Caldwell, Pastor Mrs. Leanna Crutcher

United Coalition of Ministers Mother of Terence Crutcher

Rev. Joey Crutcher, Sr., Anthony Douglas, State President

Father of Terence Crutcher Oklahoma State NAACP

Rev. Jamaal Dyer Hailey Ferguson

Community Activist Community Activist

Nehemiah Frank Caleb Gayle

Editor-In-Chief, Black Wall Street Times Community Activist

James (Jim) Goodwin Pastor Scott Gordon

Oklahoma Eagle Newspaper Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Dr. Rodney Goss, Senior Pastor Angela Graham, Candidate

Morning Star Baptist Church Oklahoma House District 66

Tracy Love, President Nate Morris

Love & Associates Greater Tulsa Alumnus, Teach of America

David Riggs, Senior Partner Greg Robinson

Riggs, Abney, Neal, Orbinson, Turpen, Community Activist

& Lewis

Shea Seals Pastors Terry & Barbara Shannon

Tulsa Basketball Legend New Heights Christian Center

Sarah Smith-Moore Robin Steinberg, Executive Director

Aware Tulsa Still She Rises, LLC

Bruce Suttle Robin Taylor

Community Activist Community Activist

Etan Thomas, NBA Star Dr. Robert Turner, Senior Pastor

Author and Native Tulsan Vernon AME Church

Rhea Vaugh-Dobbin Pastor Weldon Tisdale, Senior Pastor

Community Activist Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

Charles Wilkes, Candidate Bill White

Tulsa City Council District 3 Community Activist

Kandy White Kristi Williams

Community Activist Community Activist

Bobby Woodard, Pharm. D Dr. Runako Whittaker

Westview Medical Clinic Westview Pediatric Care

Rev. Gerald Davis

The United League of Social Justice-Tulsa

cc: Tulsa City Councilors

  

NOTES:

1 City of Tulsa, et al, Tulsa Equality Indicators, Annual Report 2018, 24-26 (Apr. 4, 2018), https://www.tulsaei.org/blog/2018/04/tulsa-releases-first-annual-equality-indicators-report/.

2 See, Ziva Branstetter, Groups renew request for city probe of police, Tulsa World, May 5, 2001 (describing a photo two white Tulsa police officers holding a handcuffed arrestee around the neck with the words “say cheese” under the photo), http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/groups-renew-request-for-city-probe-of-police/article_10cac80e-7a06-5506-bd7b-00c825bd7e90.html; See also, Ian Ayres, Supplemental Report on Racial Disparities of the Tulsa Police Dep’t, Tr. Doc. 318, Johnson v. City of Tulsa, Civil No. 94-CV-00039-TCK-FHM (N.D. OK July 2, 2001) (finding racial disparities in arrests and use-of-force by Tulsa police officers).

3 City of Tulsa, Findings and Recommendations of the Tulsa Commission on Community Policing, Executive Summary, Mar. 10, 2017, https://www.cityoftulsa.org/media/3298/community-policing-commission-executive-summary.pdf.

4 President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, U.S. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, May 2015, https://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p311-pub.pdf. (Hereinafter President’s Task Force Report).

5 Id. at 9.

6Jeffrey Jones, In U.S., Confidence in Police Lowest in 22 Years, GALLUP, June 19, 2015, http://news.gallup.com/poll/183704/confidence-police-lowest-years.aspx.

7 See, Tulsa Commission on Community Policing, Appendix, https://www.cityoftulsa.org/media/3299/community-policing-commission-appendix.pdf.

8 On August 3, 1857, Frederick Douglass delivered a “West India Emancipation” speech at Canandaigua, New York, on the twenty-third anniversary of the event. Most of the address was a history of British efforts toward emancipation, as well as a reminder of the crucial role of the West Indian slaves in that own freedom struggle. See, http://www.blackpast.org/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress

9 President’s Task Force Report, supra note 4, at 20.

10 Id. at 21.

11 See, Dylan Goforth, Tulsa County DA debate turns to questions over last summer’s Betty Shelby trial, The Frontier, May 2, 2018, https://www.readfrontier.org/stories/tulsa-county-da-debate-turns-to-questions-over-last-summers-betty-shelby-trial/.

12 Sand Springs Police Department, Memorandum of Understanding between Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Sand Springs Police Department, Oct. 10, 2016.

13 President’s Task Force Report, supra note 4, at 22.

14 Id.

15Tulsa Police Department, Use of Force Procedure 31-101A, Aug. 28, 2014, https://www.tulsapolice.org/media/161292/public_policy_manual121217.pdf.

16 President’s Task Force Report, supra note 4, at 29.

17 Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, Meeting Agenda, 3, Jan. 29, 2014 (stating “names of individuals whose certification has been suspended or voluntarily surrendered since the last meeting…will be entered into the National Decertification Database), https://www.ok.gov/cleet/documents/CouncilAgenda_29Jan2014.pdf.

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Several weeks later, as the Senate vote on the 19th amendment approached in early June, the debate became more testy - more focused on race - and the right of states to determine who can vote. 'When it says that there shall be no restriction of the suffrage on account of sex, it means the female sex, and means the millions upon millions of Negro women in the South,' said Sen. Ellison Smith, a Democrat from South Carolina. The argument from southern Senators was simple - the states should decide who votes, not the federal government.  It was a preview of the battles to come during the Civil Rights era. 'Mr. President, it is not a question today as to whether the women of American should have the right to vote,' said Sen. Oscar Underwood, a Democrat from Alabama.  “It is a question of whether, in the end, our Government shall live.” Supporters of the amendment openly acknowledged that black women in the South probably would not be allowed to vote by southern states - precisely in the same way that hurdles had been placed in the way of black Americans voting in the states of the former Confederacy - a charge that left southern Senators like Smith aggravated. 'I have heard it flippantly remarked by those who propose to vote for this amendment, 'You found a way to keep the Negro man from voting and you will find away to keep the unworthy Negro woman from voting,' Smith said on the Senate floor, as he denounced how the South had been 'deluged by an alien and unfit race.' “You went specifically after the Negro men in the fifteenth amendment,” Smith said in Senate debate.  “Now you go specifically after the Negro and white women in this amendment.” On the floor, Smith and other opponents of the amendment pushed back hard on the race question, as Senators sparred over old wounds and scars left by the Fifteenth Amendment and Reconstruction. 'Those of us from the South, where the preponderance of the Negro vote jeopardized our civilization, have maintained that the fifteenth amendment was a crime against our civilization,' Smith said. 'The Senator knows full well that the fifteenth amendment embodied the color question,' said Sen. Irvine Lenroot, a Republican from Wisconsin, 'the Senator knows just as well that there is no color question at all embodied in this amendment. It relates only to sex.' 'The discussion here upon the floor yesterday makes it perfectly apparent that in part at least, in a certain section of this country, this proposed amendment will be a dead letter,' acknowledged Sen. James Wadsworth, a Republican from New York. Wadsworth and others were proven correct, as it took many years for black Americans to get around the poll tax and other means of stopping them from voting. “Oh, the white man votes because you are careful to apply tests which do not apply to the white man,' Senator William Borah, a Republican of Idaho, said to Senators from the South. 'You pick out those tests which exclude the Negro and write them into your law, and that excludes the Negro.' In an exchange with Senator John Williams, a Mississippi Democrat, Borah said, “the Negro does not vote (in the South) because he is black. That is the only crime which he has committed.” Just before the final vote in the Senate, Democrat Edward Gay of Louisiana rose on the Senate floor, making one last call to allow the states to have the final say on whether women should vote. 'I predict that there are 13 States that will never ratify the amendment which the Congress of the United State is about to present to the American people,' Gay said. Gay was wrong, as the amendment was ratified 14 months later in August of 1920. But it took years for many southern states to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution: + Virginia - February 21, 1952 + Alabama - September 8, 1953 + Florida - May 13, 1969 + South Carolina - July 1, 1969 + Georgia - February 20, 1970 + Louisiana - June 11, 1970 + North Carolina - May 6, 1971 + Mississippi - March 22, 1984
  • Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.   “I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.   The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House. “If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure. One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday. Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.   Democrats were furious. “House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement. “This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas. “We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor. “I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).  “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.” “Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).   Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3. “There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said.  “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”  The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday.  Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.
  • Ending months of wrangling over billions of dollars in aid for victims of hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, Congress struck a deal Thursday with President Donald Trump on a $19.1 billion aid package, which includes extra relief money for Puerto Rico, but not several billion for border security efforts sought by the President. 'We have been working on this package for several months, and I am pleased to say that help is finally on the way,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), as the Senate voted 85-8 to approve the plan, and send it back to the House for final action. The plan includes $600 million in food aid for Puerto Rico, along with an additional $304 million in housing assistance for the island, as President Trump backed off his opposition to extra aid for the island. 'Puerto Rico has to be treated fairly - and they are,' Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters. The compromise plan also includes over $3 billion to repair military bases in Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska which were damaged by disasters, and over $3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair damaged waterways infrastructure. The details of the final agreement were just slightly different from a disaster aid package approved earlier in May by the House - that $19.1 billion plan was opposed by President Trump and a majority of GOP lawmakers. 'Now, let's get this bill to the President's desk ASAP,' said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), whose home state has been hit hard by flooding. Ironically, the vote took place in the Senate as a severe storm rolled through the city, setting off alarms inside the Capitol, as police told tourists, reporters, and staffers to shelter in place. After the vote, Republicans praised the agreement, and the work of the President.  “For Florida, this is a big day,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), as the bill included $1.2 billion to help rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, which was leveled last year by Hurricane Michael. “I just want to tell you how grateful I am to the President,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), as Republicans repeatedly said Mr. Trump had 'broken the logjam' on the disaster bill. Democrats saw it much differently, as they argued if the President had stayed out of the negotiations, the disaster aid would have been agreed to long ago. “He's an erratic, helter-skelter, get nothing done President,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.   “If he stays out of it and lets us work together, we might get some things done.” The eight Senators who voted against the bill were all Republicans - Blackburn (TN), Braun (IN), Crapo (ID), Lee (UT), McSally (AZ), Paul (KY), Risch (ID), and Romney (UT). The bill would also extend the life of the National Flood Insurance Program, giving lawmakers several more months to consider reforms to the program, which has run up close to $40 billion in losses in the last 15 years. The bill also has specific language to force the Trump Administration to release $16 billion in already approved funding for disasters, but which has been withheld by the White House for months - it includes $4 billion for Texas, and over $8 billion for Puerto Rico. The compromise bill still needs a final vote in the House - that could take place either on Friday, or might have to wait until early June when lawmakers return from a Memorial Day break, as the House had already left town when the disaster deal was struck.
  • In the midst of an escalating trade fight with China which has caused financial pain for many American farmers, the Trump Administration announced on Thursday that $16 billion in trade relief payments would be given to farm producers starting this summer, to help farmers deal with economic impacts of foreign retaliation for U.S. tariffs. 'The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,' said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The $16 billion would be in addition to $12 billion in trade relief offered last year by the President to U.S. farmers, who have endured lost markets, lower commodity prices, and financial losses as a result of China and other countries retaliating against tariffs authorized by President Trump. Perdue said it would be better to have a trade agreement with China to remove the need for these trade payments, but such an agreement does not seem to be on the horizon. 'We would love for China to come to the table at any time,' Perdue said, adding that President Trump will meet with the Chinese Premier in June. 'It's really in China's court,' Perdue added. The funding for the latest farm bailout would come through the Commodity Credit Corporation, but Perdue and other USDA officials said the increase in revenues from tariffs would offset the cost. 'The President feels very strongly that the tariff revenue is going to be used to support his program, which will come back out and replenish the CCC,' Secretary Perdue said. Those tariff duties are not paid by China - but rather by companies in the United States importing items from the Chinese, as those businesses can either eat the extra import costs, or pass them on to American consumers. Democrats in Congress have grabbed on to the issue of rising costs for consumers in criticizing the President's trade policies - even though many Democrats do support the idea of being much more tough on Beijing over trade matters. Caught in the middle are farmers, who have been more readily - and publicly - voicing their concerns in recent months with the President's trade policies. 'The Farm Bureau believes in fair trade,' said American Farm Bureau Federal chief Zippy Duval. 'Eliminating more tariffs and other trade barriers is critical to achieving that goal.”  A recent poll by the Indiana Farm Bureau found 72 percent of farmers surveyed in that state felt a 'negative impact on commodity prices' because of the current trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Farm County is also mainly Republican - and the continuing pressure on farmers has filtered through in recent polling. The collateral damage for U.S. farmers could increase even more in coming months if there's no deal between the U.S. and China. President Trump has already threatened to raise tariffs on an additional $325 billion in imports from China, which could draw even more trade retaliation from Beijing - with U.S. agriculture being the most obvious target.
  • For the second time in three days, a federal judge rejected arguments by lawyers for President Donald Trump, refusing to block subpoenas issued by a U.S. House committee for financial records held by U.S. banks which did business with the President's companies. 'I think the courts are saying that we are going to uphold the rule of law,' said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has subpoenaed information from the Mazars USA accounting firm. Wednesday's ruling from federal Judge Edgardo Ramos, put on the bench by President Barack Obama, related to subpoenas by two other House panels to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, for records related to Mr. Trump's businesses. Lawyers for the President, the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump's family had asked that the subpoenas be quashed - the judge made clear that wasn't happening, and also rejected a request to stay his ruling to allow for an appeal. As in investigative matters involving the President's tax returns, and other subpoenas from Democrats, Mr. Trump's legal team argued that there is a limit on the investigative power of the Congress. 'Congress must, among other things, have a legitimate legislative purpose, not exercise law-enforcement authority, not excess the relevant committee's jurisdiction, and not make overbroad or impertinent requests,' the President's lawyers wrote in a brief filed last week. But as with a case in federal court in Washington earlier this week, that argument failed to sway Judge Ramos, who said Deutsche Bank can turn over in the information sought by the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. In the halls of Congress, Democrats said the legal victories were clear evidence that the resistance of the White House to Congressional investigation could only succeed for so long. 'The White House has attempted to block Congressional oversight, but the law is on our side,' said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT). And Democrats also were pleased by the quick action of both judges this week, amid worries that multiple legal challenges by the President could cause lengthy delays. 'We should not be slowed down in our work simply by a clock that goes through judicial processes,' said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). The legal setback for President Trump came several hours after he cut short a White House meeting with top Democrats on infrastructure, saying he would not work with them on major legislation until the House stopped a variety of investigations. 'Get these phony investigations over with,' the President told reporters in the Rose Garden. Mr. Trump seemed especially aggravated by statements earlier on Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused the President of resisting subpoenas and other document requests for a reason. 'And we believe the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up, in a cover-up,' Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.