Republicans Seek Biden’s Impeachment
Amid Allegations of Influence-Peddling
Constitutional law experts advised a congressional committee Thursday to be careful about overstepping its authority as lawmakers consider impeaching President Joe Biden.
Republicans accuse him of using his political leadership to enrich himself and his family through influence-peddling with foreign enterprises.
If true, the accusations would create an illegal conflict of interest for the president.
Investigators have “uncovered a mountain of evidence” against the president, said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
Although the president’s son, Hunter Biden, led “hIs family’s corrupt business dealings,” witnesses, bank records and emails show his father appears to have participated, Comer said.
Federal Judges Suspend 96-Year-Old Colleague
Who They Say Shows Mental Decline
Judges from the Federal Circuit Court in Washington, D.C., last week suspended a 96-year-old fellow judge for one year after she refused to submit to a mental competency test.
They accused Judge Pauline Newman of misconduct for not cooperating in their investigation.
The other judges are trying to force her to retire after her colleagues complained her age is diminishing her ability to perform her job properly. Newman says the accusations are ill-founded and ageist.
They also violate her rights as a federal judge appointed by the president for life, according to her attorney.
The dispute again raises the issue of how much is too much in lifetime appointments of federal judges. Some members of Congress have proposed term or age limits but so far have run up against the need to change the U.S. Constitution before they could force judges out sooner.
A day before Newman’s suspension was announced, two congressmen introduced a bill that would set term limits of 18 years for Supreme Court justices.
Term limits are “necessary because lifetime tenure on the United States Supreme Court leads to a Court that is insulated from, and unaccountable to, the American people, which is bad for democracy,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit presides over more specialized cases than the Supreme Court, such as patents, trademarks, government contracts and veterans’ benefits.
It was established in 1982, only two years before President Ronald Reagan appointed Newman to the court. It grants its judges the same lifetime tenure as the Supreme Court.
Financial Experts Advise Lawmakers
On Future for Artificial Intelligence
U.S. senators last week let the financial industry know more laws are coming soon to regulate their growing use of artificial intelligence.
However, they acknowledged they do not have all the answers on how to do it.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., summed up the balancing act Congress wants to perform by asking financial industry experts, “How do we not screw it up?”
“We stand in the middle of a journey of monumental change,” Rounds said during a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Some innovations created through the machine learning of artificial intelligence (AI) are not regulated, creating loopholes in the laws that could deeply hurt banks, the stock market and the nation’s economy, according to experts who testified at the hearing.
So far, financial industry executives have discussed hopes for bigger profits with AI but largely ignored how it could help fraudsters build on the $50 billion a year banks estimate they lose to computer-based scams.
AI innovations of recent years have allowed banks to tailor promotions to personalized interests of customers, reduce the manpower needed to comply with regulations, more closely analyze credit risks of borrowers and restock the cash in ATMs.
In recent quarterly reports, the financial institutions – along with other corporations – predicted greater efficiency, lower costs and bigger profits using AI.
Lawmakers at the Senate hearing cautioned against a rush by bankers toward AI-inspired profits that could force them to make remedial repairs if they do not prepare for the risks.
In one example mentioned at the hearing, banks sometimes use voice recognition technology to identify their customers for phone transactions. Recent AI language generators can create voices that mimic other persons, potentially allowing fraudsters to mimic bank customers while stealing their money.
Experts who testified at the hearing cautioned against the heavy hand of government regulation that could stifle innovation, perhaps leaving the United States behind China.
D.C. in Brief
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Justice Kagan Calls for New Code of Conduct
After Ethics Issues Raised at Supreme Court
Justice Elena Kagan is calling for a “code of conduct” for the Supreme Court in a departure from the position held by most of her colleagues.
She announced her support for the code of conduct in a speech at Notre Dame Law School last week on the same day a media organization published more revelations of alleged conflicts of interest for Justice Clarence Thomas.
Kagan did not mention Thomas or any other member of the Supreme Court, only that a code of conduct would "go far in persuading other people that we were adhering to the highest standards of conduct."
ProPublica and other media outlets reported that wealthy businessmen gave Thomas luxury vacations and private plane rides, as well as enlisted his help to raise money for conservative causes. The donors behind the gifts and fundraising efforts either have had – or could have – business before the Supreme Court, according to the media reports.
The allegations against Thomas, as well as Justice Samuel Alito, prompted Democrats in the Senate to introduce the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act earlier this year.
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Letters to the Editor
Congressmen Advise Staff Members
On Protecting Selves from D.C. Crime
Washington, D.C.’s frustration with rising crime was taken up in Congress last week when federal officials held a briefing to warn staff members about their personal safety.
The crime that already has claimed victims among Capitol Hill staffers also is driving arguments between Congress and city officials about how to handle it.
In February, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., suffered minor injuries when a man assaulted her in the elevator of her apartment building.
More serious injuries were suffered by an aide to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., just over a month later as he walked along a downtown sidewalk. He was stabbed multiple times, causing what police said were “life-threatening injuries.”
The attacks were mentioned by Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wisc., in the U.S. Capitol’s Longworth Building during the briefing on “best practices, safety tips, and precautions." Other presentations were given by representatives from the House sergeant at arms, Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Union.