Trump Says He Will Probably Support Marijuana Legalization Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE)

 

Trump Defies Sessions by Saying He Will ‘Probably’ Support Marijuana Bill

The president appears to be joining a group of lawmakers pushing back on the attorney general’s marijuana policy

Could Trump really support a bill that would end federal marijuana prohibition? Evan Vucci/AP/REX Shutterstock

Before heading on a trip abroad that will take him to the G-7 summit in Canada on Friday, and then to Singapore to meet with Kim Jong-un early next Tuesday, President Trump hinted that he is likely to support a bill introduced Thursday that would protect state marijuana laws from federal interference. “I really do,” Trump said when asked outside the White House on Friday whether supports the bill, which was co-authored by Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado. “I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting it, yes.”

Though over half of all states have passed some form of legislation legalizing marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law, which classifies it as a Schedule I narcotic along with heroin, LSD and other drugs the government deem to have “no currently accepted medical use.” Marijuana business is growing rapidly in states where it is legal, but federal restrictions have led to a number of complications. Most banks, for instance, refuse to have relationships with marijuana-related companies, for fear prosecution from federal law enforcement.

“There are federal laws about not being able to put your money into banks if the money comes from illegal activities,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, who co-authored the bill with Gardner, explained Thursday morning on MSNBC. “So long as the sale of marijuana is illegal at the federal level, that means that marijuana stores that are perfectly legal in Colorado or Massachusetts or other states have to do an all-cash business. It’s dangerous and it’s dumb.”

The STATES – or Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States – Act would remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances in states where it is legal, and allow financial institutions to deal with marijuana businesses as long as those business are legal under state law. The Tenth Amendment reserves that states are in control of all “powers” not outlined in the Constitution. “Our founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory, but its created significant conflict between state law [and] federal law,” Gardner said alongside Warren as they introduced the bill on Thursday.

Though the bill would largely strip away federal influence from how states are able to enforce their marijuana laws, there are a few caveats. The bill holds that employees of marijuana businesses must be 18 years or older, and that recreational marijuana may only be sold to people 21 and over. It also stipulates that dispensaries may not be set up at rest stops along interstate highways.

Though the president has in the past voiced a desire to leave marijuana legalization up to the states, many have wondered if this latest expression of support may be a result of his intensifying feud with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who is a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization and has used his position as the government’s chief legal authority to crack down on convictions related to the drug. In January, Sessions put an end to an Obama administration policy that limited the degree to which federal authorities could enforce marijuana law in states where the drug was legal. Gardner, whose home state of Colorado has legalized recreational use of marijuana, criticized the move immediately.

Cory Gardner

@SenCoryGardner

This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.

Cory Gardner

@SenCoryGardner

I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.

Gardner isn’t the only lawmaker pushing back against Sessions’s draconian stance on the drug, and those supporting reform have stressed the bipartisan nature of their efforts. In April, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Kamala Harris wrote a letter to the attorney general asking him to cease blocking research in to marijuana’s medicinal properties. As Gardner and Warren introduced the STATES bill on Friday, Representatives Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, introduced a companion bill in the House. At a news conference Thursday, Warren said, “lining them up like Noah’s Ark as they come on two-by-two,” in reference to her and Gardner’s desire to match each of the bill’s co-sponsors with one from the other party.

Despite the attorney general’s vigilant opposition to any form of legalized pot Gardner has said he’s received multiple assurances from President Trump that he would support a bill giving power back to the states, and the president’s comments Friday morning reinforce the belief that he will ultimately endorse the bill. Trump has in recent months made good on several controversial campaign promises, including removing American from the Iran deal and relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Marijuana reform could soon be added to the list.

“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump told the Washington Post while campaigning back in 2015. “Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen – right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

6 Comey Testimony Revelations That Should Concern Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE)

6 Comey Testimony Revelations That Should Concern Trump

In his Senate committee hearing Thursday, the former FBI director said he believes the president to be a liar, among other things

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Fired FBI director James Comey appeared Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivering an unvarnished account of President Trump’s efforts to influence the FBI investigation into disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

That wasn’t all Comey discussed in his testimony, though. He suggested that the FBI was investigating whether the president himself was being investigated for colluding with the Russian government to influence the election, whether Jeff Sessions was involved and whether there was any validity to the infamous dossier.

Contrary to Trump allies’ insistence that this was all a big, fat#NothingBurger, there were in fact several revelations that should concern the president, his attorney general and members of his campaign.

Trump is almost certainly under investigation for obstruction of justice.
Comey told the Senate committee on Thursday that Trump insisted on a closed-door meeting in which he repeatedly shared with the then-FBI director his “hope” that Comey could let go of the criminal investigation into Flynn. He said he immediately thought the president’s words were of “investigative interest.”

Comey demurred when asked directly if he believed the conversation constituted obstruction of justice in a legal sense. “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said. But he added that he was confident the recently appointed special counsel, Robert Mueller, would be looking into the question. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning. But that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work toward, to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that’s an offense,” Comey said.

It sure sounds like Trump is also being investigated for collusion.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton got to ask the question everyone wants answered: “Do you believe Donald Trump colluded with Russia?”

“That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting,” Comey replied. “When I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump. But that’s a question that will be answered by the investigation, I think.”

The FBI was aware of incriminating evidence against Sessions, too.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden noted that in the written remarks Comey provided to the committee Wednesday, the former FBI head said he had good reason to believe Attorney General Jeff Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia probe several weeks before Sessions actually did so. “What was it about the attorney general’s own interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?” Wyden wanted to know.

“Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey answered. “We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic. And so we were convinced and, in fact, I think we had already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. That turned out to be the case.”

The bureau was investigating the Steele dossier.
The FBI is or was attempting to confirm explosive allegations contained in an unverified dossier, authored during the campaign by a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele on behalf of Trump’s rivals. In addition to the eye-popping claim that the Russian government was blackmailing Trump with an explicit videotape, the document included allegations that Trump campaign officials met with emissaries of the Russian government to hammer out an agreement: that Russia would provide damaging emails it hacked from the DNC and the Clinton campaign to WikiLeaks in exchange for assurances from Trump that he would not discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during the campaign.

Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked Comey point-blank if he could confirm any criminal allegations described in the Steele dossier. Comey answered by confirming, as he intimated in his opening statement, that the FBI was investigating the document. “Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation,” he said.

Comey arranged to have his personal memos leaked to the press.
Comey freely admitted that he provided his memos – which he said he considered personal memorializations, not government documents – to the media via an intermediary in the hopes that the revelation that Trump tried to strong-arm him into dropping the Flynn investigation would trigger the appointment of a special counsel. The decision to provide the documents to the media, he said, was motivated by Trump’s tweet that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said on Thursday, inviting the president to release them if they exist.

Comey believed Trump would lie about their interactions.
Perhaps the least surprising revelation to emerge from the three-hour hearing was that the former FBI director believes Trump to be a liar who would not hesitate to lie to the public about Comey. Questioned about why he took notes on the nine one-on-one conversations he had with President Trump, the former FBI director was blunt: “I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”

That fear, Comey said, “led me to believe I’ve got to write it down. … I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what would happen, not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function.”

James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Watch here.