Today in OpenGov: I’m not a lawyer, but…


In today's edition, Donald Trump Jr. cites attorney-client privilege, more than half the Senate supports e-filing their campaign finance reports, France asks for feedback on open source software use by government, and more. 


Donald Trump Jr. Image credit: Gage Skidmore.
  • Donald Trump Jr. refuses to answer House Intelligence Committee questions, citing attorney client privilege. "Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday cited attorney-client privilege to avoid telling lawmakers about a conversation he had with his father, President Donald Trump, after news broke this summer that the younger Trump — and top campaign brass — had met with Russia-connected individuals in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. Though neither Trump Jr. nor the president is an attorney, Trump Jr. told the House Intelligence Committee that there was a lawyer in the room during the discussion.." (POLITICO)
  • Congressional investigations probe 2016 European travel by Trump team for Russian links. "Congressional investigators are scrutinizing trips to Europe taken last year by several associates of President Donald Trump, amid concern they may have met with Kremlin-linked operatives as part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election." (POLITICO
  • Mueller Deutsche Bank subpoenas target Trump associates, but not Trump family. "Deutsche Bank AG provided records to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation after receiving a subpoena several weeks ago, according to a person briefed on the matter. Those records pertain to people affiliated with President Donald Trump, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the action hasn’t been announced. Several news outlets — including Bloomberg — reported yesterday that the subpoena targeted Trump and his family’s bank records, which was disputed by Trump’s personal lawyer and the White House." (Bloomberg)
  • Bipartisan group of legislators want more transparency around State Department reorganization. "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s ongoing but still vague redesign plan for the State Department drew fire this week from two groups of senators led by Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md." (Government Executive)
  • Decision to move U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem likely to please mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The New York Times explains in this short video.

washington watch

  • More than half of the U.S. Senate supports e-filing campaign finance reports. (Issue One)
  • Congressional Reformers Caucus brings parties together to focus on ethics and political reform. "Today, 19 bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives launched the Congressional Reformers Caucus, the first organization of its kind on Capitol Hill to focus exclusively on discussing political reform ideas and legislation. Co-chaired by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), the Caucus aims to address ethics and accountability issues in Congress, as well as the roots of dysfunction in the current political system." (Issue One)
  • The GSA's centralized data platform should make it easier for employees to explore. "The General Services Administration is building a centralized platform employees can use to explore data sets. The Data Science Virtual Desktop program is designed to be an environment where employees can 'grab access to the data sets' stored in the cloud, and any analytics tools they might need, GSA’s Chief Data Officer Kris Rowley said at an event hosted by ATARC, a working group hosting technology-focused summits." (NextGov)
  • Here's how House members have been able to keep sexual harassment complaints against them secret. "In the secretive system that governs most sexual-harassment settlements in the House, no single lawmaker or committee has a full picture of how many complaints were settled or how much public money was spent to resolve them." (Washington Post
  • Homeland Security regularly fights to keep information that should be public wrapped up. "It took a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by nonprofit groups Detention Watch Network (DWN) and Center for Constitutional Rights to make Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release its list of detention center facilities from July 2017. The detention facility spreadsheet contains basic information on centers’ locations, populations, and evaluations." As Amelia Strauss explains, this is hardly the first time a DHS office has "made it difficult to access documents with information that should be readily available to the public." (Project on Government Oversight)

around the world

France is seeking feedback on open source software via Github.
  • France asked for public comment on the use of open source software by the state. (Etalab) Check out Sunlight's recommendations from 2016, which remain relevant today.
  • How a Malaysian development corporation became a vehicle for kleptocracy. "The alleged corruption related to a Malaysian state investment fund is 'kleptocracy at its worst' and the U.S. is working to provide justice to the victims, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday. 1Malaysia Development Bhd. was created by the government of the Southeast Asian nation to promote long-term economic growth for the benefit of the people, but allegedly corrupt officials and their associates reportedly used the funds for a lavish spending spree, according to a transcript of Sessions’ speech posted on the Department of Justice website." (Bloomberg)
  • Inside Egypt's war on books and free speech. Farid Y. Farid delves into Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's wide ranging efforts to stifle dissent, which include raiding libraries, freezing the assets of human rights activists, and more. (The Atlantic)
  • Billionaire Babis, still facing a fraud investigation, officially becomes Prime Minister of Czech Republic. "The 63-year-old businessman set up ANO in 2011 as a protest against government corruption. Running on a platform of financial responsibility and immigration control, his party won October parliamentary elections by a landslide, with 29.6 percent of the vote. Czech police last month asked the country’s parliamentto lift his parliamentary immunity so that he could be prosecuted for fraud in a case involving a €2 million EU subsidy. Most parties in the lower house of parliament have said they won’t form a coalition with him while he faces charges from the police." (POLITICO)


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