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Vox Sentences: Hero or pirate?

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House Democrats finally file a lawsuit for Trump’s tax return; the arrest of a German captain shows Europe’s division on refugees.

The battle for Trump’s tax returns goes to court

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • After a long wait, House Democrats are finally filing a lawsuit to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns. [Washington Post / Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade]
  • In the lawsuit filed by the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the defendants are listed as the Treasury Department, the IRS, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. [The Hill]
  • The dispute dates back to April, when the committee demanded six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns from the IRS by invoking an obscure 1924 law. The committee resorted to subpoenaing the returns after Mnuchin missed the deadline twice. [CNN / Lauren Fox, Katelyn Polantz, Clare Foran, and Ellie Kaufman]
  • The committee argues that the administration defying their subpoena requests attacks Congress’s oversight authority of “the Treasury, the I.R.S., and the tax laws on behalf of the American people.” [CNBC / Kevin Breuninger]
  • They say it is necessary for them to view these records to make sure that the IRS is properly auditing the president as it has promised. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • Yet in the past, the Trump administration has claimed it doesn’t need to adhere to the committee’s requests because they lack a “legitimate legislative purpose.” [Politico / Brian Faler]
  • This fight is larger than just the issue of Trump’s tax returns. Similar battles between the House and the administration are being fought on multiple fronts, including the Mueller investigation and the census citizenship question. [NYT / Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage]
  • Don’t expect results from these investigations anytime soon, though. House Democrats are in for a lengthy court battle that could possibly end up in the Supreme Court. [WSJ / Richard Rubin]

A German captain faces prison time after rescuing migrants at sea

  • A German ship’s captain could face up to 10 years in prison for rescuing dozens of migrants at sea. [NYT / Elisabetta Povoledo]
  • Carola Rackete rescued 53 migrants who were fleeing Libya in a flimsy dinghy. She said that per maritime law, she had to take them to a safe port, which is why she brought them to a nearby Italian island. [Washington Post / Chico Harlan]
  • But Italian authorities ordered Rackete to return the migrants to Libya. After a standoff that lasted more than two weeks, Rackete docked her ship on the island of Lampedusa, defying the authorities. [CNN / Rob Picheta and Nicola Ruotolo]
  • Rackete has found fame back at home as a hero who is defying Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has vowed not to let any rescue boats release migrants through Italian ports. [AP / Frances D’Emilio]
  • Salvini has called Rackete a pirate and is pushing for her punishment; she’s currently under house arrest and facing charges that could lead to a maximum of 10 years in prison. [Reuters / Antonio Denti and Wladimiro Pantaleone]
  • In Germany, where pro-migrant sentiments remain high in comparison to other European Union countries, people are calling for Rackete’s release, including the country’s foreign minister and president. [Washington Post / Rick Noack]
  • The arrest also shows the rising tension within the European Union, especially when it comes to dealing with migrants. [Financial Times / Hannah Roberts]


  • What President Trump wants, President Trump gets. Per his wishes, there will now be tanks at his Fourth of July event in DC. [CNN / Ryan Browne]
  • Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and Nike spokesperson advised the brand not to release sneakers featuring an early version of the US flag because the flag was reminiscent of an era of slavery. Nike has now decided to pull the shoes from the market, and some Republican politicians are not happy. [WSJ / Khadeeja Safdar and Andrew Beaton]
  • Nearly all deaths by stinging are caused by yellow jackets. This summer, multiple “super nests” of the wasps have been discovered in Alabama — including one the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. [CBS News / Danielle Garrand]
  • Despite international criticism, Japan has resumed commercial whale hunting. Is it worth it? [NYT / Ben Dooley and Hisako Ueno]
  • What do you do if you’re trying to get your city to notice a pothole that’s been neglected for months? You throw it a birthday party! [Business Insider / Susanna Heller]


“We are here today because Donald Trump and his enablers have sneered at our laws and avoided the thinnest accountability for their corruption. The Ways and Means Committee must file this action to stand for rule of law.” [Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) on why lawmakers need Trump’s tax returns]

Watch this: Why Iraq’s great rivers are dying

And the timing couldn’t be worse. [YouTube / Sam Ellis]

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