How to watch Equifax’s ex-CEO testify to the House Energy Committee

The man who led Equifax (EFX) for 12 years before stepping down last week is scheduled to testify before a congressional committee on Tuesday to explain the massive data hack that hit the credit bureau earlier this year. Richard E. Smith is expected to explain how 145.5 million customers' personal and financial information was exposed in one of the largest corporate hacks in history. Smith will say he is "deeply sorry," according to prepared remarks released Monday. How to watch the Equifax ex-CEO testimony: Date: Tuesday, Oct. 3 Time: 10:00 a.m. Eastern Online: Follow our live blog, and watch the testimony live at the House Energy and Commerce Committee's website Tuesday kicks off what is likely to be an apology tour for Smith. After testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he's scheduled to appear before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday and at the House Financial Services Committee the following day. Wall Street will be watching his performance on Tuesday closely, as it's expected to set the tone for the rest of the week. If he stumbles or otherwise gives the impression Equifax did less than it could have to deter a breach of its systems, it raises the risk of legislation limiting how consumers' data is collected, or requiring consumer consent for credit bureaus to collect information that they currently obtain freely. Such a requirement "would be business model busting for the credit bureaus," Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at Cowen & Co., wrote in a research note.  Continue Reading

House oversight committee investigates HUD Brooklyn housing co-owned by Trump for possible conflicts of interest

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has opened an inquiry into the many potential conflicts of interest involved in President Trump’s financial interest in the huge Brooklyn apartment complex known as Starrett City. The complex, located in Brooklyn by the Belt Parkway, receives millions of dollars in subsidies from his administration and is facing an inspection by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in the coming weeks. The committee last week sent a letter to Trump’s trust and HUD Secretary Ben Carson spelling out several obvious conflicts and demanding thousands of pages of documents and emails be turned over by July 28. Trump recently reported a 4% ownership interest in the complex near Canarsie that netted him $5 million from January 2015 through mid-April, and has reported an ownership interest as high as 19% in the recent past. His family has been part of the partnership that owns the lower- and middle-income apartments since the complex opened in 1974 as the nation’s largest federally subsidized residential property. For decades, Starrett City owners have received millions of taxpayer dollars from the federal government’s subsidization of tenants there via the program known as Section 8, with more than $490 million flowing from HUD since 2013. In the 1990s, the owners tried to sell the place but HUD refused to sign off on the deal because the buyer’s offer was so high the agency determined he would have to raise rents to stay afloat. The Starrett City owners then tried another tack, seeking a refinancing that HUD ultimately approved in 2009. The letter, sent July 7 by Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking minority member of the committee, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), whose district includes Starrett City, red-flagged this transactional history as raising numerous potential conflicts going forward. HUD, now run by Trump’s appointee, Continue Reading

House Oversight Committee chair stepping down June 30 amid increasing pressure to probe Trump White House

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who announced last month he would not run for reelection when his current term concludes at the end of 2018, said Thursday he will actually resign his seat on June 30. Chaffetz's powerful committee has wide authority to investigate possible misconduct in the executive branch and the Utah Republican had been under increasing pressure to probe the growing number of scandals in the young Trump residency. Just earlier this week ,after news broke that Trump had asked FBI Director James Comey to scrap the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in February, Chaffetz subpoenaed Comey's memos, and invited the ex-agency chief to testify next week before his committee. Last month, Chaffetz, a Republican who has represented Utah's Third Congressional District since 2008, wrote in a Facebook post that he would return to the private sector. Chaffetz took on the chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee in 2015, following Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). He has been the subject of scrutiny in that role, having been criticized for his handling of multiple investigations into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including into her role in responding to the 2012 Benghazi attack and her use of a private email server as secretary of state. But he has has also been roundly criticized for not showing the same interest in investigating potential infractions by Trump. Chaffetz has refused to initiate probes into potential financial conflicts of interest in the Trump White House, as well as into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's cozy ties to Russia. In addition, Chaffetz has made a series of high-profile gaffes in recent weeks, including a bizarre tirade in March in which he said iPhones were keeping poor people from affording health care. Chaffetz said then that the GOP's since-failed Obamacare replacement would Continue Reading

House Republican committee votes to extend 9/11 property insurance against terrorism

A House Republican committee voted to extend a post 9/11 program that helps property owners in New York insure against terrorism — but Democrats say the measure is flawed and will raise insurance costs. Democrats on the House Financial Services all voted against the measure that would extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. "The goal is to get the strongest bill possible," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan). Maloney said Democrats hope opposition gives them leverage to force changes to the measure before it receives a vote on the House floor. The program provides a guaranteed federal backstop to companies that sell insurance against the prospect of a devastating terror attack. It was created in response to the near impossibility of buying terror insurance in downtown Manhattan after the September 11 attack. "The financial district was attacked in the hopes of crippling the economy of the United States of America,” Maloney said, so federal support for terror insurance is one way the country can "fight back.” Maloney and other Democrats said they were encouraged that the House Republican bill extended the program for five years. But they said other provisions imposed by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) make the bill unacceptable. They faulted in particular an increase in the threshold that would trigger government support for insurers from $100 million to $500 million. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Friday that he "House's backwards approach” would slow real estate development around the country. Schumer is pushing his own compromise extension, which makes less significant changes to program. If the chambers cannot agree, the program will expire at year’s end. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Top Democrat fears House Intelligence Committee may split on Russia probe findings

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said he fears the panel's Russia investigation could end up producing two separate, partisan reports offering contradictory conclusions to Americans.Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said he will work with other committee members "to do everything we can to prevent two separate reports" on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials."The ideal would be a comprehensive report with bipartisan support," Schiff said in a phone interview from California with USA TODAY.However, he noted that past investigations by congressional committees have often resulted in separate findings by Republicans and Democrats."It may still have to happen with us," Schiff said. "If it does, then Americans will have to read both reports and decide which one to believe. And that is far less than ideal."Schiff said the committee still has a long way to go in its Russia investigation and he is hopeful that it can avoid a partisan split.He said the panel has been "making progress" but that it's hard to say when the probe will be finished. The congressman expressed doubt that the investigation, which was announced in late January, would be completed this year."I think it would be difficult to conclude an investigation of this magnitude in a matter of months," Schiff said. USA TODAY investigation: Russia probe could reveal Trump's closest-held secrets Russia probe: Trump shakes up legal team More: Breitbart, other 'alt-right' websites are the darlings of Russian propaganda effort Asked whether he thinks the committee has sufficient resources for its investigation, Schiff replied: "No, I don't.""We ought to have two to three times the resources devoted to it," he said. Schiff said those resources would have been greater if the House and Senate Intelligence committees had agreed to a joint investigation, Continue Reading

House Ethics Committee launches probes into Reps. Andrews of N.J., Young of Alaska

The U.S. House Ethics Committee said Tuesday it has launched formal investigations into the conduct of Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska. One investigative panel will look into whether Andrews improperly spent campaign funds and official resources for personal reasons. New Jersey media first reported in 2011 that he used campaign money to treat his family to a luxury vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland. He later reimbursed the funds to his campaign. The Star-Ledger also reported he used campaign cash to boost his daughter’s budding acting career. Another panel will investigate if Young improperly accepted gifts, failed to report gifts on his financial disclosure statements, or misused official resources. The panel said it is considering “a referral from the Department of Justice regarding Representative Young’s expenses and travel costs for certain trips which were the subject of the Committee’s ongoing review.” Both congressmen also face allegations of lying to federal officials. The formation of investigative panels do not necessarily suggest the congressmen broke House rules of conduct, the Ethics Committee said in separate statements about the cases. In a written statement, Andrews slammed the allegations against him as “false and politically-motivated.” "As I have previously stated, this continuing review by the House Ethics Committee will establish and confirm that I have always followed all the rules and met all the standards of the House,” he said in a written statement. “In this process, I have always responded truthfully and accurately in all respects.” “I will eagerly provide any and all information requested by the Committee in response to the false and politically-motivated, and in some instances anonymous accusations the Committee will review,” he added. Young’s press secretary, Mike Continue Reading

House Ethics Committee OKs Queens Rep. Joe Crowley’s fund-raisers

Queens Rep. Joe Crowley got a pass from the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday following claims of fund-raising shenanigans.Crowley had raised eyebrows for a string of lobbyist-laden cash bashes in the days ahead of the Dec. 11, 2009, vote to enact new financial regulations.Ethics investigators found the fund-raisers "were no different than any routine fund-raising." A Crowley spokeswoman said the Democrat "has always complied with the letter and spirit of all rules." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

House passes most sweeping banking reform bill since New Deal

The House passed a sweeping financial regulation bill Friday, designed to prevent another financial crisis.  It is the most expansive change to banking regulations since the New Deal, CNN reports.  The bill passed the House 223-202.  The Senate is not expected to act on the House version until 2010, the Associated Press said.The bill outlines more oversight and higher capital requirements for financial firms.  These firms would also be forced to pay into an "emergency fund" that would be used when a bank or Wall Street firm was in crisis.  Plus, the government would create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to oversee consumer financial products like credit cards and mortgages."The bailouts of AIG and Bear Stearns would be not possible - made illegal - under this bill," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Committee, said Wednesday. "If a company fails, it'll be put to death."The Obama administration is pleased with the House passage of the Bill. "The president set forth clear objectives and principles for reform that were endorsed by Congressional leaders," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement. "House passage of this bill moves us an important step closer to meeting the president's objectives for reform."President Barack Obama called on the Senate to pass the bill so he can sign it into law. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

House committee releases Benghazi emails, but not Sidney Blumenthal’s full testimony

WASHINGTON — The House Benghazi Committee on Monday released a trove of emails sent between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal on Libya, but refused to put out the full transcript of his deposition before the panel. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), charged that the emails proved Clinton when secretary of state was receiving “unvetted intelligence, which may have come from sources with financial interests in Libya.” “Once again the Benghazi Committee uncovers information that should already be part of the public record but was not made available to the American people or congressional investigators,” Gowdy said. The committee’s Democrats have been fighting for the release of the full transcript of Blumenthal’s testimony from last Tuesday. They ripped Gowdy’s refusal to do so, pointing out that he was selectively releasing information and arguing he’s doing it just to try to make Clinton look bad. “By the Chairman's own admission, these emails have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi, and their selective release demonstrates the Select Committee's singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president,” the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said in a statement. Blumenthal and his attorneys have also been calling for his full testimony to be released, believing it shows that the committee is on a political witch hunt. Gowdy said in a letter to the committee’s Democrats that he’s not ruling out a future release of the deposition’s transcript, promising to discuss it at a future meeting. Republicans have used the new emails, which the State Department didn't provide as part of the investigation, to question whether Clinton has intentionally withheld information from its investigation. They say the Continue Reading

Former House Speaker Jim Wright dies at age 92

Former House Speaker Jim Wright, the longtime Texas Democrat who became the first speaker in history to be driven out of office in midterm, has died. He was 92. Wright, who had been living in a nursing home in Fort Worth, died early Wednesday morning, according to the Harveson and Cole funeral home in Fort Worth. Funeral arrangements are pending. Wright represented a Fort Worth-area congressional district for 34 years, beginning with his election in 1954. He was the Democratic majority leader in the House for a decade, rising to the speakership in January 1987, to replace Tip O’Neill. Three House speakers had resigned in the nation’s history before Wright stepped down in 1989 — all the others served during the 19th century — but none before him had been under fire and facing judgment in the House for breaking its ethics rules. For nearly a year, the House Ethics Committee investigated Wright’s financial affairs at the prodding of a little-known Georgia congressman, Republican Newt Gingrich, who publicly branded Wright a “crook.” The bipartisan committee charged Wright with 69 violations of House rules on reporting of gifts, accepting gifts from people with an interest in legislation, and limits on outside income. The committee accused Wright of scheming to evade limits on outside earnings by self-publishing a book, “Reflections of a Public Man,” he then sold in bulk. He was also accused of improperly accepting $145,000 in gifts over 10 years from a Fort Worth developer. In response, Wright said he had not violated any House rules and vowed to fight the charges. His support among fellow Democrats quickly eroded. In a floor speech on April 30, 1989, that ended with the announcement of his resignation, Wright called for an end to “mindless cannibalism” and decried what he called “this manic idea of a frenzy of feeding on other people’s reputation.” His detractors Continue Reading