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Archive for the ‘2 – Capitol Hill News’ Category

Trump, Putin speak at joint press conference in Helsinki — live blog


LIVE COVERAGE: Putin says he wanted Trump to beat Hillary; both agree there was no collusion



House conservatives have begun planning the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to reports.


Report: House Conservatives Move Forward
with Plans to Impeach Rod Rosenstein

Rod Rosenstein15,015

House conservatives have begun planning the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to reports.

Leading Freedom Caucus members Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are laying the groundwork to bring articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, as House investigators accuse the Justice Department of stonewalling their requests for documents related to the agency’s surveillance of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Politico writes:

House conservatives are preparing a new push to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to three conservative Capitol Hill sources — putting the finishing touches on an impeachment filing even as Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election.   House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, in fact, had the impeachment document on the floor of the House at the very moment that Rosenstein spoke to reporters and TV cameras Friday.

Reports of the plan come after Rosenstein announced charges Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 election and pushed back on allegations that FBI agents are leaking details of the probe to reporters. The Russians are accused of hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton – then releasing stolen emails on the Internet in the months before the election.





Fox News Halftime Report

July 10, 2018
By Chris Stirewalt

On the roster: Dems face big loss, big opportunity with Kavanaugh – Tim Ryan debates taking on Pelosi – Trump talks up UK ‘turmoil’ ahead of visit – Audible: Sen. McSalty – Knight to Prius 2

Democrats say that they are prepared to mount a fervent, historic effort to keep Judge Brett Kavanaugh off of the Supreme Court, but it’s kind of hard to believe them right now.

Talking about it this morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was only able to muster the glum resolution of a man contemplating a vegan hotdog. Mmm Mmm…

It is true that Kavanaugh’s all-but-certain elevation from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the highest court in the land will be historic. Arguably for the first time since the 1930s, the Supreme Court will have a reliably right-of-center majority. For most of the post-World War II era, the court has been substantially focused on enhancing and shaping federal power in service of progressive policy aims. For the first time in a long time, the newly constituted Roberts court is likely to be more focused on constraining government activities.

Chief Justice John Roberts will become the swing vote and the only points on which he tends to disagree with his fellow Republican appointees is on just how narrowly to define the powers of the court itself.

No project has been more focused or more consuming for Americans in the past 40 years, so this victory will be sweet for them indeed.

Kavanaugh, a bright, thoughtful and richly qualified candidate starts with the presumption that every Republican will sign on to his nomination, which probably means that four or five Democrats from red states will get aboard as well.  Given the anguishing responses from Democrats since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, they clearly understand how big a deal it is to have this shift toward small government conservatism on the court that has, since the 1950s, been their most successful vehicle for implementing large-scale policy changes.

But the historic nature of the moment does nothing to change the political calculus. President Trump is replacing a Republican appointee for whom Kavanaugh clerked and has apparently also been Kavanaugh’s champion through the president’s nominating process. While some conservatives are grousing that Trump did not shoot the moon with the pick and choose a more boldly conservative choice, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell understood the value of a well-vetted, well-liked nominee for what is going to be a sprint of a confirmation process.

The next term of the court starts in 83 days, which gives the Senate just enough time to push the nomination through. For context, the three most recent appointees to the Supreme Court, Neil GorsuchElena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, were confirmed in 66 days, 87 days and 66 days respectively. A wild confirmation battle like the one that took Clarence Thomas 99 days from nomination to confirmation would not do.  No Supreme Court nominee has ever been rejected by a Senate in the hands of the same party as the president. And with Harry Reid’s nuclear option in hand the chances for defeat or even significant delay appear rather remote.

Though this may sound a little consolation to Democrats in the face of what looks to be a generational setback for the liberal cause, there is opportunity in this moment for the Blue Team.

Schumer and his fellow Democrats do face some challenges in how to run their opposition effort. The loudest voices in his conference, especially those greasing the skids for potential 2020 presidential runs, would profit by being seen as extremists in defense of freedom, while moderates and those facing re-election in red states have lots of incentive to sound reasonable.  Democrat strategy has to take both of these sets of interests into account, which will essentially add up to allowing individual senators to take any rhetorical leaps they like while still trying to hold the line of unified opposition for as long as practical, at which point the defectors will be given hall passes to join the majority backing Kavanaugh.

Along the way, however, all of the scaremongering and doomsday talk will provide marvelous motivations for Democratic base voters and donors heading into the shank of the midterm campaign season.  This nomination may be a generational opportunity for Republicans, but their incipient defeat certainly provides a short-term opportunity for Democrats in their bid to hold Republicans to their current narrow majority in the Senate and take back the House.

Much of what you see over the next 12 weeks will be pure theater staged for the purpose of taking an already electrified Democratic base into new ecstasies of outrage and indignation.  Democrats will use the hearings and coverage around them to push their core issue set for 2018: Republican efforts to roll back taxpayer funded health insurance, perceived threats to minority protections and corruption within the Trump administration.

It’s no wonder that the hearings are unlikely to be either useful or illuminating, but they will be a great opportunity for Democrats to dress up this vegan frankfurter with all the electoral fixings.

Pruitt gone from EPA – Andrew Wheeler a deputy steps in


The Memo: At EPA, Pruitt is gone but policies stay

The Memo: At EPA, Pruitt is gone but policies stay

Even members of President Trump’s circle acknowledge that Scott Pruitt’s departure from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was overdue.
But they also contend that his ouster will not produce any noticeable change in policy. And environmentalists worry they might be right.
After months of ethics-related controversies — his conduct was being examined as part of no fewer than 15 probes — Pruitt finally resigned on Thursday. His replacement — at least on an interim basis — is Andrew Wheeler, a Pruitt deputy whose resume includes stints as a coal lobbyist and as an aide to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), perhaps the most prominent denier of climate change on Capitol Hill.


Immigration Judge Could Face Discipline for Hatch Act Violation

Federal employees are not allowed to wear MAGA gear on the job.
Federal employees are not allowed to wear MAGA gear on the job.
By J. Bicking / Shutterstock.com

Justice Department immigration Judge Carmene “Zsa Zsa” DePaolo violated the Hatch Act in March 2016 when she spoke favorably of Democratic candidates during an official hearing, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by the Office of Special Counsel.   In a filing with the Merit Systems Protection Board, the special counsel requested discipline for the judge for saying, during an open deportation hearing, that the threat of a 10-year ban on reentry for an undocumented person was “a pretty harsh thing” that then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was planning to change.

The policy would be altered provided that “the Senate becomes a Democratic body and there’s some hope that they can actually pass immigration legislation,” DePaulo added. She then said the Republicans, by contrast, “aren’t going to do anything” about immigration “if they can help it,” other than to “try to deport everybody,” according to the OSC’s account.
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“When a federal immigration judge in a public setting uses her position to advocate for partisan campaign outcomes, that’s a real problem,” Special Counsel Henry Kerner said in a statement. “Judge DePaolo appears to be in clear violation of the Hatch Act and we believe she should face significant disciplinary action.”  Hatch Act violations can result in demotion, suspension, removal from employment or debarment.
Separately, the OSC is being asked to deal with a possible Hatch Act violation by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. On Tuesday, while attending the Western Governors Association annual meeting in Rapid City, S.D., near Mount Rushmore, Zinke tweeted a photo of his sock, which bore a likeness of President Trump and his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”


White House Defends Government Reorganization Proposals Amid Congressional Criticism

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he was concerned the reorganization proposal was "just an effort to do more harm to federal employees."Mre, Negative don’t accept anything the Republicans say or do!

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he was concerned the
reorganization proposal was “just an effort to do more
harm to federal employees.” Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Web director comment: Cummings doesn’t get the point;
The purpose is to reduce the size of Government that means
eliminate employees!)
The White House fended off a barrage of criticisms and concerns over its plan to reorganize the federal government during a hearing to review the proposal on Wednesday, with members of both parties pushing back on key parts of the plan.
Facing the objections, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert said all of the recommendations stemmed from a desire to make improvements in three areas: agency missions, services for citizens and stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee generally praised the overall intent of the plan, but repeatedly flagged specific suggestions they found problematic. Democrats, meanwhile, questioned the Trump administration’s motives in putting forward its blueprint and focused specifically on negative effects they said it would have on federal workers.
Weichert defended the proposals, including privatizing air traffic control, reforming the jurisdictions of the Transportation Department, changes to the Agriculture Department and its food assistance programs, and merging the departments of Labor and Education. Lawmakers paid particular attention to two controversial proposals: privatizing the U.S. Postal Service and shrinking the Office of Personnel Management while moving some of its functions to a policy shop within the White House.
The changes to OPM actually represented an elevation of the agency, Weichert repeatedly told lawmakers, citing the proximity the director would have to the White House. She noted that only one country similar to the United States has an entity in its government like OPM, and that example—France—is “not known to be a bastion of bureaucratic efficiency.” She said ridding OPM of its human resources processing responsibilities would enable it to focus on strategic workforce reforms, preserve merit system principles and better position it to undertake the reskilling and redeployment efforts the administration hopes to accomplish.



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