Niels Lesniewski

Senate, After One Day Back at the Capitol, Packs It In for the Week
Chamber confirmed two circuit court judges and moved to appropriations package

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., runs in the Senate subway basement on Thursday, shortly before senators cast their last votes of the week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators didn’t exactly extend themselves with the floor schedule for their first week back in session in August, though they did confirm another pair of President Donald Trump’s nominees to be judges on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. and Julius Ness Richardson. 

Quattlebaum was confirmed Thursday on a 62-28 vote, while Richardson got by on an 81-8 vote. 

Free Press Gets a Boost With Senate Resolution Declaring It Is Not the Enemy
Action comes on same day newspapers coordinate on free press message

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii is leading a resolution to defend press freedoms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday went on record declaring “that the press is not the enemy of the people” — a rebuke to President Donald Trump, who declares the opposite on a regular basis. 

Senators adopted by unanimous consent a resolution from Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York to declare the Senate’s support for a free press and the First Amendment protections afforded to journalists.

Trump Revokes Former CIA Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance
President is reviewing access to one current and eight former officials

President Donald Trump, here on the Hill in June, has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John O. Brennan, citing his “erratic conduct and behavior.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John O. Brennan and is reviewing the status for eight other former officials as well as one current official. 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from Trump on the security clearance reviews at the start of her daily press briefing. 

Democrats Continue Camera Shy Ways With Brett Kavanaugh
Senate courtesy meetings continue, but with nary a photo op

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh arrives to meet with Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., in the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic senators have, at least from Republican states, started meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but they are mostly avoiding the press when doing so. 

With senators back in town, meetings with President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court resumed Wednesday, with a pair of Democrats on the agenda.

Trump Won’t Follow Congressional Directives on Russia and Crimea
Defense authorization signing statement effectively discards restrictions on recognizing Crimea as Russian

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin answer questions about the 2016 U.S election collusion during a joint press conference after their summit in July. Trump now objects to efforts by Congress to prevent his administration from recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump objects to an effort by Congress to prevent his administration from recognizing Crimea as part of Russia.

Crimea is a region in Ukraine that has been occupied by Russia for several years, with the Russian Federation having claimed to have annexed the region in March 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed the territorial matter is settled, but many in Washington disagree.

At Fort Drum Event, Trump Boosts McSally, Does Not Mention McCain
Arizona GOP Senate candidate among lawmakers highlighted in New York's North Country

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., received a boost from President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona politics headed eastward to New York’s North Country on Monday, as President Donald Trump signed a Pentagon policy bill there named after one of his frequent nemeses, Republican John McCain, who went unmentioned by the president, and singled out for praise a woman seeking to become McCain’s Senate colleague: Rep. Martha McSally.

McSally made the trip across the country to the Army’s Fort Drum and was  rewarded with a shout-out from Trump, although not an endorsement.

Road Ahead: Senate Returning to DC for the Ides of August
Floor agenda will look familiar: judicial nominations and appropriation bills

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.,left, jokes with Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, as he walks down the Senate steps on Aug. 1 after the chamber’s last vote of the week. Risch was posing for photos with interns on the steps. Senators return Wednesday from their truncated district work period. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Thank goodness the Senate has “manufactured weather.”

That’s what Carrier called the system that was first installed to cool the chamber in the early 20th century. The modern air conditioning will be in full use this week as the Senate returns for a rare mid-August session.

McConnell Casts Doubt on Legislation to Restrict Trump’s Trade Authority
Kentucky Republican talked taxes and trade Friday in Louisville

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was talking taxes and trade in his hometown on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped at a water tank manufacturing company Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, to tout the benefits of the Republican tax overhaul, but the conversation not surprisingly turned to trade.

The Kentucky Republican said it was unlikely Congress could enact restrictions on President Donald Trump’s trade authority, despite some GOP senators’ efforts to reign in the president’s actions.

Bill Nelson Says Florida Election Systems Compromised by Russians
Senate Intelligence Committee avoids confirming or denying Democratic senator’s statement

Sen. Bill Nelson, right said he and fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were made aware of Russian penetration of Florida election systems. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee told Sen. Bill Nelson to alert Florida election officials about Russian interference in their systems, they aren’t saying.

Nelson, a Florida Democrat on the ballot in 2018, was quoted by the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday saying that, “We were requested by the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee to let the supervisors of election in Florida know that the Russians are in their records.”

Maryland Democrat Pushes for Answers on Trump Role in FBI Headquarters Project
Sen. Chris Van Hollen said the GSA has not been fully forthcoming

The front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Maryland Democratic senator wants to know how involved President Donald Trump has been in the development of a new FBI headquarters building.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen has written to General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy to give her an opportunity to expand on answers she gave in response to written questions for the record following a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing back in February.