Homeland Security

Kelly Admits Missteps With White House Aides’ Clearances
Embattled chief of staff to phase out interim security clearances

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, seen here with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, has altered how the West Wing handles aides’ security clearances after the Rob Porter domestic assault scandal. (AP/Andrew Harnik file photo)

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, under fire after a former staffer’s domestic abuse scandal, has admitted the Trump team mishandled aides’ background investigations, and ordered new steps in how the West Wing handles security clearances.

In a five-page memo to staffers released Friday afternoon by the White House, Kelly alluded to the Rob Porter scandal but also attempted to spread the blame for a process he said was flawed but was one he inherited.

Analysis: Trump’s Hawks Won Senate Immigration Debate (By Not Losing)
White House remains well-positioned for coming rounds as DACA deadline looms

White House aides Stephen Miller, fourth from right, and Marc Short, second from right, were instrumental in preventing bipartisan immigration proposals President Donald Trump opposed from passing the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s immigration hard-liners proved Thursday it is possible to win even when the outcome of a battle is, on paper, a draw.

An immigration overhaul amendment backed by the administration received fewer votes Thursday than three other Senate proposals that also failed to pass the Senate. But the White House emerged from that chamber’s underwhelming and unproductive floor debate in strong shape for future fights on the issue.

How Orrin Hatch Found His Twitter Groove
‘He has this incredible sense of humor, he loves self-deprecating humor, he loves age jokes’

Matt Whitlock, left, says the voice of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Twitter account is the senator himself. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s not easy to create one of the most popular Twitter handles in Congress when you’re speaking in your 83-year-old boss’s voice.

But Matt Whitlock, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s communication director, has done just that. The Utah Republican has about 65,000 followers.

‘Dreamers’ in Limbo After Senate Rejects Immigration Plans
It remains unclear when Congress will take up DACA legislation again

Immigration rights advocates demonstrate in favor of “Dreamers” at a protest in Washington on Dec. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate squandered three opportunities on Thursday to advance legislation that would protect so-called Dreamers from deportation and enhance border security measures.

Lawmakers could not muster the 60 votes needed on any of the three proposals, all of which would have offered a path to citizenship for at least 1.8 million Dreamers in return for some degree of border security. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to support a last-ditch bipartisan deal announced Wednesday, but even that was not enough.

White House Call on Immigration Plan Gets Personal, Testy
Bipartisan compromise ‘spectacularly poorly drafted,’ official says

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were among those slammed by a senior White House official over a bipartisan immigration measure they both helped craft. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House is “alarmed” by a bipartisan immigration measure offered by nearly 20 Republican and Democratic senators, a senior administration official said during a testy midday briefing.

The measure is “totally and completely unserious,” the official said during a conference call that would only be attributed to senior officials despite their sharp critiques, by name, of sitting U.S. senators. Other terms and words this official used: “dead on arrival,” “reckless,” and “spectacularly poorly drafted.”

House Republicans’ Immigration Bill Not Ready for Floor Action
Whip team says they will continue to refine the legislation

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and his team did a whip count on a GOP immigration bill, and it showed the measure wasn’t quite ready for a floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans’ preferred immigration bill is not ready for a floor vote, a Wednesday whip check showed, but leadership is expected to continue working it.

The bill by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul is the most conservative of the proposals House and Senate lawmakers and the White House have floated for addressing the coming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Kelly Should Keep Job Despite Missteps, Pence Says
VP: ‘Talking’ to North Korea ‘is not negotiation’

Vice President Mike Pence says he's all in with John F. Kelly as White House chief of staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence wants embattled White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to keep his job even as he admits officials mishandled the fallout of the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal.

“John Kelly has done a remarkable job as chief of staff for the president of the United States,” Pence said Wednesday at an event in Washington sponsored by Axios. “And I look forward to continuing to work with him for many, many months to come.”

Ryan to House: Pass DACA Bill in March
'We clearly need to address this issue in March,' the speaker said

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., suggests the March 5 deadline for Congress to act on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is flexible but a bill should move in March. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday Congress needs to pass legislation replacing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program by the end of March.

Ryan's imposed deadline for House action comes as the Republican whip team starts to count up votes for an immigration bill (HR 4760) by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., to determine if it has enough support to bring to the floor.

Analysis: Trump Takes the Budget Out of Budget Day
‘This is going to be awful,’ Mulvaney says of own budget briefing

President Donald Trump speaks earlier this month at a Republican retreat in West Virginia. He has yet to make a public pitch for his 2019 budget proposal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sometimes it’s what a president doesn’t say that reveals his true priorities. That certainly appears to be the case with Donald Trump’s second budget request.

The Trump administration is asking Congress to spend $4.4 trillion in taxpayer funds, but the president has shown little interest in selling the fiscal 2019 request. The chief executive had multiple opportunities Monday and Tuesday to speak into microphones and use his bully pulpit to advocate for the spending priorities. Instead, he focused on other matters.

Opinion: The Russians — and the Midterms — Are Coming
U.S. elections are vulnerable, and that needs to change

A march near the Kremlin in 2015 honors Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was fatally shot shortly before a major opposition rally. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Robert A. Brady warn against Russian meddling in future U.S. elections. (Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images file photo)

In November 2016, 139 million Americans cast their votes in the wake of a massive Russian cyber-enabled operation to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

The Kremlin spread disinformation through hundreds of thousands of social media posts. Russian agents hacked U.S. political organizations and selectively exposed sensitive information. Russia targeted voting systems in at least 21 states, seeking to infiltrate the networks of voting equipment vendors, political parties and at least one local election board.