Jeff Sessions

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report
The Senate voted to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

William Barr takes over the Justice Department on Thursday at a pivotal moment for the nation’s legal landscape, with his tenure closely tied to how he will handle the special counsel’s Russia investigation and any political pressure from the White House.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines. Senators have strong clues that he will continue the Trump administration’s conservative policies and legal arguments on immigration, civil rights enforcement and LGBT employment discrimination.

Whitaker tells House he hasn’t messed with Mueller probe
The acting AG told the committee his department complied with and hasn’t changed special counsel regulations during his tenure

Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker arrives for a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice," where he is expected to be questioned about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that he has not interfered with the special counsel’s Russia investigation and hasn’t promised the White House anything about the probe or informed anyone there about it.

Not that it was easy for Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to get him to say that.

Family separation blasted by both parties at oversight hearing
“I think what we’re really talking about is state sponsored child abuse, and I would go as far as to say kidnapping,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky

A family member walks into the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013 in Adelanto, California. The facility, the largest and newest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detention center in California, houses an average of 1,100 immigrants in custody pending a decision in their immigration cases or awaiting deportation. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats on a House subcommittee demanded answers Thursday from Health and Human Services officials regarding how many children were actually separated from parents during the “zero tolerance” policy last spring at the southern border, after a report found that thousands more children could have been separated than the 2,700 previously reported.

“What’s been happening is more than irresponsible and sloppy. I think what we’re really talking about is state sponsored child abuse, and I would go as far as to say kidnapping,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said at a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Whitaker will skip House hearing if Democrats don’t pull subpoena threat
Judiciary Chairman Nadler wants to keep subpoena in his back pocket in case it’s needed

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he hopes not to have to use a subpoena to compel testimony from acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, but “Unfortunately a series of troubling events over the last few months suggest that we should be prepared.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he will bail on his scheduled testimony in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday unless Democrats assure him they will not file the subpoena they voted to authorize along party lines on Thursday.

At the heart of the disagreement — and why Democrats green-lighted the preemptive subpoena-in-reserve in the first place — is Democrats’ wariness that Whitaker will avoid answering certain questions about his communications with President Donald Trump about the special counsel investigation of Robert S. Mueller III and other hot-button issues by citing, without effectively asserting, “executive privilege.”

Barr nomination to get votes on the Senate floor next week
Comes after 12-10 committee vote, which reflected concerns from Democrats about how he would handle the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | William P. Barr is on track to be confirmed as the next attorney general next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to limit debate and cut off any filibuster threats against the Barr nomination Thursday, setting up votes as soon as the Senate finishes work on a bipartisan package of public lands bills.

Whitaker hearing is first big test of Trump’s ‘executive privilege’ strategy
Acting attorney general will be first White House official to be questioned by new Congress

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is expected to get a number of questions from the House Judiciary Committee about any conversations he had with White House officials, including the president, about his role overseeing the special counsel investigation. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s testimony at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday will offer a first glimpse into how the Trump administration plans to comply with — or stall — House Democrats’ oversight inquiries.

The hearing, slated for 9:30 a.m., will put to the test the White House counsel’s strategy for invoking executive privilege on certain conversations between the president and his close advisers.

A Kamala Harris candidacy is a test, and not just for the candidate
2020 hopeful’s life story is the story of America, even if many don’t see it that way

Sen. Kamala Harris won’t just be confronting her Democratic rivals in her quest for the presidency, but also questions about her “exotic” identity that few other candidates face, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Of course, a reporter asked Kamala Harris how she would describe her identity. The California senator, a new entry into a crowded and growing Democratic field to challenge Donald Trump next year, answered simply, “I describe myself as a proud American.”

It’s a question no other candidate has been asked, and one that Harris will no doubt be asked again before the long slog to November 2020 is completed.

Acting AG Matt Whitaker agrees to testify before House on Feb. 8
Testimony will be Whitaker’s first since he took over for Jeff Sessions in October

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8, 2019. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker have agreed for Whitaker to testify before the committee in early February, partial government shutdown or no.

The appearance is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at 9:30 a.m.

Barr assures senators of his independence
AG nominee says Mueller investigation isn’t a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions ‘probably did right thing’ in recusing himself

William Barr, nominee for attorney general, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | William Barr appeared to be on a path to confirmation as the next attorney general Tuesday, after he gave senators key assurances about the special counsel probe into the 2016 elections and distanced himself from some of President Donald Trump’s comments about the investigation.

During more than seven hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr avoided the kind of missteps that might cost him votes of Republicans, who have a 53-47 advantage in the chamber. But some Democrats say he did not do enough to reassure them that he would protect Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and make the results public.

Nadler sets Jan. 29 deadline for acting AG Whitaker to testify
Whitaker had asked to meet at least two weeks after government shutdown ends

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker demanding his appearance before the committee by Jan. 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, demanding that he appear before the Judiciary Committee by Jan. 29 and saying that the government shutdown was no excuse for delaying his testimony.

Whitaker previously wrote to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York that he would appear before the panel in mid-February “so long as the Department is at least two weeks removed from a partial government shutdown.”