Chris Coons

‘Beast’ Mode: Democrats Worry Kim Is Playing Trump
GOP is willing to give him time, but Dems see ‘unprepared’ president

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participate in a signing ceremony during a Tuesday meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Kim Jong Un peered inside as a Secret Service agent held open a door of “The Beast,” President Donald Trump’s heavily armored limousine. The surreal moment left some lawmakers speechless, with Democrats saying it showed Trump was too conciliatory toward the North Korean leader during their historic summit.

Trump and Kim wrapped their Singapore summit by signing a preliminary nuclear agreement Tuesday that is as sweeping as it is vague. It expresses the United States is “committed” to providing unspecified security assurances to the North and that Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

FBI Director Raises Concerns about Chinese Tech Giant Trump Wants to Help
Wray defends agency, responding to political attacks from Congress and White House

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building on the bureau’s FY2019 budget Wednesday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday reaffirmed concerns about Chinese telecommunications company ZTE that President Donald Trump wants to help — and defended the agency from political attacks coming from the White House and Congress. 

At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing about the FBI’s fiscal 2019 budget request, Wray used a question about the agency’s responsiveness to congressional oversight to highlight the importance of protecting people who provide agents information.

Senate Panel Sends Message By Advancing Mueller Bill
A warning to Trump even if special counsel protections don’t become law

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to provide job protection for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, but it faces major obstacles. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday to give protections to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which senators said sent a message to President Donald Trump even if it has major hurdles to ever becoming law.

Although the 14-7 vote on the measure split Republicans, the message from the committee to Trump was clear.

Menendez ‘Severely Admonished’ Over Gifts From Dr. Melgen
Should close the book on Senate action related to ethics scandal

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was admonished by the Senate’s Ethics Committee on Thursday . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Ethics Committee has “severely admonished” Sen. Robert Menendez for improperly accepting gifts from South Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen.

In a letter, the Ethics panel directed the Democrat from New Jersey to pay for all improper gifts that have not already been reimbursed. The panel of three Democrats and three Republicans noted that some reimbursement had already been made.

Opinion: Best and the Brightest? Trump’s Troika of Troubled Nominees
Senate can stop president’s dismal choices for cabinet jobs

White House physician Ronny Jackson, nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, had better hang on to his day job after lawmakers cited “serious concerns,” Walter Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate confirmation fights have been the stuff of Washington drama from the fictional “Advise and Consent” (1960 Pulitzer Prize) to the real-life rejection of John Tower (a rumored alcoholic and inveterate skirt chaser) for Defense secretary in 1989. And of course, Mike Pence last year had to break a 50-50 Senate tie over the fate of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

But never in modern times has a president in the midst of his first term had three nominees as troubled as the Trump Troika.

After Coons Demonstrates Comity, Pompeo Avoids Dubious Distinction
Old Senate traditions on display as Delaware Democrat pairs with Georgia Republican

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and ranking member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., confer Monday before a tense committee markup on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo narrowly avoided historical ignominy on Monday when the Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination to be secretary of State.

It took more steps to advance President Donald Trump’s nominee than anyone might have anticipated going into the meeting, including what in the modern Senate was a magnanimous gesture from Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware.

Rand Paul Flips, Will Support Mike Pompeo Nomination

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attends a Senate Foreign Relations committee markup in Dirksen Building on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state on April 23, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rand Paul, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a series of tweets sent just before the panel was scheduled to gavel into session, that he would support the nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.

“Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State,” Paul said

Senate Panel Tees Up Mueller Protection Bill Despite Headwinds
McConnell indicates measure won’t reach Senate floor

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, pictured here with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says the views of Majority Mitch McConnell are important but do not govern what happens in the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say they want to act on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III — even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially killed it by saying it won’t make it to the floor.

They then spoke to the natural follow-up question: Why bother?

Corker Releases AUMF Without an Expiration Date
Prospects for approval uncertain with expected opposition within Foreign Relations panel

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is not concerned that the new force authorization measure does not have a commitment from leadership for a floor vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-awaited draft authorization to set new guidelines on the 17-year-old war on terrorism was released Monday night by senators and, to the displeasure of some Democrats, it would not impose significant restrictions on military operations, such as an expiration date.

The bipartisan Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2018 would repeal and replace the 2001 AUMF, which has been increasingly criticized for its expansive justification of all kinds of military actions against extremist groups that did not exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The new AUMF would also repeal the 2002 authorization that enabled the 2003 Iraq War.

Mueller Protection Bill Faces Political, Procedural Headwinds
Judiciary Committee looks at consideration of bill in two weeks

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is preparing his committee for a vote on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee appears poised to vote in two weeks on a bill that would give job protections to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even as President Donald Trump asserted again Thursday that he has the authority to fire the man investigating connections between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Thursday’s discussion revealed how the bill still faces potential political hazards at the Judiciary Committee. Democrats have raised concerns about a yet-to-be-seen amendment that Republicans want to add to the measure. Some Republicans have concerns about the constitutionality of a bill that would limit a president’s ability to make personnel decisions in the executive branch.