Dan Coats

Democratic Leaders Request FBI Funding to Stop Russian Influence in Midterms
Also call for release of public report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer make their way to the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Key Democratic lawmakers urged Republican leadership Wednesday to include additional FBI funding in the fiscal 2018 spending bill to combat possible Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections.

The request comes after the Justice Department charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies Friday over alleged attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Senate Intel Leaders Look for Better Security Before 2018 Primaries
DNI testifies about importance of public information on Russian election meddling

FBI Director Christopher Wray, left, shakes hands with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr before a Tuesday hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee hope to make their findings public on improving election security before primary contests get underway.

That’s what panel Chairman Richard M. Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said Tuesday in wrapping up the open portion of the annual hearing on “Worldwide Threats.”

Ahead of FISA Vote, Trump Sows Confusion
House Dems see ‘latest example’ of Trump ‘undermining’ security

President Donald Trump walks from the Oval Office to speak with members of the press while departing the White House last Friday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump sent mixed signals Thursday morning about a controversial law used to collect intelligence on individuals suspected of spying on the United States just hours before the House is slated to vote on reauthorizing it. And a key privacy hawk in Congress contends the president is more in line with him than the White House lets on.

For nearly two hours, the commander in chief even broke with his own White House’s stance on whether the law should remain on the books. But in an apparent clean-up operation, Trump was forced to fire off a tweet declaring this of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: “We need it!”

HHS Pick at Odds With Trump’s Rhetoric on Drug Prices
Alex Azar previously led Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations

Alex Azar is President Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary. (Screenshot/Veeva Systems/YouTube)

President Donald Trump’s tweet Monday announcing former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services boasted that Azar “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”

But Azar, who led drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co.’s United States operations from 2012 until earlier this year, has contributed significantly to the pharmaceutical industry political spending that the president has decried.

New Foreign Surveillance Bill Would Boost Privacy Protections
Top House Judiciary leaders reached decision last week

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and ranking member John Conyers Jr. introduced the so-called USA Liberty Act on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and the panel’s top Democrat Rep. John Conyers Jr. reached agreement last week on a new bill that would tighten privacy protections in a surveillance law considered vital by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The bill’s attempt to shore up civil liberties runs contrary to what the White House and intelligence agencies have sought, and is likely to face opposition from a group of national security hawks in the Senate who back the Trump administration position.

Congress Braces for Tense Debate on Surveillance Law
Spy agencies argue for permanent reauthorization of FISA amendments

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is sponsoring legislation to reauthorize the 2012 FISA amendments with no sunsets. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are facing a potentially bruising fight over a surveillance law that expires Dec. 31 and must be extended in time to preserve what U.S. spy agencies consider a vital piece of their arsenal.

Congress has to extend the 2012 FISA Amendments Act, which will pit the Trump administration and national security hawks in Congress who favor a permanent reauthorization with no changes, against lawmakers of both parties, libertarians, privacy advocates and communications companies seeking to tighten protections for U.S. persons whose communications may get caught up in the wide electronic net cast by spy agencies.

Pence’s History as Media Shield Advocate May Be at Odds With Justice Department
Vice president spoke of importance of free press and the First Amendment

Vice President Mike Pence authored multiple versions of media shield legislation while serving in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“The Constitution of the United States reads in part that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. This freedom represents a bedrock of our democracy by ensuring the free flow of information to the public. But, sadly, this freedom is under attack.”

Those were the words of a Republican congressman from Indiana, spoken on the House floor on March 14, 2006, proposing federal legislation to protect journalists, or a media shield.

Senate Looks Ahead to Tax, Debt Limit Debates After Recess
McConnell predicts reconciliation process for tax overhaul

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met Tuesday with Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on raising the debt limit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By NIELS LESNIEWSKI and JOE WILLIAMS

Tuesday might not be the last time the Senate leaders address reporters before departing for August recess, but their messages were already setting the stage for September.

Photos of the Week: Just Another 5 Days in D.C. — Not
The week of June 5 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

A crowd gathered at The Partisan bar watches as former FBI Director James B. Comey arrives to testify during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week was dominated by the anticipated appearance, actual appearance and analysis after the appearance of former FBI Director James B. Comey in front of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on Thursday. One day before that, Washington also watched current intelligence officials testify before the same congressional panel — the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election and what the president might have asked of his officials dominating the news cycle. 

Since the next steps of the investigation are in the hands of the special counsel and could take years to resolve, this week could go down as one of the most prominent in 2017.

Top Intelligence Officials Mum on Interactions With President
Coats, Rogers say they have never felt pressured on investigations

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The director of national intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency refused Wednesday to say whether President Donald Trump had asked them to get former FBI Director James B. Comey to curtail the bureau’s Russia investigation.

A series of recent news reports have fueled questions about whether the White House attempted to enlist senior U.S. intelligence officials to downplay the FBI’s probe into possible Trump campaign ties with Russia.