Dianne Feinstein

How a Capitol Hill staffer and a James Bond screenwriter dramatized ‘The Report’
Political Theater, Episode 101

Journalists follow Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein as she leaves her office on her way to the chamber floor to speak about the CIA torture report being released by the committee on on Dec. 9, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report in 2014 was a compelling episode in American history, detailing as it did the CIA’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists and their lack of effectiveness. That doesn’t mean the seven-year investigation that led to the report automatically lends itself to high drama, particularly when one considers that many of those seven years were spent reading sensitive CIA documents in a windowless room. That makes the new movie “The Report” that much more of an accomplishment.

Director and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns had his work cut out for him, constructing a political thriller out of the efforts led by Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel J. Jones. Burns and Jones explained some of thinking that went into the film’s narrative, as well as the issues it explores, in the latest Political Theater podcast with CQ Roll Call senior staff writer Niels Lesniewski and me. 

Senate talks on crafting bipartisan Violence Against Women Act break down
Iowa's Ernst to push her own bill, calls House version ‘nonstarter’

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Thursday that talks with Democrats on a bipartisan update to the Violence Against Women Act have dissolved. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bipartisan Senate talks over a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act fell apart this week, Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said in a floor speech Thursday.

Ernst said she’ll introduce her own version of the bill that can pass the Republican-controlled Senate and gain the support of President Donald Trump. The House, controlled by Democrats, passed a version of the bill in April.

Trump administration shows up to USA Freedom hearing without answers to key questions about data collection
Mike Lee threatens monthly hearings after Justice Department remains not responsive to letter

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, suggested the Senate may need monthly hearings on FISA authorities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators expressed their displeasure Wednesday with the Trump administration’s inability to answer questions about the National Security Agency’s collection of call data records at a Judiciary Committee hearing. 

And one senator went so far as to suggest monthly hearings on foreign intelligence surveillance powers.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 5
Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine quid pro quo; investigators want to hear from Mulvaney

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives at the Capitol for his deposition on Oct. 17. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, revised his initial testimony significantly, amending it to say he told a top Ukrainian official that the country would “likely” not receive military aid unless it announced investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals, according to a transcript released Tuesday by the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

In an amendment to his transcribed testimony, Sondland said his recollections were “refreshed” after reviewing opening statements from diplomats William Taylor and Tim Morrison.

Ratings update: No change for California seat Katie Hill is giving up
Little indication the GOP can win a district that backed Hillary Clinton by 7 points

California Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation sets up a competitive race for the 25th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic House member resigns, but is it really at risk of a Republican takeover?

Less than a year after getting elected to Congress, Rep. Katie Hill announced her resignation from California’s 25th District amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with staffers. On one hand, it’s easy to see why Republicans might be excited about the special election, considering they held the seat for a quarter of a century not that long ago. But there’s little indication that it’s currently a serious GOP opportunity.

Senators seek GOP support for bill to crack down on anonymous shell companies
Bill seeks to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to hide assets and launder money

Senate Banking Chairman Mickael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, and ranking Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio say they are working on a version of the bill they hope can gain more GOP support than its House counterpart. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After only 25 House Republicans voted for passage of a bill that would curb the use of anonymous shell companies, the bipartisan drafters of a Senate version are negotiating tweaks designed to win more GOP support.

The House on Tuesday voted 249-173 to pass its version of the bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, after adding the text of another bill from Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri that would update the nation’s anti-money laundering laws.

White House warns Turkey it might ‘shut down’ its economy over Kurdish strikes
Trump to sign order giving himself ‘very significant authorities’ to impose stiff sanctions

President Donald Trump welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey outside the West Wing of the White House in 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Treasury Steven Mnuchin announced Friday that President Donald Trump has given himself broad new sanctions powers to slap “primary and secondary sanctions” on senior Turkish officials over that government’s military strikes in Syria, which were enabled by the U.S. pullback of its own troops.

Mnuchin described the powers, which Trump will codify later Friday via an executive order, as “very significant authorities.” The EO will not, however, put new sanctions in place.

Senate Intelligence Committee in focus on C-SPAN and the big screen this fall
Don’t mess with the intel panel

Annette Bening plays former Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein in the upcoming political thriller “The Report.” (Courtesy MovieStillsDB)

It’s going to be a big couple of months for the Senate Intelligence Committee, both on Capitol Hill and at the box office.

Chairman Richard M. Burr and ranking Democrat Mark Warner find themselves once again at the epicenter of the biggest political story in Washington, tasked with leading the Senate’s review of President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine that seem all but certain to result in impeachment by the House.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 8
The latest on the impeachment inquiry

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff speaks to reporters in the Capitol after learning the State Department blocked U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from testifying to the committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The 11th-hour cancellation of testimony of a key player in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump threw Democrats into an uproar with one suggesting it was another piece of evidence of the president obstructing justice.

The Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Tuesday evening made good on a plan to subpoena Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, for his testimony and documents.

House vote likely on creation of women’s history museum
‘If every woman gave a $1, we’d have this built in no time,’ Carolyn Maloney says

Members of the American Equal Rights Association pose for a photograph at their executive committee meeting. Advocates for a national women’s history museum see 2020 — the 100th anniversary of the the ratification of the 19th Amendment — as a rallying point for its creation. (Courtesy Library of Congress)

For 20 years, proponents in and out of Congress have sought the creation of a national museum devoted to women’s history, and a new bipartisan push will likely get the matter a vote in the House this fall.

Last month, a bill to establish such a museum crossed the 290 co-sponsorship threshold that allows for fast-track floor consideration under what is known as the consensus calendar. The measure could be scheduled for a vote by November.