Politics

Revealing Tales from the Election Interference Indictment
Russians Used Americans for ‘Discord’

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing investigation produced indictments Friday alleging election interference by Russian nationals. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Russian operatives allegedly kept an internal list of more than 100 real Americans, their political views and activities that they had been asked to perform by the Russians pretending to be grassroots political organizers.

The Justice Department used an indictment Friday to tell the story of some of those requests and the social media campaigns that the Russian operatives put together, enabling them to grow hundreds of thousands of online followers.

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.

Womack Picks Bush White House Veteran as Budget Staff Director
Dan Keniry will replace Rick May and start on Feb. 20

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., picked Dan Keniry to replace Rick May as Budget Committee director. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dan Keniry, a lobbyist and former legislative aide, has been named the new staff director of the House Budget Committee and will start Feb. 20.

Keniry was deputy assistant for legislative affairs to President George W. Bush, where he was principal liaison to the House. Keniry earlier worked as staff director of the House Rules Committee and a senior floor assistant to then-Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Democrats Push Bill They Say Could Have Prevented Parkland Shooting
Measure would provide states grants for passing Gun Violence Restraining Order laws

California Rep. Salud Carbajal and other House Democrats are pushing a bill in the wake of a Florida high school shooting that would reward states that create laws to allow courts to authorize temporary removal of guns when an individual poses a threat to themselves or others. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of House Democrats on Friday highlighted a bill they’ve authored that they say could have prevented Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead.

The bill would authorize a federal grant program for states that enact Gun Violence Restraining Order, or GVRO, laws. These statutes allow law enforcement or family members to petition courts to temporarily remove guns from a person’s possession if they pose a threat to themselves or others. If passed, a separate appropriation measure would be needed to provide the funding for the grants.

GOP Unlikely to Revisit Spending Ban on Gun Violence Research
Congress has restricted such endeavors for more than two decades

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says it was “just not helpful to turn a funding bill into a debate over gun control.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans, at least for now, appear unlikely to allow federal funds for research on gun violence after a nearly 22-year prohibition.

Following yet another mass shooting on Wednesday, at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead, two key Republican appropriators said Thursday they don’t anticipate removing or altering an amendment in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using injury prevention research dollars “to advocate or promote gun control.”

Grand Jury Indicts Russian Nationals for Election Interference
Operatives targeted Clinton, Rubio and Cruz, while largely supporting Trump and Sanders

The office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Friday announced indictments of Russian nationals for election interference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:25 p.m. | The Justice Department charged Russian operatives Friday with a sweeping effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, spending millions of dollars to wage social media campaigns, buy political advertisements and pose as grass-roots organizers to spark political rallies on American soil.

The grand jury criminal indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies landed like a bombshell in Washington, where the debate has raged over the extent of Russia’s influence in the election while President Donald Trump has waged a campaign to quell special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Schiff Says He Fears Mueller’s Findings Won’t Become Public
Top Intelligence Committee Democrat concerned about politicized decision-making

House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff is concerned the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 election won’t be made public. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The complete findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections may not become public when the probe is completed, California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday.

“One of the issues I have raised with the deputy attorney general” Rod Rosenstein is “how are we going to deal with this when the investigations come to an end?” Schiff said, referring to findings of the Mueller probe. “Will there be a report to Congress and what will Bob Mueller be able to disclose publicly?”

House Budget Being Drafted Despite Nearly Insurmountable Obstacles
Topline spending levels, no path to reconciliation among reasons lawmakers to oppose

Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., is writing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution despite major obstacles to passing it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Obstacles to House Republicans passing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution appear insurmountable and have some members questioning why the Budget Committee is even planning to write one. 

Exactly half of the 22 Republicans on the Budget panel — more than enough to block a partisan budget resolution — voted against last week’s budget deal that set fiscal 2019 topline spending levels of $647 billion for defense and $597 billion for nondefense. Under the agreement, House and Senate leaders committed that if their chambers decide to advance fiscal 2019 budget resolutions, they would write them to those topline numbers.

Hoyer Heads to Rust Belt on Second ‘Listening Tour’
House minority whip will stop in Pittsburgh, Toledo and Indianapolis

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is going on a listening tour this weekend to talk about entrepreneurship, education and infrastructure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Democrats try to fine tune their economic message heading into this year’s midterms, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is hitting the road this weekend for his second “Make It in America” listening tour.

Starting Saturday and continuing through Tuesday, the Maryland Democrat will travel to Pittsburgh, followed by Toledo, Ohio, and finally Indianapolis with members of his House caucus. He’ll be meeting with small groups to talk about entrepreneurship, infrastructure and education.

Trump’s Two Personas on Full Display After Shooting
President hints he will visit with families of victims this weekend

Students are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after a shooting there left 17 dead. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The two public personas of Donald Trump were on full display Friday morning, illustrated by a pair of tweets posted just a dozen minutes apart.

In the first social media post, the president flashed the somber side he has shown in the midst of some national tragedies and disasters since he took office. Trump suggested he will be meeting with family members and others affected by the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, over the long Presidents Day weekend.

Democratic, Republican Responses to Parkland School Shooting Vary Wildly
‘Part of it is a love affair with guns,’ New York Republican Peter King says

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., criticized his GOP colleagues for their response to the Parkland shooting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Democrats renewed calls this week for broader background checks and an end to military-grade weapons access, at least a handful of GOP congressmen agreed.

They remained cynical, though, that any substantive measures would pass into law.

Mitt Romney Announces Utah Senate Run
Onetime GOP presidential nominee will make a bid for Hatch’s open seat

Mitt Romney is running for Senate in Utah. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will run for Senate in Utah.

“I am running for United States Senate because in these trying times there is no better moment to bring Utah’s values to Washington,” Romney said in a statement. “Utah’s economic and political success is a model for our nation; I am ready to fight for this great state and advocate for solutions that improve the lives of Utahns.”

Huffman Wants Investigation Into Trump Lawyer’s Payment to Porn Star
California Democrat wants to know if Trump campaign tried to ‘evade the fundamental disclosure requirements’

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ receipt of a $130,000 payment from President Donald Trump’s lawyer should be investigated, California Rep. Jared Huffman says. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images file photo)

California Rep. Jared Huffman wants the Justice Department to investigate a payment made to an adult film actress to keep silent about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Democratic lawmaker pointed to a New York Times report that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitted he paid Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, $130,000 out of his own pocket.

Lipinkski Wants Investigation Into Conservative Think Tank
Illinois congressman wants to know if CEO used money from Illinois Policy Institute to benefit for-profit companies

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., wants an investigation into the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski wants the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank. 

Lipinski sent a letter asking the IRS to explore whether CEO John Tillman used money from the institute to benefit for-profit companies, according to ProPublica.