‘A recipe for disaster’? Trump’s border emergency drags the GOP into a risky fight ahead of 2020.


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House Democrats to challenge Trump’s emergency declaration; Republicans divided on action


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Impeachment cries cloud Democrats’ vow to leave Mueller alone


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Before taking power, House Democrats vowed to give special counsel Robert Mueller the space needed to finish his work. Just four weeks in, however, sticking to that pledge is proving difficult.

The possible clashes will be on display Tuesday morning when the new Democratic House caucus meets for the first time this year to discuss Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, a probe with no clear end in sight and ever-expanding subplots.

For Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic committee leaders, the uncertainty surrounding the special counsel’s work presents a major challenge for keeping their liberal, rabble-rousing members in check — not to mention a hungry party base that believes Trump should have been impeached the day after his inauguration.

For now, the Democrats say they are proceeding on two tracks: Letting Mueller pursue criminal charges like the ones unsealed Friday against longtime Trump associate Roger Stone;

Continue reading “Impeachment cries cloud Democrats’ vow to leave Mueller alone”

Nadler pledges not to blindside GOP with subpoenas


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A top House Democratic investigator has agreed not to throw any surprise subpoenas in his oversight of the Trump administration, in a rare bipartisan gesture toward Republicans.

At a panel organizational meeting late last week, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) agreed to consult with his GOP counterpart for two days before issuing a subpoena to force witnesses to testify. Should ranking Republican Doug Collins of Georgia object, Nadler said he would put the subpoena to a vote of the committee.

With a majority on the panel, Democrats would easily prevail on any subpoena question that goes before the full committee — and both parties agree there will likely be many. But Republicans like Collins are singing Nadler’s praises just the same.

“I want to thank you for agreeing to an unprecedented level of transparency,” the Georgia Republican wrote in a Monday letter to the New York Democrat. Continue reading “Nadler pledges not to blindside GOP with subpoenas”

Rep. Jackson Lee relinquishes top posts amid lawsuit fallout


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House Democrats are sidelining Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee as she battles a lawsuit claiming that she retaliated against and fired a former employee who alleged rape by a colleague.

The Texas Democrat agreed to resign from chairing the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Congressional Black Caucus, after coming under fire from fellow board members and outside groups, sources confirmed to POLITICO. Initially, Jackson Lee refused to give in to demands that she resign, prompting one board member to step down in protest and others to look at how they could force her out.

Over the weekend, however, Jackson Lee changed her mind after the board threatened to vote to forcibly remove her, according to two sources familiar with those conversations.

Likewise, senior Democratic lawmakers told Jackson Lee she must relinquish her prized subcommittee gavel on the high-profile House Judiciary Committee. If she refused, lawmakers told her Continue reading “Rep. Jackson Lee relinquishes top posts amid lawsuit fallout”

House Dems launch investigation into Trump administration’s use of security clearances


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House Democratic investigators launched a probe on Wednesday into the Trump administration’s use of security clearances and temporary security clearances, accusing the White House of playing fast and loose with the nation’s most guarded secrets.

Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings laid out several lines of inquiry on the matter in a letter to the White House, naming former national security adviser Michael Flynn and top officials who he wrote should have raised red flags.

The panel will press the White House to provide Congress with information about how and why it issued some security clearances, which Democrats note is required under federal law. Democrats have said the White House has so far refused to provide that information. Several inquiries on the same issue went unanswered by the administration last year.

“The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures Continue reading “House Dems launch investigation into Trump administration’s use of security clearances”

Lanny Davis pushed Cohen to testify before Congress, GOP lawmakers say


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Two top Republicans said on Tuesday that Michael Cohen’s spokesman Lanny Davis told the committee that he “pushed” Cohen to testify before the House Oversight Committee.

“This was my idea; nobody else’s,” Davis said, according to Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who wrote to Cohen’s attorney in a letter obtained by POLITICO. Jordan is the top Republican on the Oversight Committee.

Cohen intends to share “anecdotes” about his time working for President Donald Trump when he appears before the House Oversight Committee next month, but will be unable to speak about ongoing investigations relating to the president, Davis told the committee’s Republican staff.

The letter, addressed to Cohen’s attorney Guy Petrillo, outlines Republicans’ concerns about the purpose of Cohen’s scheduled appearance before the committee on Feb. 7. Jordan and Meadows used Davis’ answers to question whether Cohen’s testimony would represent a “media stunt initiated, produced, Continue reading “Lanny Davis pushed Cohen to testify before Congress, GOP lawmakers say”

Cohen’s adviser presses lawmakers on safety concerns after Trump attacks


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A legal representative for Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen expressed concern to congressional investigators this week about his clients’ safety and urged Republicans to rein in the president’s attacks on his former fixer.

Lanny Davis, Cohen’s legal adviser and spokesman, traveled to Capitol Hill in recent days to discuss security and other logistical issues in meetings with House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Democratic committee aides. He said he pressed Republicans on Trump’s repeated tweets about Cohen’s family — particularly his client’s father-in-law — urging them to get their party leader to tone down his rhetoric about Cohen.

“I’m very concerned about the president of the United States acting like a mobster,” Davis said in a short phone interview Friday, just before an MSNBC appearance. “It’d not be any difference if the ‘don’ called somebody telling the truth a ‘rat’ and attacked the family Continue reading “Cohen’s adviser presses lawmakers on safety concerns after Trump attacks”

‘She’s satin and steel’: Pelosi wages war on Trump


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Donald Trump may have finally met his match in Nancy Pelosi.

As the partial government shutdown grinds on with no end in sight, the struggle between the president and the speaker is becoming an unprecedented political fight — with the fallout likely to extend far beyond this episode.

Pelosi privately refers to Trump as the “whiner in chief." She’s questioned his manhood. She calls out Trump’s lies to his face and openly wonders whether he’s fit for the job. She mocks Trump for his privileged upbringing and his lack of empathy for the less fortunate. She jokes with other senior Democrats that if the American public saw how Trump acts in private, they’d “want to make a citizen’s arrest.”

And by proposing Trump reschedule the annual State of the Union address until the government shutdown is over, as she did Wednesday, Pelosi has pulled her most aggressive gambit Continue reading “‘She’s satin and steel’: Pelosi wages war on Trump”

Pelosi asks Trump to reschedule SOTU because of the shutdown


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Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address — or deliver it in writing — as long as the government remains shut down.

Pelosi said the partial shutdown has hamstrung both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, potentially harming the security planning that precedes the primetime address.

"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th," Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump.

Publicly, Democrats plan to argue that the parties need to focus on addressing the shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history. They’re also concerned about security staff working through a major national Continue reading “Pelosi asks Trump to reschedule SOTU because of the shutdown”

Acting Attorney General Whitaker to testify before Congress in February


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<![CDATA[Embattled acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify before Congress on Feb. 8, setting up dual blockbuster hearings that week as House Democrats launch their much-awaited oversight into Donald Trump’s presidency.

The House Judiciary Committee announced Tuesday that Whitaker will appear one day after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testifies before the House Oversight Committee. The two hearings, both made-for-TV moments, will almost certainly create a headache for the president as special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into his 2016 presidential campaign enters its 20th month.

Oversight Democrats are expected to ask Cohen about Trump’s campaign-time payments to women alleging extramarital affairs with the president as well as his financial dealings with Russia. Judiciary Democrats will press Whitaker, once a fervent critic of special counsel Robert Mueller, about why he ignored ethics recommendations to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

Democrats have long suspected that Trump planted Whitaker at the Continue reading “Acting Attorney General Whitaker to testify before Congress in February”

House panel adds member after complaints from Hispanic Democrats


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House Democratic leaders are expanding the roster for the chamber’s coveted tax-writing panel after outcry from lawmakers about the lack of Hispanic representation on the committee.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a second-term Democrat from California, was tapped to join the ranks of the Ways and Means Committee on Monday night, nearly a week after leadership announced the Democratic slate for the panel.

The move comes after multiple Democrats voiced alarm about the lack of Latinos on Ways and Means, one of the most sought-after committees in the House. Without the addition of Gomez, Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) would have been the only Hispanic lawmaker on the committee out of two dozen Democrats.

“In terms of the increased diversity of the incoming class, we should have more Latinos on Ways and Means,” Sánchez told POLITICO.

“Adding Jimmy will be a good first step, but clearly we need to do more.”

Continue reading “House panel adds member after complaints from Hispanic Democrats”

Dems celebrate with Pelosi poised to win speakership


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Nancy Pelosi was poised to be elected speaker for the 116th Congress on Thursday, cementing her legacy and returning the longtime Democratic leader to the post she first held eight years ago.

Pelosi, the first and only woman to ever wield the speaker’s gavel, was celebrated in the leadup to the vote, which will make her the most prominent Democratic foil to President Donald Trump at a time when the new House majority is eager to take on the president.

"Let me be clear. House Democrats are down with NDP," House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said as he officially nominated Pelosi, whose maiden name is D’Alesandro, to the speakership. The Democratic side of the chamber erupted into a standing ovation.

The election will mark a triumphant return to the gavel for the California Democrat after a band of a dozen-plus rebels unsuccessfully tried to deny her Continue reading “Dems celebrate with Pelosi poised to win speakership”

The survivor: Nancy Pelosi makes history — again


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The past seven speakers of the House have lost their majority, been forced out by their own colleagues, or stepped down amid personal scandal. One of them — Nancy Pelosi — now has a second chance to rewrite her legacy.

On Thursday, the 78-year-old Pelosi will be the first person in more than six decades, since the legendary Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, to return to the speaker’s chair after losing it. She will be surrounded by children as she does so, a replay of an iconic moment from her January 2007 swearing-in ceremony as the first female speaker in history.

But Pelosi will also tie Rayburn on another front by becoming the oldest person ever elected speaker and the oldest to hold the post, a testament to both her staying power and the fact that her return engagement to the speakership will be limited.

Unlike her original go-round as speaker Continue reading “The survivor: Nancy Pelosi makes history — again”

Why Trump has spared Pelosi from his personal vitriol — so far


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When President Donald Trump took to Twitter last weekend to blame Democrats for the government shutdown, he notably bypassed his party’s favorite foil: Nancy Pelosi.

And when Fox News teed up a chance for the president to unload on Pelosi in a New Year’s Eve interview, noting that the Democratic leader was vacationing in Hawaii during the shutdown while Trump stayed in Washington, he didn’t take the bait.

His decision so far not to go after Pelosi personally, even as his top aides have blamed her for the shutdown, hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Capitol. Pelosi’s allies have viewed Trump’s restraint toward the incoming speaker as a sign that he’s looking beyond the shutdown in the hopes of notching some bipartisan wins this year — on infrastructure, perhaps, or prescription drug pricing.

Of course, Trump’s tone toward Pelosi could change on a dime given his penchant for pummeling adversaries and Continue reading “Why Trump has spared Pelosi from his personal vitriol — so far”

Federal workforce starts to feel pinch of prolonged shutdown


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The partial government shutdown entered its fifth day Wednesday with no signs of a breakthrough and hundreds of thousands of federal workers about to feel the pinch of a protracted standoff.

President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders aren’t currently negotiating directly, according to GOP and Democratic aides. Staff-level discussions are continuing, but there’s no indication that key players are ready to reach an accord.

Leaders from both parties fear that if a deal isn’t struck soon, the stalemate could easily drag on into mid-January. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is set to become speaker when Democrats take over the chamber on Jan. 3.

On the House side, leadership sources continue to argue that the onus is on the Senate to find a path forward. There were no calls or meetings between House GOP and Democratic leaders scheduled Wednesday. The House isn’t planning to return to Washington this Continue reading “Federal workforce starts to feel pinch of prolonged shutdown”

Government shutdown set to drag on with no deal in sight


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Federal workers woke up to to a partial government shutdown Saturday that could last through Christmas or even the New Year, according to multiple congressional sources, despite the appearance of progress towards a deal late Friday.

The gloomy outlook comes as one-quarter of the government entered shutdown mode at midnight, including nine Cabinet departments, several major agencies and roughly 800,000 federal workers who are impacted by the lapse in funding.

Trump canceled plans to fly to his Mar-A-Lago resort Saturday, with it unclear if or when the president will join his family in Florida for the holidays. But the Capitol was largely quiet, with no meetings among House and Senate leaders scheduled and most lawmakers gone.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that "productive talks" continued among President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and seemed Continue reading “Government shutdown set to drag on with no deal in sight”

‘I’m okay with a shutdown’: Inside the chaos of the House GOP’s last days


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House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows picked up the phone early Thursday morning and dialed up a frustrated Donald Trump for yet another pep talk.

The president was agitated over suggestions in the conservative media that he was caving on his border wall campaign promise. He had just taken to Twitter to downplay the importance of securing new wall funding before Christmas and suggested he’d fight for the wall next Congress — GOP leadership’s preferred strategy to avoid a shutdown.

But Meadows, who is close with the president and was recently in the running to be his next chief of staff, urged Trump to make a stand now before Democrats took the House in January — just as he had the night before and multiple times earlier in the week. Stick to your guns, the North Carolina Republican told the president, according to a source familiar with the conversation. We Continue reading “‘I’m okay with a shutdown’: Inside the chaos of the House GOP’s last days”

Progressives back Pelosi for speaker — in return for more power


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It wasn’t a coincidence that moments after Nancy Pelosi promised progressive House leaders more power in the next Congress, a host of liberal groups announced they were supporting her for speaker.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who is expected to co-chair the House Progressive Caucus next year, left a Thursday night meeting with Pelosi in the Capitol and proclaimed that her members would have more seats on powerful committees and more influence over legislation.

The Washington state Democrat then phoned MoveOn and Indivisible with the news, and they promptly tweeted out support for Pelosi. Then, on Friday morning, Jayapal, previously uncommitted on whom she would back for speaker, gave Pelosi a full-throated endorsement.

“No one can really doubt Pelosi’s progressive chops,” Jayapal told POLITICO in an interview. “And I do think, for the next two years, as we lead into 2020, and are coming off this big wave, we need someone who Continue reading “Progressives back Pelosi for speaker — in return for more power”

Pelosi on potential Fudge challenge: ‘Come on in’


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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sought to tamp down suggestions that her speakership bid was in trouble Thursday, brushing off the threat of a potential challenge by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio).

In fact, the California Democrat seemed to invite the former Congressional Black Caucus chair to jump into the race.

“Come on in, the water’s warm,” she said.

Pelosi’s comments come just hours after her critics said they had 17 names on a document vowing to vote against her on the House floor. POLITICO has verified the signatures of 11 of those lawmakers or candidates-elect, but the group has not released the letter publicly.

Pelosi downplayed the significance of the letter in part because her critics have refused to release the letter at this time.

“Have you seen the letter?” she asked reporters.

Pelosi maintained confidence that she would win a speakership bid if the election were held today.

Continue reading “Pelosi on potential Fudge challenge: ‘Come on in’”