Politics

Kavanaugh Accuser Rejects Proposal for Monday Senate Judiciary Hearing
Lawyers sent a letter to Judiciary Chairman Grassley, encouraging an FBI review first

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley had scheduled a hearing Monday to hear from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 10:28 p.m. | Lawyers representing Christine Blasey Ford, the alleged victim of a sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh decades ago, are rejecting the idea of an open hearing in less than a week from now.

Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, the lawyers representing Ford, said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa that plan to hold a hearing on Monday, Sept. 24., was not going to work for their client. A copy of the letter was posted by CNN on Tuesday evening. 

Understanding the Constitution Is Hard, This New Website Helps Explain
Cornell University Legal Information Center introduces searchable version of Constitution Annotated

The Constitution of the United States is stored under glass in the rotunda of the National Archives. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Want to know the parameters of a president’s pardoning power? What about the definition of the emoluments clause? Or what constitutes an impeachable offense?

The Supreme Court decisions that have informed such constitutional questions — all hot topics during the Trump administration— are now easily searchable thanks to a new project by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School.

EPA Watchdog to Step Down as Scott Pruitt Probes Continue
Arthur Elkins had contradicted the former administrator’s account of his security detail

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies during a hearing in May. The inspector general who led multiple investigations of his spending habits is retiring this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA’s inspector general, who led multiple investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management practices at the agency, will leave in October, his office announced Tuesday.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has been EPA inspector general since 2010, said in a news release that he will retire on Oct. 12, but did not indicate whether his departure is related to issues at the agency. Before becoming inspector general, Elkins worked as associate general counsel in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel.

Mark Judge, Possible Witness to Alleged Brett Kavanaugh Sexual Assault, Does Not Want to Testify
“I did not ask to be involved in this matter nor did anyone ask me to be involved”

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 6. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The third person identified by Christine Blasey Ford as having been present in the room during what she alleged was a sexual assault by Judge Brett Kavanaugh wants no part of the Judiciary Committee proceedings.

“I did not ask to be involved in this matter nor did anyone ask me to be involved,” Judge said in a statement relayed to the committee by his lawyer.

Court Bucks Chief Justice, Sheds Light on Dark Money Donors
Justices denied stay of lower court ruling requiring donor disclosure

The Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision paved the way for super PACs and other avenues of political money. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Some political groups may no longer be able to hide the identities of their donors after the full Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a decision by Chief Justice John G. Roberts that had stopped a lower court ruling requiring the disclosures.

The full court, which has eight members at the moment, denied an application for a stay — or delay — of the lower court ruling in a case involving the conservative group Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which has been fighting since 2012 a lawsuit demanding that it disclose its donors.

Trump Focuses on Kavanaugh’s Resume, Family — Not Accuser
‘This is not a man who deserves this,’ president says

President Donald Trump said Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh is a “gentleman” and expressed empathy for what he and his family are going through — but he did not offer the same to his accuser. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has called for the FBI to investigate his political foes, but on Tuesday he signaled he will let bureau leaders decide whether to look into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

His comments revealed much about the White House and Senate Republicans’ emerging strategy: Focus on Kavanaugh, his career, his professional relationship with women and his family — but do not attack Ford. And do everything they can to keep the nomination in solid enough shape for a floor vote in the coming weeks to tip the balance of the high court to the 5-4 conservative majority the party has eyed for a decade.

Future of U.S. Military in Syria Decision Coming Soon, Trump Says
Calls out Russian plane downing

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on January 30, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kavanaugh ‘Anxious’ to Testify, Trump Says
President says he will not order FBI to look at allegations facing Supreme Court nominee

President Donald Trump smiles during his State of the Union address on Jan. 30. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/POOL photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is “anxious” to defend himself before senators next week, and said the FBI should not investigate sexual misconduct allegations the nominee is facing.

Trump could order the FBI to look into the allegations, which date back to a 1982 high school party, ahead of a much-anticipated Senate hearing Monday. But he signaled Tuesday he will not do so.

Public-Facing Congressional Research Reports Site Launches to Criticism
crsreports.congress.gov went live on time, but with a number of shortcomings

A new Congressional Research Service website with public reports is now live. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress’ in-house research division has moved to make more of its reports public, as required by law, but the new website is already drawing criticism.

Under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill, the Congressional Research Service had to publish all nonconfidential reports on a public website operated by the Library of Congress. The website went live Tuesday, meeting the deadline set by appropriators.

Spending Vote Deal and No Brett Kavanaugh Markup Means Quick Senate Exit
Senators set to vote to fund government through at least Dec. 7

Reporters question Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process as he returns to his office from the Senate floor on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators made another quick exit from the Capitol on Tuesday.

The chamber was always going to be closed for business Wednesday, in observance of Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Tuesday. But getting the next two-bill spending package done and ready for the House next week could easily move up the departure.

Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce Snubbed by Brother in New Ad
Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC put out the ad in speaker’s home district

James Bryce, the brother of Wisconsin Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce, endorsed his brother’s opponent, Bryan Steil, a former aide to Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. (CLFSuperPAC/YouTube)

Strangers from around the country have poured millions of dollars into Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce’s campaign after his video announcing a grass-roots bid against Speaker Paul D. Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st District went viral.

But the “Iron Stache,” as he has been nicknamed on the web, has not managed to secure the support of someone much closer to home: his brother.

Scary Moment for Rep. Chris Stewart at Debate
‘Vaccines cause autism!’ man shouts into Utah rep’s microphone

Utah's 2nd District candidates for Congress Shireen Ghorbani and U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart participate in a debate on Monday in St. George, Utah. (Chris Caldwell/The Spectrum via AP, Pool)

Police arrested a man Monday after he walked onstage and interrupted GOP Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah at a debate with Democratic opponent Shireen Ghorbani.

Law enforcement arrested Corbin Cox McMillen and charged him with disorderly conduct and interrupting a political meeting, a Class B misdemeanor, for leaning into Stewart’s microphone during his closing statement and loudly stating a conspiracy theory about a connection between vaccines and autism, according to KUTV in Utah.

Obscure Pentagon Fund Nets $2B, Sets Pork Senses Tingling
Program prompts complaints of ‘jurassic pork’ as some see earmarks by another name

Where supporters see a way to bankroll innovate programs that the military may not even know it needs, critics see pork by another name. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon will soon have received about $2.3 billion in the last nine years — money the military never requested — for a special fund intended to help replace earmarks after Congress banned them, our analysis shows.

Buried deep inside the $674.4 billion Defense spending measure for fiscal 2019 that the Senate is expected to vote on this week is a chart with one line showing a $250 million appropriation for the Defense Rapid Innovation Fund, the latest installment of sizable funding for a largely unknown program that quietly disburses scores of contracts every year.

Why It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid
With growth up, unemployment down, voters are focusing on other issues

National Republicans are hoping the strong economy will boost candidates like Jim Hagedorn, their nominee in Minnesota’s 1st District, seen here campaigning Sunday at the Applefest parade in La Crescent, Minn. However, public polling shows the economy is not at the top of voters’ concerns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a web video entitled “Better Off Now.” According to NRCC communications director Matt Gorman, who was quoted in the accompanying press release, “November comes down to one question: Are Americans better off now than they were two years ago?” That might be what Republicans want, but it is not likely to be voters’ sole motivation as they cast their ballots. 

According to Gorman, voters will “keep Republicans in the majority.” The economy certainly is good, and there is no reason to believe that will change before November.

Primary Challengers Aren’t Always More Partisan in Congress
Some successors have been more willing to work across the aisle

Ayanna Pressley defeated Rep. Michael E. Capuano in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 7th District earlier this month. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

It’s often said that conservative challenges to Republican incumbents in primary elections — the prime example being Dave Brat’s victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 — have led to more polarization in Congress, with the challengers less willing to compromise than their predecessors.

Now that two incumbent Democrats, Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts on Sept. 4 and Joseph Crowley of New York in June, have fallen to upstart challengers, it raises the question whether the phenomenon has now spread to the Democratic Party, foreboding even more dysfunction at the Capitol.