intelligence

In Oversight Role, House Democrats Aim for Both Check and Balance
Investigating the president carries risks for incoming House majority

Incoming House Oversight ranking member Elijah E. Cummings envisions a two-pronged approach to investigating President Donald Trump — focusing on his personal business dealings, including whether they implicate the president’s campaign in colluding with Russia, and probing the “harm” he says Trump has inflicted on the foundations of American democracy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has seen the headlines. The 12-term Maryland Democrat, who in January will take control of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, knows he has the power to become President Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. For now, he’s taking a more measured approach.

“A nightmare has to be in the eyes of the beholder,” Cummings said in a recent interview. “If a nightmare comes with me doing my job that I’m sworn to do, so be it.”

No Chief Out of ‘Central Casting’ This Time for ‘Unmanageable’ Trump
President needs a Hill-savvy ‘trench warfare specialist,’ GOP strategist says

President Donald Trump arrives for meeting with the House Republican Conference at the Capitol on Nov. 16, 2017. Outgoing White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly trails behind his boss and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump had been in office just a few minutes when he boasted that John F. Kelly looked like a military general straight out of a Hollywood movie, but now the president is holding a likely extended casting call for a more loyal chief of staff — one who will immediately have to navigate a thicket of congressional and federal investigations. 

As Trump searches for what will be his third top aide in two years, Republican insiders see no frontrunner or even a clear list of candidates. But what they really cannot determine is who could coexist with a chief executive who rejects his staff’s attempts to manage him and his bombastic, norms-busting approach to the job.

FBI Details Intelligence Staffer Probe Ahead of Sentencing
Sentencing hearing for James Wolfe scheduled on Dec. 20

James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide, leaves the FBI’s Washington Field Office after being booked on June 11. A sentencing hearing for Wolfe is scheduled for Dec. 20.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The FBI faced a dilemma and had to take “extraordinary” actions when it realized in 2017 that the former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee appeared compromised in his role safeguarding information and had a clandestine relationship with a national security journalist.

Had James Wolfe been an executive branch employee, the FBI would have notified intelligence agencies if a Top Secret clearance holder was compromised so they could protect national security, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday.

Senators Urge No Prison Time for Intelligence Committee Aide Who Lied to FBI
Prosecutors, on other hand, recommend two years in prison for James Wolfe

Senators urged leniency for former Senate Intelligence Committee James Wolfe, who lied to the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While federal prosecutors on Tuesday recommended a two-year prison sentence for James Wolfe, a former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee who pleaded guilty in October to a charge he lied to the FBI about his contacts with journalists, his former bosses urged the judge to show mercy. 

A letter to the judge from current committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, top Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, and former chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California urged no prison time for Wolfe, who was director of security for nearly three decades.

Three Takeaways as Trump Picks Former Fox Anchor for UN Envoy Post
President makes clear he’s running foreign policy, wants salesperson in New York

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) speaks with staff, including spokeswoman Heather Nauert, President Trump's pick for UN ambassador, during a G-20 summit last week in Argentina. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha / Public Domain via Flickr)

By selecting State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as his next UN ambassador, President Donald Trump has further consolidated his control of America’s foreign policy.

“Heather Nauert will be nominated for the ambassador to the United Nations,” Trump told reporters on his way to Marine One on Friday.

Trump Lashes Out at Mueller Ahead of Potentially Damaging Court Filings
Special counsel, federal prosecutors set to release documents on Manafort, Cohen

President Donald Trump lashed out at special counsel Robert S. Mueller III just hours before he is slated to show some cards in his Russia probe that could damage the president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:55 a.m. | President Donald Trump launched what amounted to a preemptive strike in his fight to shape public opinion about Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe just hours before the special counsel is expected to release telling documents about his findings.

Trump's approval rating is back around 40 percent and could take a further hit when the documents are released if they show Mueller and other federal prosecutors are turning their sights on him. Legal experts have said in recent days that as more and more evidence comes out in official documents, the more it appears Mueller and others are looking hard at “Individual 1,” legal parlance they say clearly refers to Trump.

Richard Burr: ‘If You Lie to Us, We’re Going to Go After You’
Senate Intelligence chairman alludes to Mueller plea agreement with Michael Cohen

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, right, appeared with Vice Chairman Mark Warner on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr said that Thursday’s guilty plea by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney, should be seen as a clear warning.

“It’s a loud message to everybody that is interviewed by our committee, regardless of where that prosecution comes from: If you lie to us, we’re going to go after you,” Burr said Friday. “Our mandate is at the end of this to get as close to the clear truth as we possibly can, and we can’t do it on conjecture. We’ve got to do it on facts.”

Cohen Among Select Few Charged With Lying to Congress
House Democrats poised to use ex-Trump lawyer’s plea as basis to target others

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating the criminal statute, Section 1001 of Title 18, by lying to Congress via a letter to Senate and House Intelligence committees and during testimony before the Senate panel last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress in violation of a law known for ensnaring celebrities, sports figures and other defendants in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe — but this time in a way that could reverberate in congressional investigations next year.

Those convicted or who pleaded guilty to violating the criminal statute, Section 1001 of Title 18, include television personality Martha Stewart, politicians such as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and, in the Russia probe, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

Trump Calls Former ‘Fixer’ Cohen a ‘Weak Person’ After Changing Moscow Story
Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about efforts to get Putin’s help on project

President Donald Trump blasted his former “fixer” and attorney Michael Cohen after he admitted to lying to Congress about a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday called his former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen a “weak person” who admitted to lying to Congress in order to receive a lighter prison sentence.

“He’s a weak person” unlike “other people that you watch,” the president said as he departed the White House for a G-20 summit in Argentina. “So he’s lying about a project that everyone knew about. … So he’s lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence.”

Fact Check: Trump Appears to Again Exaggerate Cost of Mueller Probe
Special counsel’s costs would have had to more than double in six months

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, right, arrives on Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. President Trump slammed the special prosecutor anew on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Something about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation struck a nerve with Donald Trump Thursday morning, but the president appeared to exaggerate the cost of the probe.

The president has been inflating numbers for years, before and after he became the primary occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.