al franken

Why Mike Lee Won't Do Hallway Interviews

Lee says he won't be doing hallway interviews anymore. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mike Lee is no longer taking hallway interviews. While any senator might decline to answer a particular question (sometimes it's the wrong question, the wrong reporter or the wrong time), the Utah Republican, around September, joined a small group of senators who will not take questions from reporters in between points A and B, where most members of the press buttonhole lawmakers on any topic that comes to mind.  

Lee told CQ Roll Call — as part of a wide-ranging interview in his Senate office Thursday — that most questions thrown at him are generally not of the "yes" or "no" variety, and he said he felt he was often giving them short shrift.  

Oh Ya! Capitol Christmas Tree Gets Lit

The Capitol Christmas Tree is up and running. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Golden yellow hoodies dotted the West Lawn of the Capitol Tuesday, and a dark tree stood behind the children and adults wearing them. In the distance one could make out the white blur of the Washington monument through the cold mist that hung in the air.  

After speeches from Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., among others, a switch was flipped and the 88-foot tall Minnesota white spruce glittered for the first time as the Capitol Christmas Tree. "Do you know how many years it takes to grow an 88-foot tree?" Franken asked the crowd of several hundred, using the opportunity to return briefly to his comedic roots. "Neither do I." The tree had traveled more than 2,000 miles from its home in Minnesota.  

Wyden Continues to Blast Obama Administration on 'Backdoor' Surveillance (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden is raising additional concerns about "backdoor" queries of communications by American citizens by federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities.  

"I and other reformers in Congress have argued that intelligence agencies should absolutely be permitted to search for communications pertaining to counterterrorism and other foreign threats, but if intelligence officials are deliberately searching for and reading the communications of specific Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant," Wyden said in a statement. "The bipartisan, bicameral legislation that I and other reformers have supported would permit the government to conduct these searches pursuant to a probable cause warrant or emergency authorization, and it would include an exception for searches for individuals who are believed to be in danger."