Niels Lesniewski

Like McCain before him, Romney rebukes President Trump
2008 and 2012 presidential nominees have been most forceful GOP critics in the Senate

The greatest rebukes of Donald Trump’s presidency from the Republican side of the aisle have come from the two previous standard-bearers for the GOP.

When Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a freshman senator best known for being the 2012 Republican nominee for president, announced Wednesday on the Senate floor that he would vote to convict Trump of abuse of power, it evoked memories of the time when the late Arizona Sen. John McCain voted in 2017 to thwart the president’s desired repeal of the 2010 health care law.

Could Trump’s acquittal spell the end of White Houses honoring congressional subpoenas?
Some Senate Democrats are concerned it could set a new precedent

Congress may have issued its last successful subpoenas to a president of the opposite party, some senators worry, now that President Donald Trump is acquitted of the House’s obstruction of Congress charge.

The argument is that the 47-53 vote Wednesday to reject the second article of impeachment lessened the legislative branch’s power to oversee the executive branch and complicates ongoing litigation on the power of a congressional subpoena. 

Trump State of the Union guests highlight reelection messaging
Taxes, immigration, abortion among issues expected on campaign trail

The guest lists for the 2020 State of the Union underscored both the messages for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the way in which congressional Democrats will be on offense against him and his GOP supporters on Capitol Hill.

From an appeal to his base through a typical hard line on immigration and Iran to a broader audience through talk of the benefits of 2017 Republican-led tax cuts and the state of the economy, the president’s guests set up a series of bullet points for the speech-writing team behind the teleprompter text.

Roberts blocks Rand Paul's attempt to name alleged whistleblower

Sen. Rand Paul submitted a question to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Thursday afternoon that included the possible name of the intelligence community whistleblower. Roberts passed on reading the question to the chamber. Immediately after, Paul left the chamber and held a news conference reading the question in front of the TV cameras.

Paul read the question aloud, pertaining to the contact between a staffer for House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and a person who has been speculated by other parties to be the whistleblower.

Print or online? New GPO director Hugh Halpern is a publishing ‘agnostic’
After decades as a Hill staffer, he’s presiding over information in the digital age — but he can still geek out over print

After three decades of trying to blend into the woodwork, Hugh Halpern comes to the office and sees his own face on the wall. His picture is hanging in the lobby.

The new director of the Government Publishing Office spent 30 years as a congressional aide, and pushing down his “staffer instincts” has so far been one of the hardest parts of the job.

Executive privilege standoff could roil Trump impeachment trial timeline
‘Do we recess then, or what do we do?’

A legal fight over executive privilege in the middle of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could put it into suspended animation.

If senators ultimately decide to subpoena Trump administration documents or seek witness testimony, House Democratic managers might have to decide whether to now wage court battles that were avoided during the House phase of the impeachment process.

What day of the Trump trial is it? It turns out there’s no wrong answer
(But we say it started Wednesday)

When did the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begin?

This publication says Wednesday, but depending on which news outlet you watch or read, Thursday could be the second, third or fourth day of the trial.

Burr is giving senators fidget spinners to stay busy during trial
Impeachment arguments have tested lawmakers ability to sit still for hours at a time

Sen. Richard M. Burr is trying to help out his antsy Senate colleagues.

The North Carolina Republican is providing an assortment of fidget spinners and other gizmos to his GOP colleagues at this week’s Thursday lunch.

White House angers GOP senator with executive privilege claim on car tariff report
Other executive privilege claims could be key in impeachment trial

The Trump administration is making a sweeping claim of executive privilege on a topic of interest to the Senate this week, and it has nothing to do with the impeachment trial.

And the White House is angering at least one Republican senator in the process.

McConnell’s impeachment rules would condense opening arguments, limit evidence
Resolution calls for two session days of arguments from House managers, Trump lawyers

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday released a resolution setting time limits on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, and is specifically seeking to limit the number of session days for opening arguments that would begin on Wednesday. 

Under text of a procedural resolution that the Senate would vote on Tuesday afternoon, the House managers would be allotted up to 24 hours over the course of up to two days, starting Wednesday afternoon, to make the case that the president should be removed from the White House.

Senate sets first ground rules for impeachment trial
McConnell, Schumer announced restrictions to staff and visitors

Corrected, Thursday, 8:32 p.m. | Senators and their staffs will be subject to new access restrictions and decorum practices in and around the Senate chamber starting Thursday morning, thanks to the imminent impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Access to the Senate wing will be more limited than usual as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

More votes to terminate Trump's border emergency in the works
Lawmakers can vote again starting Feb. 15, 2020 to terminate the emergency declaration

Top Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that they intended to force another vote on termination of the national emergency that President Donald Trump has used to boost border wall spending.

"Bipartisan majorities in Congress have repeatedly rejected diverting money from critical military construction projects to build a single additional mile of border wall. Robbing the Defense Department of these much-needed funds in order to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build is an insult to the sacrifices made by our service members," Schumer said in a joint statement with Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Klobuchar doubts security explanation for impeachment trial press limits
Rules ranking Democrat has expressed opposition

The top Democrat on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee expressed vehement opposition to new press access restrictions planned for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was in Iowa on Tuesday to participate in a Democratic presidential debate ahead of the state’s first in the nation caucuses, but it was clear that she was keeping track of the decision-making about the Senate operations during the upcoming trial.

Senators look to clear legislative decks before impeachment trial
Notice requirements could give just enough time

The Senate appears set to try to clear the decks of pending legislative business before diving into the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

That could include delivering a big policy victory to the president on trade.

Even after the Senate trial begins, the House could still add more impeachment articles
The 1936 impeachment of a Florida federal judge outlines the process for adding new charges

House Democrats are preparing to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, but they still could add more — even after the Senate trial begins.

If the House managers appointed next week found evidence to support additional articles of impeachment against the president, whether from potential witness testimony on the Senate floor or through other means, they could march back across the Capitol and seek an amended impeachment article resolution on the House floor.

Sanders says he wouldn’t pull troops from Iraq via tweet
Vermont senator unveils effort to block war with Iran

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont wants U.S. troops home from Iraq. But in a clear jab at President Donald Trump’s foreign policy approach, he said he wouldn’t do it with a tweet.

Sanders’ appearance at a press conference Thursday to push legislation blocking war with Iran is the latest indicator that the impeachment trial isn’t the only thing that can lure Democratic presidential hopefuls off the campaign trail and back to the Senate.

Impeachment trial could sideline Iran war powers debate
Confusion about calendar abounds

The confluence of a pending impeachment trial and the potential for military conflict with Iran has left senators with unusual anxiety and a lack of control over their own calendars.

Normally, a privileged resolution under the War Powers Act seeking to stop President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran would take precedence over other Senate business — and a floor debate and vote would be expected as early as next week.

Road ahead: It’s not just impeachment week
Government funding, Pentagon authorization and a trade deal are also on the agenda

Seldom is a massive government funding package almost completely overshadowed on Capitol Hill.

But that is the reality with the House barreling toward the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Both houses have a lot to do before departing for the holidays.

Amid impeachment saga, a kitchen sink of legislative dealing
Sen. Alexander: ‘There’s more to life than judges and impeachment’

The holiday rush on Capitol Hill is in full swing, and the bipartisan legislative lethargy is showing signs of easing even as the House debates articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Senate and House negotiators are still trying to reach an agreement on a bundle of spending bills, but there has been a relative abundance of other bipartisan deal-making and even actual legislation passing in the Senate.

McConnell warns of need for cooperation to complete Christmas wish list
There already may not be enough time if senators object to defense policy, spending measures

The clock is ticking toward Christmas, and in one of the longest-lasting holiday traditions, a Senate majority leader is warning that without bipartisan cooperation there won’t be enough time to get all the work done before the holidays.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Tuesday’s session with the 2019 version of the regular holiday warning.