Senate seeks to punish Russia

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill which seeks to limit Russia’s control and influence in Europe by sanctioning Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project. The bill now moves to the Senate to be voted on.

Another Republican to retire

Rep. Rob Bishop (R) announced that he will not seek another term in Congress. Bishop is the fourth Republican in the last two weeks that has announced their retirement from Congress.

House panel votes to subpoena Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act testimony

The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday voted to subpoena White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after she did not appear voluntarily at a hearing focused on her repeated alleged violations of the Hatch Act. The White House blocked Conway from appearing for public testimony before the committee Wednesday, citing “long-standing precedent” of declining to offer presidential advisers for congressional testimony.

Mueller to testify publicly

Getcha popcorn ready…Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump.

Rep Mike Quigley: Impeachment imperative

“Our democracy is at its best when the American people are in a position to fully trust in their government and institutions. Throughout my career, I have fought to ensure that our elected officials are transparent and held accountable so voters can draw their own conclusions. I have never been a reactionary. I am not someone who has called for the president’s removal from day one. I believe in a thoughtful, measured approach. Opening an impeachment inquiry is the most appropriate way to ensure that Congress and the American people have a full accounting of the facts.”

Lawmakers doubt asylum changes can be made in two weeks

Lawmakers on both sides have expressed doubts that they could advance legislation to toughen the asylum process for migrants in the next two weeks, as sought by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence after the administration delayed a planned weekend round of deportations by ICE. Democrats want to focus on comprehensive immigration reform or measures to fund the asylum process. Republicans favor legislation to limit asylum options and build Trump’s proposed border wall.

Congressman: Migrant conditions ‘worst’ ever

Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said yesterday that conditions in migrant detention facilities in his home state of Texas were the “worst” he’s ever seen. He added that while he would prefer to tie humanitarian aid to other border security measures, “if my choice on the minority side is to vote up or down on a compassionate, humanitarian package, that’s what I’m going to do because it’s the right thing to do.” Four toddlers were sent to the hospital last week after being held at a detention facility.

House votes to repeal AUMF

Possibly throwing Donald Trump’s Iran plans into disarray, House Democrats voted to pass a $1 trillion appropriations bill, which includes a repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force — Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against AUMF in 2001, added the repeal last month. However, no Republicans voted for the bill and it appears unlikely it will get past the Senate.

Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales

The Senate voted today to block the president from using his emergency authority to complete several arms sales to Saudi Arabia. President Trump has cited rising tensions with Iran as justification for using his emergency powers to complete the deals. Both Democrats and Republicans have been troubled by Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia, particularly in the wake of its involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen’s civil war. Despite bipartisan support, the Senate votes fell short of a veto-proof majority, and Trump has already indicated he will override the legislation.

US senators reportedly got a classified briefing on UFOs

Three US Senators received a classified briefing about UFOs seen travelling at hypersonic speed by US Navy pilots, congressional and government officials told Politico. A spokesman for Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirmed to the outlet that the Virginia Democrat was among those present at the briefing. “If naval pilots are running into unexplained interference in the air, that’s a safety concern Senator Warner believes we need to get to the bottom of,” his spokesperson, Rachel Cohen, said in a statement.

Hicks in the hot seat

Oh, to be a fly on the wall! Behind closed doors today, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is answering questions from the House Judiciary Committee about her former boss’ conduct. Last night, in a letter to Chair Jerry Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone claimed Hicks is “absolutely immune” from answering questions about her time at the White House and on the Trump transition team—whatever that means. Frustrated Democrats say Hicks has not answered such questions, and White House lawyers have accompanied her to the interview purportedly to ensure that she doesn’t.

Poll shows majority of Dems wants to impeach

Democrats have had enough of Trump. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll finds that more than two-thirds of self-identified Democratic respondents believe Congress should launch impeachment proceedings. Sixty-seven percent said lawmakers should begin proceedings, while 18% disagreed, and 15% didn’t know. Asked in the same poll whether candidates should accept information on their opponents offered by a foreign government, 61% said “probably not” or “definitely not.”

Cummings requests interview with census bureau official over personal emails with GOP gerrymanderer

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings is requesting that a Census Bureau official interview with his committee after it was revealed that she was in touch with a GOP redistricting strategist about a possible citizenship question. Cummings, in a letter Tuesday to Census Bureau chief of staff Christa Jones, requested that she hand over documents on any communications she had about a potential census citizenship question with a number of Trump officials and advisers, as well as the late Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller.

Barbara McQuade & Joyce Vance: Congress must follow Mueller’s lead

“It seems like every day brings new allegations about this administration’s conduct. The sheer volume of them can be overwhelming and make it difficult to focus. The special counsel, far from exonerating the president on criminal obstruction of justice charges, presented a compelling case that the president violated the law. It is important for Congress and the American people to understand the misconduct that occurred and how it threatened our national security so that we can fulfill our own responsibilities as citizens to make informed choices about our leaders.”

How the US is trying to improve election security

Election security legislation has been facing roadblocks for over a year in Congress, thanks (or no thanks) to Sen. Mitch McConnell, and little activity on the issue is expected in the coming months. But other branches of government have made more progress. Here are some of the steps the federal government has taken to help secure elections in the U.S., as well as some of the possible disinformation threats that could reappear in 2020.

Schiff: Mueller has a duty to testify

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the clock is ticking for Robert Mueller to publicly testify about his investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 election. “Time is running out,” Schiff said Tuesday. “With someone like Bob Mueller, making an appeal to his patriotism and a sense of duty is the right way to go.”

The struggle between an immovable object and an irresistible force

McConnell has been the immovable object: He’s frustrated House Democrats by systematically blocking Senate votes so far on the lengthening list of bills they have passed, from gun control to additional protections for patients with preexisting health problems. But McConnell’s blockade faces a new challenge as the House turns to a series of bills meant to fight foreign interference in the 2020 election – bills that will be harder to portray as partisan overreach than the bills the House has passed so far.

Ron Fournier: Will impeachment backfire? Not if done right

“Unless Democrats and Republicans in Congress impeach Trump, every future president has grounds to ask foreign adversaries to launch covert operations against his or her political rivals in the United States. But impeachment would backfire on Democrats, right? Not if they do it right. The more I reflect on the Clinton impeachment, the more I realize he didn’t survive because Republicans overreached. He survived because he made sure his public-facing focus was always on the lives and concerns of voters. He compartmentalized the impeachment drama inside a team of lawyers, pollsters and communications specialists — and had them weaponize the case against him.”

House Dems plan to call new witnesses

Democrats investigating Donald Trump for obstruction of justice are eyeing a new strategy to break the president’s all-out oversight blockade: calling witnesses who never worked in the White House, including presidential confidants such as former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Other Russia probe-related figures who never served in Trump’s administration, such as Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, are also prime game.

Push to impeach Trump stalls amid Democrats’ fear of Pelosi

As pressure has mounted in recent weeks on House Democrats to move more aggressively against Trump, Pelosi has demonstrated the firm grip she wields over her caucus — quashing, at least for now, the push for impeachment. It is a command that colleagues say is drawn from a deep well of respect for the political wisdom of the most powerful woman in American politics — and fear that challenging her comes with the risk of grave cost to one’s career.

Max Boot: Trump allies keep lying to themselves

“The most benign explanation is that Republicans are afraid of embarrassing Trump and incurring his wrath. The more sinister explanation is that they are secretly rooting for Russian help again in 2020. The two explanations are not, of course, incompatible. Either way, Republicans are putting partisan self-interest above the nation’s interest.”

McConnell buries plans to protect America from election interference, takes money from voting machine lobby

Russian operatives not only conducted a vast disinformation campaign through Twitter and Facebook, and hacked documents from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, but also tried to penetrate 21 state election-related networks. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told his colleagues that he will not allow the Senate to vote on election security legislation this session.

Junior says ‘nothing to change’ in Senate testimony

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., on Wednesday appeared for a second time before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which issued a subpoena for his testimony after he resisted coming voluntarily. Trump Jr. told reporters after the two-and-a-half hour closed-door session Wednesday that he did not have to correct his previous testimony and was “not at all” worried about perjury. The panel is completing its two-year investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling.