Lessons from 44 Years of Special Investigations
 

Roll Call's David Hawkings decodes the history of independent investigations into Oval Office scandals.

Hill and Mueller Don’t Have to Clash, but It Will Not Be Easy
Congressional inquiries and prosecutors have different purposes, but the same witnesses

Congressional inquiries and special counsels can productively coexist, serving complementary purposes because of their reciprocal approaches, unless they’re unable to settle inevitable fights over the same documents and star witnesses.

That may be the best response to a question many on Capitol Hill started asking as soon as Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to run the government’s probe of Russian interference in last year’s election and whether Moscow collaborated with President Donald Trump’s campaign:

A Senator Out of His Shell, and Under Trump’s Skin
Connecticut’s Blumenthal at the center of opposition to president

Of the 157 tweets President Donald Trump has sent in the last month alone, just six have singled out individuals for ridicule. And half of those have been directed at Richard Blumenthal.

The senior senator from Connecticut, who’s made reticence and prudence the guideposts of his first four decades in political life, is projecting a very different sort of persona these days. While presenting himself in public as quietly as ever, he’s become one of president’s most incisive Democratic antagonists on an array of topics.

Trump-Russia Probe — Congress Can Boost Stature or Squander Opportunity
Bipartisan effort could help restore credibility

An important window of opportunity has been opened for Congress by the firing of James B. Comey as director of the FBI. 

House GOP at Home Defending Health Vote, Not Always Truthfully
The Big Story, Episode 53

The Republican effort to replace Obamacare has put some electorally vulnerable House Republicans on the defensive, CQ Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman says. And, health editor Rebecca Adams explains some members haven’t been accurate back home in explaining what would change. Meanwhile, the Senate debate looks to be long and complex, senior editor David Hawkings predicts.

Defeated Lawmakers Trek From the Hill to Middle Earth — And Beyond
Life after Congress has included ambassadorships for dozens

If three makes a trend and four creates a pattern, then dispatching favored congressional losers to New Zealand has become not just a sliver but a pillar of the American diplomatic order. 

When Scott Brown takes over the embassy in Wellington by this summer — his confirmation virtually assured thanks to the endorsements of both Democratic senators who have defeated him — the onetime matinee idol for Republican centrists will become the fourth former member of Congress who’s assumed that particular ambassadorship after being rejected by the voters.

David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: What’s a Whip?

When getting legislation passed — from continuing resolutions on government spending to health care overhaul bills — congressional leaders keep track of who may vote each way by their helpful sidekicks known as the whips. Ever heard the phrase, “whipping votes?” Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings explains the official and de facto job of this indispensable role on Capitol Hill.

Halftime for Special Election Bragging Rights
As South Carolina votes Tuesday, neither side in Trump referendum fight has an edge

One of the many ways sports and politics are alike is that the “expectations game” is central to both.

The incessant boasting and trash talk by the players makes great theater, but no difference in the outcome of any match or any election. Over time, however, critical masses of paying customers will start shifting their passions elsewhere if the advance histrionics and the eventual outcomes don’t occasionally match.

David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: Trump’s Next Budget Battle Begins Soon

The whiteboard is back! Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings looks past the current battle to fund the government to sketch out President Donald Trump’s next budget task – funding the government for fiscal 2018. His ambitions are big, find out how likely they are to get accomplished.

Podcast: Trump's About-Face in His First 100 Days
The Big Story, Episode 51

The first 100 days of an administration have been used as a benchmark to gauge the progress made by a sitting president. Donald Trump’s first 100 days are punctuated by successes such as confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee and self-inflicted wounds such as the travel ban, says CQ Roll Call’s White House correspondent John T. Bennett. But what is most striking about Trump thus far, adds Bennett, is the difference between candidate Trump and President Trump.

Podcast: Troubled Climate for Trump’s First Earth Day
The Big Story, Episode 50

President Donald Trump is moving on several fronts to deregulate environmental protection, prompting some states to intervene. But deep EPA budget cuts will get tamed by Congress, and the U.S. might stay with the Paris climate accord; even business leaders and conservative voters worry the anti-green push has gone too far, CQ Roll Call’s Mike Magner and Jeremy Dillon explain.

How Trump and Hill GOP Could Fill the Looming Legislative Void
Bipartisan deal to ease spending curbs would give Congress ways to seem productive

Forget the fake news folderol about another shutdown showdown at the end of next week, because just over the horizon looms the year’s really big fiscal morass. 

It’s highly likely that the first order of business when Congress comes back, keeping the bureaucracy humming for just five months, will prove to be the policymaking equivalent of an empty net goal.

Ep. 49: Trump’s Ethics Give Democrats a Midterm Weapon
The Big Story

President Donald Trump has a blasé approach to the long list of complaints about his ethical conflicts and quandaries, and his GOP base hardly seems to mind, CQ Roll Call’s lobbying reporter Kate Ackley says. But all the questionable behavior by the president, his senior aides and his family are already giving Democrats on the Hill plenty of talking points for the midterm campaign.

Why McConnell Vowed to Preserve Minority’s Big Remaining Power
After going ‘nuclear’ for Gorsuch, legislative filibuster not endangered

Thursday’s showdown at the Capitol has been heralded by such melodramatic rhetoric — a miasma of transparent flip-flopping and brazen hypocrisy sullying virtually every senior senator, from both parties — that two genuinely meaningful consequences of the moment may be hard to appreciate.

The first is more obvious: The views of the political minority will never again matter when filling the confirmation-required government job with by far the biggest and longest-lasting impact on the lives of Americans.

How Devin Nunes Got Where He Is Today
Networking, not expertise, got him the Intel gavel so many now want to take away

Any search for a single Republican capable of undermining not only his party’s efforts to project a modicum of independence from President Donald Trump, but also the House’s institutional standing in the world of global affairs oversight, would not normally focus on an alfalfa and dairy farmer turned congressman from California.

But such is the uniquely unsettled nature of Washington this spring that the open casting call for the most newly pilloried person at the Capitol this year is over after just 10 weeks, the role awarded by virtually unanimous consent to Devin Gerald Nunes.

Ep. 47: How the Senate Risks Losing Its Essence Over Gorsuch
The Big Story
The Republican majority is preparing to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmations if that’s what it takes to assure Neil Gorsuch is confirmed, says CQ's legal affairs writer Todd Ruger. But he and CQ Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings say using the so-called nuclear option could change centuries of precedent that make the Senate a place where bipartisanship still matters.  ...
Decoder: Five Takeaways From the Gorsuch Hearings
 

Having completed two long days of grilling before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch leaves us with much to think about. CQ Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings has five key takeaways from the hearings....
GOP Gets a Second Shot at Governance Test
But as shutdown showdown looms, no signs of change in party factionalization

The tax overhaul can wait, and it’s going to have to.

For the Republican government that so phenomenally flopped its first big attempt at policymaking, a much more basic test of governance looms in the next month — and another failure seems hardly a politically acceptable option.

Eight Is Enough: Trump’s Tough Search for Gorsuch Democrats
‘Deep red five’ and others targeted to vote to break coming SCOTUS filibuster

Donald Trump’s first quest for a Hard Eight began long before Neil Gorsuch’s two days as a Senate witness made it as easy as it’s ever going to be for the president to win his first big judicial bet. 

That’s still not going to be that easy.

Yesterday’s US Attorneys May Be Tomorrow’s Congressional Candidates
Abrupt ouster by Trump administration provides incentive

President Donald Trump’s abrupt ouster of almost half the country’s U.S. attorneys has done more than create yet another tempest for his nascent administration. It’s also created a new and potentially potent Democratic political class.

Campaign consultants in both parties have long identified prosecutors — especially those confirmed by the Senate to act as the chief federal law enforcement officers in the nation’s 93 judicial districts — as top-flight congressional recruiting opportunities. But, for reasons that aren’t all that obvious, the Republicans have propelled many more crime busters onto Capitol Hill than the Democrats in recent years.