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Shaub: Trump’s ‘Wall of Secrecy’ Could Extend to Ethics Report
Financial disclosure forms could offer clues about Stormy Daniels, ex-Ethics head says

President Donald Trump disclosed $315 million in liabilities last year. Observers are watching this year’s financial disclosure for clues about payments to Stormy Daniels. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Updated 8:56 p.m. | President Donald Trump filed his annual financial disclosure to a government ethics watchdog on Tuesday, but it’s not yet clear whether he reported reimbursing his attorney for payments made to Stormy Daniels or when the public will see the document. 

Walter Shaub Jr., a frequent Trump critic who ran the Office of Government Ethics until last summer, said the disclosure may well document loans to Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who has said he made a $130,000 payment to Daniels, an adult film actress who alleges she had an affair with the president years ago.

Podcast: Conservatives Fight Trump on Trade When Congress Won't
CQ on Congress, Episode 102

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and President Donald Trump pose for photographs at the White House in October. The United States, Canada and Mexico are currently engaged in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Podcast: First House Spending Bills Address #MeToo, Marijuana, Gitmo and More
CQ Budget, Episode 59

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., prepares for final appropriations work before he retires. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Blankenship Insists Ad That Attacks McConnell’s ‘China Family’ Is Not Racist
West Virginia Republican says ad couldn’t be racist because it didn’t mention a race

Don Blankenship, right, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, talks with James Pendry after a town hall meeting at Macado’s restaurant in Bluefield, W.Va., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship insists his new ad, in which he attacks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for growing rich from his “China family,” is not racist.

But in doing so, the West Virginia Republican Senate candidate may have furthered concerns of his own prejudices.

Ryan Accepts Conroy Letter Rescinding His Resignation, Allows Him to Remain House Chaplain
Speaker stands by public statement that his original decision was based on inadequate ‘pastoral services’

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his chief of staff Jonathan Burks, right, were involved in the initial decision to request House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy’s resignation. Ryan is now accepting Conroy’s decision to rescind that resignation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is letting House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy remain in his position, accepting the Jesuit priest’s Thursday letter rescinding his resignation that he submitted last month at the speaker’s request. 

“I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,” Ryan said in a statement. “My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution.”

When Flowers Blossomed on the Congressional Floors and Why They Were Banned
Once a fixture in the chambers, the adornments are now so rare

Flowers bloom in the concrete planter at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and D Street NE in Washington on April 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“The proceedings were dull, but the flowers were bright and fragrant, and in profusion, and the air was full of the odor of roses, hyacinths, carnations, and geraniums.” No, this isn’t a description of a spring trudge around the Tidal Basin, but The New York Times’ description of the opening of a congressional session in the winter of 1893.

In modern times, the beginning of a session of Congress is marked by procedural votes and political grandstanding. And it was much the same at the turn of the 20th century, except with an infusion of scent and color.

Analysis: GOP Senate Targets Fade From View
Matchups fizzle in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, may seem like a sitting duck in Trump country, but Republicans don’t like their chances against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When this election cycle began, handicappers repeatedly pointed out that 10 Democratic Senate incumbents from states carried by Donald Trump would be on the ballot in 2018. That count was accurate, and the point behind it obvious — Republicans had a long list of opportunities.

But now even the most partisan Republicans are acknowledging that the list of serious targets is shrinking to five or six states. Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, North Dakota and Florida are certainly in play, but how are the other competitive Senate races holding up?

Podcast: Of Politicians and Pastors
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 9

House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy blesses a walnut tree during a tree-planting ceremony in memory of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on April 18. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

How Vulnerable is Deb Fischer in Nebraska?
Race still ‘Solid Republican’ at this point

The burden of proof is still on Democrats to demonstrate that a challenge to Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is a serious takeover opportunity, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nebraska has been dubbed a “sleeper” Senate race and rated as competitive by some handicappers. House Democrats just came close to winning a special election in a congressional district President Donald Trump won by 21 points, so how vulnerable is GOP Sen. Deb Fischer?

At a minimum, the senator faces a spirited challenge from Lincoln City Council member Jane Raybould. But the perception that Nebraska is a legitimate Democratic takeover opportunity seems to lean on the proclamation that no Republican seat is safe and limited public polling. Other evidence, including previously unreleased polling from the Fischer campaign, paints a different picture of the race.

Republican Debbie Lesko Wins Arizona Special Election
Victory keeps seat in GOP hands but margin could give Democrats hope

Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko is heading to Congress after winning the special election in Arizona’s 8th District. (Courtesy Debbie Lesko/Flickr)

Updated Wednesday, 12:04 a.m. | Former Republican state Sen. Debbie Lesko won the special election in Arizona’s 8th District on Tuesday night, but her victory margin for a seat that President Donald Trump easily carried in 2016 appeared to be relatively slim.

The Associated Press called the race with Lesko leading Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, 53 percent to 47 percent in early ballots, which accounted for an estimated 75 percent of the total votes cast, according to the Arizona secretary of state’s office. The seat opened up after former GOP Rep. Trent Franks resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct.