Bennie Thompson

Digital Staffers Focus on Getting on Message
Democrats fighting to catch up to Republicans in numbers and training

GOP Labs brings in companies to train staffers in social media and digital platforms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Breaking through the noise is a typical goal in communications, but this year, staffers just want to speak with one voice. They’re making coordination a priority within their parties.

That coordination is most obvious when multiple congressional offices blast out the same message with the same graphics on the same day. Whether it’s criticizing the Republican tax plan or celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it’s all from the same script.

Opinion: The Russians — and the Midterms — Are Coming
U.S. elections are vulnerable, and that needs to change

A march near the Kremlin in 2015 honors Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was fatally shot shortly before a major opposition rally. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Robert A. Brady warn against Russian meddling in future U.S. elections. (Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images file photo)

In November 2016, 139 million Americans cast their votes in the wake of a massive Russian cyber-enabled operation to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

The Kremlin spread disinformation through hundreds of thousands of social media posts. Russian agents hacked U.S. political organizations and selectively exposed sensitive information. Russia targeted voting systems in at least 21 states, seeking to infiltrate the networks of voting equipment vendors, political parties and at least one local election board.

Inside the House Republican Brain Drain
Record exodus by members who’ve wielded gavels will complicate next year

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce isn’t seeking re-election. He’s part of a record wave of departures by House chairmen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This has already become a wave election year, because a record wave of departures by House chairmen already guarantees a sea change in the Republican power structure next January.

Even if the GOP manages to hold on to its majority this fall, its policymaking muscle for the second half of President Donald Trump’s term will need some prolonged rehabilitation. And if the party gets swept back into the minority, its aptitude for stopping or co-opting the newly ascendant Democrats’ agenda will require some serious retraining.

White House Reiterates Wall Demand Ahead of Key Meeting
Sen. Graham, other lawmakers look to pair DACA with border security upgrades

Aurelia Lopez and her daughter Antonia overlook construction of border wall prototypes on Oct. 5, in Tijuana, Mexico. Prototypes of the border wall proposed by President Donald Trump are being built just north of the U.S-Mexico border. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images file photo)

Just hours before a high-stakes White House meeting with Republicans and Democrats, the Trump administration continued to hold tight to its demand that funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall be included in a possible immigration overhaul bill.

“President Trump looks forward to meeting with bipartisan members of the House and Senate today to discuss the next steps toward achieving responsible immigration reform,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

Senate Democrats Doubt Validity of Puerto Rico Death Toll
Reports of full morgues may signal incomplete official count, senators say

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined 12 of her Democratic colleagues in signing a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke raising questions about the official death count in Puerto Rico. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

As Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló travels to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats is asking the administration about the accuracy of the island territory’s death toll.

Thirteen senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have written a new letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke expressing concern that reports about morgues at Puerto Rican hospitals being full may signal that the official tally of 48 fatalities may be incomplete.

Thompson Staffer Still Employed After Tax Conviction
Isaac Lanier Avant is facing new charges relating to a security clearance form

Isaac Lanier Avant served as chief of staff to Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson. (Courtesy Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

A Capitol Hill staffer convicted of failing to file income tax returns, who faces new charges of falsifying a security clearance form, remained employed in Rep. Bennie Thompson’s office after his previous conviction.

A spokesman for the Mississippi Democrat confirmed Thursday that Isaac Lanier Avant, who served as Thompson’s chief of staff, was still employed by the office. Asked if Avant would remain employed following the new charges relating to his security clearance form, the spokesman said he believed Thompson would be making a statement on the subject soon. 

White House Aide Nielsen Picked for Homeland Secretary
Nominee previously served as John F. Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS

Kirstjen Nielsen, deputy White House chief of staff, speaks with John Kelly, White House chief of staff in August 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has chosen Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Nielsen, 45, previously served as Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS when he led the department before taking the White House job in July. Nielsen would be leaving her role at the White House after having served as a top aide to Kelly for just a little over a month.

Staffer Charged With Falsifying Security Clearance Form
Isaac Lanier Avant faces up to five years in prison

Isaac Lanier Avant (Courtesy Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

A congressional staffer has been charged with falsifying a security clearance form, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced Wednesday evening.

Isaac Lanier Avant faces up to five years in prison for not disclosing on a security clearance form that he had failed to pay income taxes. Avant served as chief of staff for Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and worked as deputy staff director and staff director the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Border Security Takes Center Stage in Debate Over 'Dreamers'

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are working on an immigration deal that will include security measures as well as a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Now that President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders in Congress have agreed to pursue a deal that would boost border enforcement in exchange for legal status for young undocumented immigrants, the focus is shifting to what security measures the package could include.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said following a Wednesday night meeting with the president that they had agreed to table the administration’s request for money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a nonstarter for Democrats from the beginning.

Lee, Thompson and Fudge on Former Rep. Brown’s Witness List
Former congresswoman’s trial scheduled to begin April 24

Former Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., is charged with using funds from a non-profit on herself. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Reps. Bennie Thompson, Marcia Fudge and Sheila Jackson Lee are potential witnesses in the corruption case of former Florida Rep. Corrine Brown. 

An attorney for Brown listed Thompson, D-Miss., Fudge, D-Ohio, and Lee, D-Texas, are on the witness list for Brown’s corruption trial, which begins with jury selection on April 24, the Florida Times-Union reported.