Executive Branch

Senators bend the rules by wearing Apple Watches to Trump trial
The 'smart' accessory could give senators a link to the outside world during impeachment arguments

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., left, dons his Apple watch as he talks to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, before a Nov. 6 Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The rules of decorum state that senators can’t use phones or electronic devices in the chamber during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but what about Apple Watches?

At least eight senators had them strapped on their wrists in the chamber at the start of the trial Tuesday, despite guidelines from Senate leadership that all electronics should be left in the cloakroom in the provided storage.

Supreme Court denies request for expedited appeal of challenge to 2010 health care law
House and several blue states had requested appeal that could have led to decision ahead of election

An expedited hearing on the 2010 health care law could have led to a ruling before the election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will not hear an expedited appeal of a legal challenge to the 2010 health care law this term, which could have led to a decision this summer on whether to overturn the entire law during the heat of the campaign season.

At least five justices declined a request from several Democratic state officials and the House to fast-track an appeal of the case, Texas v. Azar. Instead, a lower court judge will reconsider how much of the 2010 health care law should fall after Congress eliminated the law's tax penalty on most Americans who did not have health care coverage. The Supreme Court could agree to hear the case as soon as its next term, which begins in October, but a decision is not likely before the November elections.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 21
McConnell relents on two key rules for Senate trial

House impeachment managers address the media in the Capitol on the Senate trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Following input from senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday made two changes to his resolution setting the rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The updated resolution will allow for the House managers and the president’s lawyers to make arguments for up to 24 hours over three days, rather than the two session days in the draft released Monday night.

2020 census begins! Decennial headcount starts in Alaska
Effort starts in remote villages before residents disperse for seasonal work in spring

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham addresses state and Alaska Native leaders in Anchorage days before Tuesday’s first count of the 2020 census. (Mark Thiessen/AP)

By snowmobile and small plane, the 2020 census starts Tuesday in Alaska, facing the same language barriers and government trust issues that will make the count difficult on the U.S. mainland on top of actual physical obstacles like the rugged terrain where most of the state lies off the road system.

The geography of Toksook Bay, a fishing village on Alaska’s western coast that’s hosting the first count, shows the difficulty of counting the state’s residents. Many of the state’s villages, including Toksook Bay, can only be accessed by boat, plane or snowmobile. The effort starts in Alaska midwinter to count residents there before they disperse for seasonal work in the spring. 

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, R-Ky., circulated his proposed impeachment rules resolution on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Crimes required? Trump’s impeachment defense could set new standard
Trump defense team seizes on the lack of an article charging the president with a crime

A clerk places a tray of pens before Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signs the articles of impeachment during an engrossment ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s defense team is arguing that a president should not be convicted by the Senate on articles of impeachment that do not include a criminal violation, putting the very definition of an impeachable offense at the center of the Senate trial set to begin Tuesday.

And some legal experts said the outcome of that debate could set a new, higher standard for removing a president from office in future impeachments.

Reporter’s Notebook: Precedent, the reason Senate rules feel ‘made up’

Niels Lesniewski talks about his deep dive into the 1936 impeachment of a federal judge from Florida. (Graham MacGillivray/CQ Roll Call)

CQ Roll Call reporter Niels Lesniewski took a deep dive into the history of impeachment ahead of the Senate trial for President Donald Trump. He found some pertinent parallels in a 1936 impeachment case of a federal judge from Florida that involved the House adding articles of impeachment after a Senate trial began.

Watch as he takes us through the weird rabbit hole he jumped down for this archived story.

Former Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to just over two years in federal prison
New York Republican pleaded guilty in October to insider trading charges

Former New York Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison for insider trading. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison Friday for insider trading crimes he committed, ending a legal process that evolved from the New York Republican calling the charges “meritless” shortly after he was indicted to him pleading guilty and proclaiming embarrassment for his actions.

Collins, who represented the Buffalo-area 27th District for seven years and was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, pleaded guilty on Oct. 1 to participating in a scheme to commit insider trading and lying to the FBI to conceal his illegal activity. He resigned from Congress the day before his guilty plea.

USDA official to resign, leaving civil rights post vacant
Lawmakers say her managerial style caused discord and discouraged employees from filing complaints

Department of Agriculture sign in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 4:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 | The effort to fill the top Agriculture Department civil rights post got a setback this week with the resignation of Naomi C. Earp, the nominee for the position who has been serving as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights.

Earp, chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush, has been under fire from Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations.

Court tells teen plaintiffs it can’t force climate policy changes
Majority agreed the teens showed the federal government ‘has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change’

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court in September.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court said Friday that young climate activists established that government policies worsened climate change but dismissed the activists’ case seeking to force policy changes, ruling it was beyond the court’s power.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel accepted the argument that climate change had accelerated in recent years and that government policies encouraged fossil fuel use even as authorities knew it could have disastrous consequences. But the Constitution doesn’t empower courts to force such sweeping changes to policies at several federal agencies, the majority ruled.