Idaho

New national security adviser faces personality test with Trump’s inner circle
Robert O’Brien is largely a blank slate on policy, which could help him manage internal disagreements

Robert C. OBrien, serving as special envoy for President Donald Trump, arrives at a courthouse in Stockholm during the rapper A$AP Rocky assault trial in August. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images file photo)

Internal debates during President Donald Trump’s first two and a half years in office have been marked by acrimony, tension and high-stakes negotiations. So perhaps it was no surprise that Trump named as his fourth national security adviser the State Department’s lead hostage negotiator, Robert C. O’Brien.

No president has had so many national security advisers in his first term. However long O’Brien lasts in the job, his tenure will be defined less by his policy views and more by how he manages disagreements within Trump’s inner circle.

Ex-Rep. Issa gets confirmation hearing, muddling potential comeback
California Republican indicated he might run in California's 50th District against incumbent GOP Rep. Hunter

Former Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will sit for his confirmation hearing on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Darrell Issa will finally appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing Thursday on his nomination to be director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, casting uncertainty on his contingent plan of mounting a congressional comeback.

The California Republican, who represented San Diego County in the House for 18 years before retiring in January, was nominated by President Donald Trump for the administrative post last Sept. 19 — exactly a year before his confirmation hearing, scheduled for Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Issa on challenging fellow Republican Hunter: ‘He cannot win reelection’
California Republican represented adjacent district for 18 years, believes Hunter's legal troubles jeopardize GOP control of seat

Former Republican Rep. Darrell Issa has signaled he might come out of retirement to run in California’s 50th District, currently held by embattled GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Darrell Issa signaled over the weekend that he intends to run for Congress in Rep. Duncan Hunter’s district if he is not confirmed to a position in the Trump administration by winter.

Issa and Hunter are both Republican.

Isakson’s decision adds competitive seat to 2020 Senate battleground
Republicans still favored to hold both Senate seats in Georgia

The resignation of Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., sets up another election in Georgia in 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson’s resignation adds another seat to the 2020 Senate battleground and gives Democrats another takeover opportunity in their road to the majority.

According to state law, GOP Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint a senator, who will then stand for election in November 2020 to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term. Isakson was most recently reelected in 2016, 55 percent to 41 percent, and would have been up again in 2022.

Lawmakers press to keep Myanmar sanctions in defense bill
Statement comes in conjunction with second anniversary of forced migration of Rohingya Muslims

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel is among the lawmakers pushing to keep Myanmar sanctions in the defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Top lawmakers are using Sunday’s anniversary of the forced migration of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to encourage defense negotiators to keep new sanctions in the annual defense policy bill.

Legislative language based on bipartisan House and Senate legislation is included in the House-passed version of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization, and the members of both chambers leading the sanctions effort are calling on their colleagues to not remove the language in conference negotiations with the Senate. The measure would require sanctions to be imposed on senior military officials.

The GOP is confirming Trump judicial nominees it stalled under Obama
Judges couldn’t get a vote when Obama was president. They’re getting on the bench under Trump

From left, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, Vice President Mike Pence, and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) in 2017. Gorsuch was confirmed after McConnell had blocked President Barack Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland. (Al Drago/Pool/The New York Times)

At least 10 judicial nominees who couldn’t even get a confirmation vote in the final years of President Barack Obama’s administration ended up on the bench after Donald Trump’s election.  

Those nominees, blocked by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans while Obama was in the White House, got a second chance. Rather than blocking them under Trump, McConnell sought to speed up the confirmation process. Thanks to the shift in political priorities, Republicans confirmed them with bipartisan support.

White House mulls slimmed-down foreign aid cuts package
Pompeo said to urge Trump not to use budgetary end-run

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly urged President Donald Trump to back away from a plan to rescind more than $4 billion in foreign aid previously approved by Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Trump administration plan to do an end-run around Congress and cancel more than $4 billion in previously approved foreign aid funds could be scaled back, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged President Donald Trump to back away from the idea in a phone call Monday night.

Details of the conversation between Pompeo, Trump and acting White House budget chief Russell Vought were shared by several individuals close to the foreign aid sector. A senior administration official declined to comment, other than to say it was a private conversation.

They wear tiaras and sashes. But don’t call it a beauty pageant
Senate staffer hopes for luck at Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival

Molly Eastman was selected to represent Washington, D.C., at Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. (Courtesy Molly Eastman)

Molly Eastman is not competing in a beauty pageant. “That would very much be the American take on something like this,” she laughed over the phone from the Hart Senate Office Building. 

Eastman is representing Washington, D.C., this weekend in Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Don’t get too caught up in the polished tiaras and evening gowns — “It’s basically a big celebration of Irish heritage,” the staffer for Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told me.  

White House lifts pause on State, USAID spending
The move comes after a flurry of congressional criticism of OMB's funding freeze

The White House has agreed to release certain State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding after it had been temporarily frozen. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House has released certain funds appropriated for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development that over the weekend had been temporarily frozen, a senior administration official said Friday.

The action comes after the Office of Management and Budget told those two agencies to cease spending for a range of programs that still have unobligated fiscal 2018 and 2019 balances, and would otherwise expire if not spent by Sept. 30.

Elizabeth Warren probes Capital One after massive data breach
The Senator requested information on how the breach was conducted and when the bank plans to notify customers whose data was taken

In a letter sent to Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., requesting information on how a security breach was conducted and when the bank plans to notify customers whose data — including possibly their Social Security numbers — was taken in the breach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is putting pressure on Capital One to answer questions about the recent data breach that affected more than 100 million of the bank’s customers.

In a letter on Wednesday to Richard Fairbank, Capital One’s chief executive, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate requested information on how the breach was conducted and when the bank plans to notify customers whose data — including possibly their Social Security numbers — was taken in the breach.