Jeff Sessions

Acting AG Matt Whitaker agrees to testify before House on Feb. 8
Testimony will be Whitaker’s first since he took over for Jeff Sessions in October

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8, 2019. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker have agreed for Whitaker to testify before the committee in early February, partial government shutdown or no.

The appearance is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at 9:30 a.m.

Barr assures senators of his independence
AG nominee says Mueller investigation isn’t a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions ‘probably did right thing’ in recusing himself

William Barr, nominee for attorney general, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | William Barr appeared to be on a path to confirmation as the next attorney general Tuesday, after he gave senators key assurances about the special counsel probe into the 2016 elections and distanced himself from some of President Donald Trump’s comments about the investigation.

During more than seven hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr avoided the kind of missteps that might cost him votes of Republicans, who have a 53-47 advantage in the chamber. But some Democrats say he did not do enough to reassure them that he would protect Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and make the results public.

Nadler sets Jan. 29 deadline for acting AG Whitaker to testify
Whitaker had asked to meet at least two weeks after government shutdown ends

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker demanding his appearance before the committee by Jan. 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, demanding that he appear before the Judiciary Committee by Jan. 29 and saying that the government shutdown was no excuse for delaying his testimony.

Whitaker previously wrote to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York that he would appear before the panel in mid-February “so long as the Department is at least two weeks removed from a partial government shutdown.”

Immigration case backlog keeps growing as shutdown drags on
‘Some people have been waiting years to have their cases heard,’ immigration attorney says

Immigrants and their supporters rally outside a federal immigration court in February 2017. With the government shutdown in full swing, most immigration courts are closed. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

The partial federal government shutdown has closed most immigration courts, exacerbating the immigration case backlog as judges postpone scores of court cases.

Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said that many immigration judges are on furlough, or unpaid leave, and had to postpone immigration cases, which can take years before they are reheard.

Hammered by Conservatives, Trump Pivots to ‘Principles’ and Chaos
When Trump is in trouble he incites base and distracts from bad news, expert says: ‘A shutdown is two for two’

Conservative Fox News radio and TV host Sean Hannity interviews President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at in Las Vegas in September. Conservative opinion-shapers helped drive Trump to the brink of forcing a partial shutdown. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images file photo)

With 20 words Thursday, President Donald Trump bowed to the demands of his conservative base and all but ensured nine cabinet departments and a handful of other federal agencies will shut down Friday night.

“In life, there are certain principles worth fighting for, principles that are more important than politics, party, or personal convenience,” Trump said about a government funding standoff with Democrats over his demand for $5 billion for his southern border wall.

The Criminal Justice Bill Shows Where the GOP Is on Race
It wasn’t always this way for the party of Lincoln

Sen. Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, may have gotten his party’s backing for the criminal justice bill, Curtis writes. But where were his GOP colleagues when he tried to block the confirmation of Thomas Farr? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Sen. Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, was optimistic after the Senate passed an amended bill this week that makes bipartisan progress on an issue — criminal justice reform — that has divided lawmakers for years.

Scott, an original co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “By cutting recidivism, encouraging job training, education and mental health and substance abuse treatments for incarcerated individuals, and making our criminal justice system both smarter and tougher, we have taken a positive step forward.”

To Prevent Election Meddling, Invest in Black Voters, Groups Say
Russian disinformation campaign seized on long history of suppressing black votes

A voter enters the polling station at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Ala., to vote in the 2017 special election to fill Jeff Sessions' seat in the U.S. Senate. In the foreground is a historical marker noting a 1963 civil rights march to the courthouse to register African-American women as voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Political leaders seeking to prevent future meddling in American elections could take a lesson from the Russians: Invest in black voters.

That’s one takeaway from reports this week that Russian operatives disproportionately targeted African-Americans during the 2016 election, according to groups that seek to increase black participation and representation in American politics. 

Amid Corruption Charges, Zinke Is Leaving as Interior Secretary
Trump had expressed concern about allegations against former House member

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be leaving his post at the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 12:35 p.m. | Embattled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be the latest senior official to leave the Trump administration after months of being dogged by corruption charges.

President Donald Trump made the announcement on Twitter, saying the former Montana congressman would be leaving his post at the end of the year.

Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column
From Trump to Beto to the Red Sox, it has been, well, another year

President Donald Trump provided much fodder for Stu Rothenberg's annual end of the year winners and losers column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Well, it’s time for another of my end-of-the-year winners and losers columns. I’ve titled it “Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column” just so you don’t miss the point.

As I have often done in the past, I’ll offer up a category with some nominees. Then I’ll give you my winner. If you disagree, please send your complaints to Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections or Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. Just don’t send them to me.

John Kelly Out as White House Chief of Staff, Trump Says
Nick Ayers, VP Pence’s chief of staff, is leading candidate for job

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a White House briefing on Oct. 19. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump said Saturday White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will leave his post at the end of the year, concluding a rocky tenure during which he clashed with his boss.

“A great guy,” Trump said of the retired Marine Corps general as he left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.