Todd Ruger

Chief Justice leaves his friendly confines for Trump impeachment trial
Will anyone in the Senate know his favorite dessert?

Charles E. Grassley was one of the first senators to suggest Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. might be uncomfortable presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — in part because it will be televised.

The Iowa Republican, who will swear in Roberts for his role Thursday, has long been an advocate for adding cameras to the Supreme Court. But Roberts and the other justices haven’t budged. They still conduct oral arguments and announce opinions in a courtroom without cameras or cell phones.

Courtroom experience a commodity as Trump impeachment trial begins
Senators with significant time in front of a judge are sought-after in the run-up to historic trial

The impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has boosted the profile of senators who have specific experience in their background: spending time in front of a judge.

Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who tried cases and pressed appeals as a civil rights lawyer before he entered politics, said Wednesday that Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has started a dialogue with him and other Democratic senators who have courtroom experience ahead of the impeachment trial.

‘Documents don’t lie’ — the other fight over evidence at Trump impeachment trial
With trial to begin next week, it's unclear Democrats have the votes to issue subpoenas

The high-profile fight over potentially dramatic witness testimony at an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has overshadowed the Senate’s possible demand for a different type of revealing cache of new evidence — withheld documents.

Senate Democrats have pushed to include in the trial documents that the Trump administration refused to turn over during the House investigation. But they need at least four Republicans to vote with all Democrats and independents for the Senate to subpoena witnesses or documents, and it's not clear they have those votes.

Roberts would hold the gavel, but not the power, at Trump impeachment trial
The chief justice is likely to punt contentious and political questions to lawmakers

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will preside over any impeachment trial of President Donald Trump as the Constitution requires, but don’t expect him to make decisions that substantively reshape the action.

Although there is speculation about how active a role Roberts will take in an impeachment trial and whether key witnesses testify, the Senate under past rules has given relatively little authority to the nation’s top judicial figure. And in the areas Roberts might have authority to make rulings, such as questions about whether evidence is relevant, the rules also allow the Senate to call for a vote to overrule him anyway.

House counsel warns of ‘gun battle’ in fight for Trump info
Letter said there’s no case that comes anywhere close to saying Congress cannot go to court to enforce its investigatory powers

A federal appeals court in Washington heard warnings Friday that how they rule in the House Judiciary Committee’s legal fights for information from the Trump administration could spark an avalanche of congressional lawsuits, or even a potential gunfight between the House sergeant at arms and the FBI security detail for Attorney General William Barr.

Two separate panels of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard nearly three hours of oral argument on two committee cases related to former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both were filed months before the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump on his dealings with Ukraine.

House contends it still needs court help to get Mueller info
Federal appeals court will hear oral arguments Friday

The House Judiciary Committee will contend Friday in court that it still needs information quickly from former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation even though the House impeached President Donald Trump last month.

The federal appeals court in Washington set oral argument for Friday morning in two committee cases: a lawsuit to force former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify about episodes from Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and an application to see secret grand jury materials from that same investigation.

Impeachment chicken: Pelosi, McConnell and the battle for leverage over a Senate trial
Democrats line up behind speaker’s power play as contours of process start to take shape

House Democrats are backing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s power move to hold articles of impeachment in the House until the Senate agrees to what Democrats say will be fair procedures for a trial, but it’s unclear how long their patience for this game of chicken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will last.

Pelosi announced the move at a news conference late Wednesday night after the House impeached President Donald Trump, and then briefly explained her thinking with Democrats at a meeting Thursday morning.

House members feel the weight of history in impeachment votes

Virginia Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman stopped for a split second as he walked into the House chamber Wednesday afternoon, held up a copy of the two-minute speech he was about to give on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, and posed as a staffer took his photo for Twitter.

On a day when Democrats and Republicans divided sharply over whether Trump’s behavior in office should make him just the third president to face impeachment in the House, Riggleman’s move was among the many small signs that members of Congress could agree on one thing.

As impeachment vote approaches, Democrats busy talking about other things
Amid policy discussions, Democrats praise colleagues for principled positions on impeachment

It’s the day before the House votes to impeach a president for just the third time in history, so naturally one would expect Democrats leading the effort to be talking about the coming vote.

Instead, the Democratic Caucus spent most of their weekly meeting Tuesday talking about the two massive appropriations packages that were unveiled Monday evening, along with a host of other policy priorities they’re trying to get done before the end of the year. 

House members eye high-profile impeachment assignment
Senate trial could be a career-defining moment for some ambitious Democrats

The expected impeachment of President Donald Trump this week will give some lawmakers a potentially career-defining opportunity to present the House’s case against the president to the country during a Senate trial next month.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will decide who and how many impeachment managers will travel to the other side of the Capitol to make arguments, present evidence, question witnesses and more in just the third time in U.S. history that a sitting president has been on trial before the Senate.

Justices decide to wade into separation-of-powers showdown
The issue lands there just as the House prepares a floor vote on articles of impeachment

The Supreme Court on Friday stepped into the political and legal fight over whether Congress can obtain President Donald Trump’s financial and tax records.

The justices agreed to decide two cases in the first separation-of-powers showdown between Congress and Trump to reach the high court. The issue lands there just as the House prepares a floor vote on articles of impeachment.

House urges Supreme Court to enforce subpoenas for Trump’s financial records
Delay in subpoenas would be deprive Congress information it needs to secure elections, court filing says

The House cited 2020 election security concerns Wednesday when it urged the Supreme Court not to delay the enforcement of congressional subpoenas for financial records of President Donald Trump and his business from Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial Corporation.

Any harm to Trump for allowing the enforcement of the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees would be less severe than Congress not getting information it needs to protect the elections from foreign influence, House attorneys argued in a Supreme Court filing.

House Democrats abandon crimes in Trump impeachment articles
Strategy focuses on constitutional, rather than criminal, violations

House Democrats spoke for months about how investigations had established crimes that President Donald Trump committed, but on Tuesday they did not specifically include those allegations in articles of impeachment under the constitutional standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The two articles of impeachment Democrats filed — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — stayed away from detailing where Trump might have broken the law with his dealings with Ukraine or interactions with the special counsel probe into Russian interference with the 2016 election.

DOJ watchdog finds problems, not politics in Trump campaign probe
Report does not back president’s most sweeping criticisms of FBI investigation

The FBI had enough evidence to launch a criminal probe into members of President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election, and political bias did not motivate that decision, a Justice Department watchdog concluded.

But DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz also identified “significant concerns” with how the FBI handled aspects of the investigation, particularly how it handled applications to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to a secret court that oversees such requests.

Judges ponder lawmaker right to sue over Trump businesses
Legal challenge rests on the constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause

A federal appeals court suggested Monday that individual members of Congress can’t pursue a lawsuit against President Donald Trump over allegations he violated a constitutional ban on financially benefiting from the office.

An attorney for more than 200 lawmakers — led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. — told a three-judge panel that Trump is supposed to get consent from Congress before accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments under the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

Lawmakers weaponize colleagues’ call records
Devin Nunes disclosure could presage conflict over phone conversations

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week gave members of Congress a glimpse at a new and distressing weapon in partisan warfare — the exposure of lawmakers’ call records as part of congressional oversight.

The House Intelligence Committee report in its investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine included the call records of the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly under criminal investigation, and his indicted associate Lev Parnas.

Wide partisan gulf on display at impeachment hearing
First day of testimony offers little hope of mutual agreement on facts uncovered by House Democrats

Democrats and Republicans might have been in the same hearing room Wednesday, but the first day of testimony in this phase of the impeachment process of President Donald Trump underscored just how little the parties are engaging with each other.

And the daylong House Judiciary Committee hearing dedicated to exploring the Constitution’s impeachment standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” offered little hope of some mutual agreement on the facts that House Democrats uncovered, how to interpret them or the entire impeachment process.

Impeachment hearing more about Judiciary panel than witnesses
Members poised to use testimony to highlight concerns with president’s behavior, committee’s process

The House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing Wednesday in a push to impeach President Donald Trump will be more about the members of the committee than the witnesses, and what it reveals about where the process is headed in the next two weeks.

Four constitutional law experts will appear to discuss the meaning of the Constitution’s impeachment standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But members from both sides are poised to use the testimony to highlight their concerns with the president’s behavior or their concerns with the impeachment process.

Supreme Court seems hesitant to rule on defunct gun law
Case is first test of how far the justices might extend gun rights outside the home

The Supreme Court heard the first oral argument about Second Amendment rights in almost a decade Monday, and most of the justices didn’t appear inclined to jump back into the contentious social debate over gun control laws.

The court has long avoided major cases that address the extent to which Congress or state lawmakers can pass laws that restrict firearms, since 5-4 rulings in 2008 and 2010 that found an individual right to possess a firearm at home for self-defense.

Consequential month ahead for court battles between House and Trump
Decisions expected in several cases that could determine limits of congressional power to investigate the president

December will bring a blizzard of action in federal courts that could ultimately settle the limits of congressional power to investigate presidents and compel testimony — and could play a role in the ongoing political drama over impeachment.

In the next two weeks, the Supreme Court and others will handle litigation about congressional subpoenas for White House and national security officials and about lawmakers’ ability to get documents related to President Donald Trump’s finances.