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Rants aside, Trump scores big with Congress
Podcast, Episode 141

Trump in the House during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5, 2019. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Donors to Rep. Duncan Hunter’s legal defense fund: His uncle, defense contractors
Longtime donors connected to Edison Chouest Offshore also contributed

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, walks down the House steps following a vote in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donors to a special fund established by Rep. Duncan Hunter to underwrite his legal defense include the board member of the company founded by his uncle and multibillion dollar defense contractors.

Hunter can tap $60,800 in donations to a piggybank separate from his campaign committee — called the Duncan D. Hunter Legal Expense Trust — to finance his legal case. Hunter faces trial in September on 60 federal charges related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses such as a family vacation to Italy and dental work.

Democrats introduce disapproval of Trump’s border emergency declaration
Rep. Joaquin Castro told reporters there was one Republican cosponsor — Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is leading the resolution of disapproval. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An effort to disapprove of President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency declaration is on the fast track through the House of Representatives.

Rep. Joaquin Castro told reporters that he filed the joint resolution of disapproval on Friday.

White House ‘looking into’ Acosta’s role in sex offender’s illegal plea deal
Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined Friday to say whether Trump still has confidence in his labor secretary

Alex Acosta, nominee for Secretary of Labor, talks with Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-Wash., during his Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, March 22, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday declined to say whether President Donald Trump still has confidence in Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta a day after a federal judge ruled the Justice Department broke the law while Acosta was a U.S. attorney. 

Florida-based U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled Thursday that Acosta — then the U.S. attorney in Miami — signed off on a 2008 plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein, the Palm Beach billionaire and serial sex abuser, without informing victims about what they were doing. 

Rep. Steve King says he has been cyberbullied
Iowa congressman says New York Times, Washington Post and former NRCC chairman conspired against him

Rep. Steve King told reporters in Iowa that he has “nothing to apologize for.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Steve King was defiant in an interview with Iowa public television this week, insisting he won’t apologize for the racist remarks and actions that cost him all of his committee assignments and endangered his reelection.

“I have nothing to apologize for,” King told a roundtable of reporters on Iowa Public Television in a Thursday taping.

Congress tries to walk the climate crisis talk
Amid debate on Green New Deal, Democrats are treading lightly in their daily lives

Staffers are aiming to lead by example, by creating workplace cultures where being “green” is a priority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Staffers working for environmentally minded lawmakers are trying to walk the talk on climate change by taking small personal actions while their bosses call for big-picture policy shifts.

Around Capitol Hill, several aides are aiming to create workplace cultures where being “green” is a priority and holding colleagues accountable is the norm.

Abusive callers, chatty constituents? It’s all in a day’s work on the Hill
For former interns, staff assistants, answering phones has been a formative experience

Aaron Fritschner, communications director for Virginia Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., has plenty of experience answering constituent phone calls in his previous positions on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Aaron Fritschner’s first day on Capitol Hill was Dec. 14, 2012.

As the only intern in New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s office, he was being trained how to answer the phones and talk to constituents.

Lori Trahan got the band back together as she staffed up her office
Freshman Democrat was once a Hill aide herself

When Rep. Lori Trahan was a scheduler, she tried to be the first one at the office, if only for a little quiet time. Now that she’s the boss, she doesn’t want her staffers to burn the candle at both ends. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lori Trahan knows a thing or two about transferable skills. After climbing the Hill ranks from scheduler to chief of staff, she decamped to the male-dominated world of tech, where her congressional experience came in handy.

Now that she’s back as a freshman Democrat — in the same seat once held by her former boss, Massachusetts Rep. Marty Meehan — she’s trying to think like a consultant. That means being willing to say, “Wait a second, that’s crazy.”

What did the president do and when did he do it?
Russia investigation outcome approaches

President Donald Trump at the Capitol on the night of his State of the Union address earlier this month. Is Trump the political equivalent of Harry Houdini? Shapiro is skeptical. (Doug Mills/The New York Times POOL PHOTO)

OPINION — Both CNN and The Washington Post ran stories Wednesday stating that Robert Mueller will deliver his secret report to the Justice Department next week or soon thereafter. While prior predictions of Mueller’s schedule have had the accuracy of a Revolutionary War blunderbuss, the latest timetable makes intuitive sense.

Mueller must be keenly aware of the errors that James Comey made with his interventions during the 2016 campaign — and March 2019 is far from the 2020 Democratic primaries, let alone the presidential election. William Barr, whose work with Mueller dates back to the late 1980s, is now installed as attorney general. And, of course, Democrats are wielding the gavels in all House committees.