legal-affairs

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.

Dug-in Trump to Dems: ‘Only a wall will work’ as shutdown enters 25th day
President contends polls shifting toward him, but one shows he didn’t change any minds with address

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the Capitol to attend a Senate Republican policy luncheon last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A day after appearing to downplay the stature of his proposed southern border wall, President Donald Trump sent a message to congressional Democratic leaders: “Only a wall will work” as a partial government shutdown over his demands enters its 25th day.

Trump sent mixed messages about his proposed border wall during a Monday speech to an agriculture conference in New Orleans. After first saying he would not “back down” on his wall demands, he appeared to downplay the proposal among his full collection of 2016 campaign promises.

Burned in the past, Democrats reluctant to give ground in wall fight
Democrats and allies concerned conceding would set a precedent for more rounds of brinksmanship

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, said she “absolutely” expects President Donald Trump would trigger additional shutdowns as a bargaining chip if Democrats make a deal with him on wall funding now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown, now in its record-setting 24th day, is about more than just a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats and their allies are concerned that if party leaders cut a deal with President Donald Trump on wall funding, it would set a precedent for more rounds of dangerous brinksmanship in the months and years to come.

Trump: ‘I never worked for Russia’
President rejects Lindsey Graham’s plan to reopen federal government

President Donald Trump declines to answer a final question as he departs the White House on Monday for New Orleans to address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday denied working for the Russian government after a report detailing a FBI counterintelligence probe into whether he was working for Russia and against U.S. interests.

The New York Times report stated federal investigators became concerned about Trump actions around the time and after he fired former FBI Director James Comey, including admitting publicly he did so with the Justice Department’s broader Russian election meddling investigation on his mind.

Trump’s snow day Twitter rant spills into Monday with attacks on Dems
President also mocks report of FBI probe into whether he worked for Russia

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One from the White House on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After a snowy Sunday of Twitter threats and jabs, President Donald Trump on Monday morning fired off more posts blaming Democrats for the now-record partial government shutdown and mocking a report the FBI opened an investigation over concerns he was working for Russia.

During a mid-December Oval Office meeting that devolved into a bickering match, the president told Democratic leaders he would “take the mantle” of any partial shutdown. With nine Cabinet agencies and other offices now shuttered for more than three weeks, Trump on Monday wrote that “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

The border wall blitz, brought to you by Donald Trump and Mike Pence
Dramatic week ends with president touting barrier of ‘steel that has concrete inside’

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive to the Capitol to on Wednesday to urge Senate Republicans to hold the line on his proposed southern border wall and a record-tying partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Eager to shift public opinion in favor of taxpayers funding a southern border wall as part of any legislation to reopen a quarter of the federal government, the White House has deployed its top guns, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, on a public relations blitz.

Several polls show about half of Americans blame the president for the shutdown, while around 35 percent blame Democrats. What’s more, Trump’s approval rating has dipped during the 21-day funding lapse that has left 800,000 federal workers furloughed and without paychecks Friday for the first time. Even a survey by Rassmussen Reports — typically more friendly to conservatives like the president — found most Republicans who responded see a wall as effective but not an emergency.

Health law appeal paused as shutdown affects federal courts
Justice Department also asks for pause in suit concerning acting AG Whitaker

Citing the shutdown, Justice Department lawyers asked for a pause in a suit challenging the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, pictured here. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown halted a major challenge to the 2010 health care law among other civil litigation on Friday, as Justice Department lawyers sought the same in a challenge from three Senate Democrats to the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a two-page order granting the Trump administration’s request to halt the 2010 health care law case “in light of lapse of appropriations.”

Shutdown could drag on as Trump won’t move ‘fast’ on national emergency for wall
Dug-in president calls on Congress to ’come back and vote’

President Donald Trump speaks as he is joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise in the Rose Garden at the White House last week. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump signaled Friday that a partial government shutdown now in its record-tying 21st day could drag on for a while as he said he will not move “fast” to declare a national emergency to access border wall funds.

The president told reporters during a border security event in the White House’s Cabinet Room that he has the “right” and legal authority to make the move, which would allow him to access Defense Department dollars and shift them to the construction of a border barrier. But he made clear he plans to continue to press Democrats to give in to his demands before he issues such a decree.