Rand Paul Applauds Obama's Solitary Confinement Changes

Obama acting on his own on solitary confinement rules rather than wait for Congress. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama has opted to make some changes to the federal criminal justice system on his own, rather than waiting for Congress to pass an overhaul measure during an election year. And his new solitary confinement rules have already won the praise of one GOP presidential candidate.  

Solitary confinement will no longer be used on juveniles or individuals accused or convicted of low-level crimes, Obama announced  Monday in a newspaper op-ed. He also is expanding treatment for the mentally ill and ramping up the amount of time inmates subjected to solitary confinement get to spend outside their cells. Collectively, the changes will affect 10,000 federal prisoners, according to the White House. Those changes stemmed from an Obama-ordered Justice Department review of federal solitary confinement policies that began last summer. That review determined holding prisoners in solitary can be a “necessary tool” in instances such as prisoners needing to be in isolation for their protection, Obama wrote in the opinion piece in the Washington Post.  

Access to Guns 'Too Easy,' Obama Says

A man browses weaponry at the Knob Creek Gun Range Machine Gun Shoot Out in West Point, Ky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama said federal investigators have yet to determine the motives of two suspected shooters who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday, but he signaled it could have been driven by dual motives.  

Less than 24 hours after Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, opened fire before being killed by police, Obama told reporters the shooting might be terrorism. But he also raised the possibility the incident could be connected, in part, to a workplace dispute.  

White House Slams McConnell on Lynch, Trafficking Bill (Video)

So much for the Bourbon Summit.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest ripped into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Monday, calling his delay of the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general "unconscionable" and blaming him for the latest Senate breakdown over abortion.  

Loretta Lynch Confirmation Expected Next Week

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch will likely see a confirmation vote next week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated to reporters Tuesday, capping a saga that has seen her bid to be the first African-American woman in the position tied up in immigration politics.  

"I think we'll be dealing with the attorney general nomination next week," the Kentucky Republican said. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pronounced himself "happy" at the news and said he hopes that's the case.  

Immigration Threatens Loretta Lynch's Confirmation

Lee and Cruz want to delay the Lynch nomination until next year — when Republicans would have the power to scuttle her nomination if Obama goes ahead with his plans for an immigration amnesty plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Top Republicans want Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general delayed until they are in charge of the Senate — and they are insisting she divulge whether she supports the president's plan to act without Congress on a major immigration amnesty.  

Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a Friday statement saying her nomination should be considered "in the new Congress," and on Saturday, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah also pushed for a delay.  Cruz and Lee issued a joint statement highlighting their demand Lynch divulge her thoughts on whether an executive amnesty would be constitutional.

Confirmation Gauntlet Expected for Loretta Lynch

Grassley has questions for Lynch. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hours after the White House insisted President Barack Obama hadn't made a decision on a new attorney general, officials announced he is nominating Loretta Lynch, a U.S. attorney in New York.  

Lynch, an African-American woman with a Harvard law degree, has served two stints as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and has the strong support of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.