Michael McCaul

In the West, an outsize role for Texas in the 2020 elections
Battles for Senate and numerous House seats will drive interest in Lone Star State

Sen. John Cornyn’s reelection and a handful of House seats where Republicans have retired make Texas one of the key states to watch next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

Impeachment testimony details Republicans’ process fight, in public and behind closed doors
State Department lawyers passed on chance to set boundaries, says Yovanovitch's counsel

Rep. Mark Meadows speaks to reporters outside a scheduled deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry in the Capitol Visitor Center on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The first release of transcripts of closed-door testimony in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump on Monday brought into stark relief the procedures governing the depositions — a significant turning point in the inquiry because House Republicans have made questioning the process a cornerstone of their defense of the president.

The arguments Republicans have aired outside of the secure facility in the Capitol basement — that Trump administration lawyers should be present, that the impeachment inquiry is not valid and lacks due process for the president — were clearly represented as a boiling over of frustrations from behind closed doors in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.

Nunes to move from supporting to leading role in Trump impeachment defense
Top Republican on Intelligence panel will be in spotlight during public hearings after taking back seat in closed depositions

House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes leaves a closed-door deposition related to the House’s impeachment inquiry on Oct. 16. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes will soon shift from the passenger to the driver’s seat in the Republican defense of President Donald Trump as the House enters the public hearing portion of its impeachment inquiry next month.

Nunes, a nine-term California Republican who’s developed a distaste for the media in recent years as he’s become a staunch defender of the president, has taken a low-key role in the impeachment inquiry compared to House Oversight ranking member Jim Jordan, a Trump ally who is more friendly with the press.

Road ahead: More impeachment depositions, plus Turkey legislation and a Boeing hearing
House will also consider a Grand Canyon protection bill

The impeachment inquiry being overseen by House committee leaders including California’s Adam B. Schiff, will again take center stage this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump will again take center stage at the Capitol this week, though there will also be legislative push-back in the House against Turkey and its incursion into Syria against the Kurds.

The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have another full docket of depositions scheduled this week as part of their impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 23
Unauthorized Republicans storm secure room as Pentagon official Laura Cooper gives deposition about withheld military aid to Ukraine

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, arrives to the Capitol for a deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment investigators have begun questioning the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine about millions in military aid President Donald Trump allegedly withheld from the country this summer.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, provided testimony at the Capitol, complying with a subpoena issued by House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff. The Defense Department had ordered Cooper not to testify, and her testimony was delayed several hours Wednesday by disruptions from other House members. 

Turkey sanctions bills likely to move despite ceasefire
Shaky ceasefire agreement halting Syrian Kurd attacks appears to not appease lawmakers, who may still vote to impose sanctions

This picture taken on October 18, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa shows fire and smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces. The shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally. (OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

A shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally.

President Donald Trump was quick to declare victory Thursday after Ankara agreed to a five-day ceasefire in its attacks on Kurds in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters are supposed to use that window, which the Turkish government is describing not as a ceasefire but as a “pause,” to withdraw to roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border.

Pence says Turkey has agreed to cease fire in northern Syria
Trump has faced a bipartisan backlash over pulling U.S. troops from buffer zone along Turkey-Syria border

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on Thursday as Turkish forces try to extend their control of more of northern Syria, which is currently held by Syrian Kurds. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced later Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a cease fire in the area. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Turkish government that would allow for a cessation of fighting in northeast Syria where Syrian Kurds have been getting hammered for the last week.

Specifics of the ceasefire, which was to last for 120 hours, were initially scarce but Pence at a news conference in Ankara alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was already being implemented.

Sanctions on Turkey go front and center as Congress returns
Trump’s proposed sanctions appear to buy some breathing room with GOP critics

Turkish troops drive their armored vehicles into Syria on Monday. (Aaref Watad/AFP/Getty Images)

Bipartisan, bicameral sanctions against Turkey over its incursion into northern Syria against longtime Kurdish allies of the U.S. are high on the agenda as lawmakers return from recess Tuesday, even as President Donald Trump appeared to try to undercut the emerging unity on the issue.

While the sanctions and trade actions declared by the president Monday fall short of what lawmakers had been proposing, they do appear, at least initially, to have bought him breathing room with some top Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has been leading the sanctions charge in the Senate.

White House to House Dems: Impeachment inquiry ‘violates the Constitution’
Speaker Pelosi has rejected GOP claim that a floor vote is required to launch a formal probe

President Donald Trump and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte talk to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House on July 18. His administration notified House Democrats Tuesday it will not cooperate with their impeachment probe. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

White House officials announced Tuesday they will refuse to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry focused on President Donald Trump’s request that Ukraine’s president investigate Joe Biden and son Hunter.

The move amounts to the latest escalation in the three-week-old impeachment saga, with the White House arguing Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set up a “legally unsupported” probe by opting against holding a floor vote on whether to launch a formal impeachment inquiry.

Democratic polls show competitive House races in Texas
Surveys are early sign of Democratic groups’ willingness to spend in Lone Star State

Democrats are targeting GOP Rep. Michael McCaul in Texas’ 10th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of Republican-held House seats in the Texas suburbs represent fertile ground for competitive races in 2020, according to recent Democratic polling. 

The surveys in six GOP districts, shared first with CQ Roll Call, are a sign that Democratic outside groups are willing to spend resources in the Lone Star State, where party leaders believe they can make gains next year. The polls were commissioned by House Majority Forward, the nonprofit arm of House Majority PAC, a super PAC tied to the chamber’s Democratic leadership.