Posts tagged with "Judiciary Committee"

‘Let’s just get the goods’: Pelosi rallies dispirited Democrats

March 27, 2019

As spirits flagged following the completion of the Mueller report—and the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would block a resolution to release the full document to Congress—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) sought to rally her caucus behind closed doors Tuesday morning.

Be calm. Take a deep breath. Don’t become like them. We have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically,” Pelosi said during a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, referring to Republicans.

“Let’s just get the goods,” she said of Mueller’s report, according to an account released by Politico.

Pelosi’s comments came after the chairs of six key House committees  sent a letter on March 25 to Attorney General William Barr—who had provided them only with a four-page letter that outlined the “highlights” of the report and ruled out any consideration of charges of obstruction of justice.

It is vital for national security purposes that Congress be able to evaluate the full body of facts and evidence collected and evaluated by the Special Counsel,” the chairs said in the letter, advising Barr that, “We look forward to receiving the report in full no later than April 2, and to begin receiving the underlying evidence and documents the same day.”

The signatories of the letter included Representatives Jerrold Nadler (Judiciary Committee), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), Richard Neal (Ways and Means), Elijah Cumming (Oversight), Maxine Waters (Financial Services) and Eliot Engel (Foreign Affairs).

According to Barr, Mueller was unable to establish that Trump associates conspired with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he left unresolved the key issue of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

“The president was not exonerated,” Pelosi told Democrats, according to Politico, referring to Trump’s claim on Sunday, March 24, that Mueller’s report amounted to a “total exoneration.”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have suggested that the panel would move to issue a subpoena for the Mueller report if Barr refuses to turn it over by next Tuesday. Lawmakers said that they expect Barr to send Congress a heavily redacted version of the highly anticipated report.

They also highlighted the fact that Barr declined to recommend a criminal prosecution against Trump for obstruction of justice, noting his previously held view that a president could not obstruct justice.

“We have not seen the report. We’ve only gotten a summary that was created by a man who was appointed by the president, who clearly said before his appointment that he didn’t believe a sitting president could be charged, if you will, with obstruction of justice,” said Representative Val Demings (D-Florida), a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Research contact: @heathscope

Opposition to Kavanaugh escalates among voters, especially women

September 24, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh is facing mounting backlash to his Supreme Court nomination, especially among women—turning his hearings and confirmation vote into the most polarized judicial battle in more than a decade, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on September 20 has found.

Kavanaugh—who is embroiled in a controversy over sexual-assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford—is also the first court nominee in Journal/NBC polling dating to 2005 to draw more opposition than support among voters.

According to a report by the Journal late last week, the poll found that 38% of registered voters oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, up from 29% in a Journal/NBC poll last month. Some 34% said they support his nomination, which is about the same as in last month’s poll. More than one-quarter of voters say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

The poll was taken Sept. 16-19, after Blasey-Ford ‘s letter, accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, was released to the FBI by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been debating the terms of a hearing that would draw testimony from the nominee and his accuser.

Kavanaugh’s weak support among women could have political ramifications in an election year in which suburban women are considered an important, swing voting group, the Journal reported. While men split 41% to 33% in favor of the Kavanaugh nomination, support among women was far lower, with 28% favoring the nomination and 42% in opposition.

College-educated women are particularly sour on. Kavanaugh: 49% of them oppose his nomination, while 28% support it.

Analyzed by party, the difference of opinion is wider than for any other nominee since 2005, with 66% of Democrats opposing the Kavanaugh nomination and 73% of Republicans supporting it.

Research contact: @hookjan

Dems draw up an emergency plan to protect Mueller

August 24, 2018

Following a week during which the Russia investigation raised the level of rage and resistance at the White House, Congressional Democrats have drafted a wide-ranging contingency plan, should Special Counsel Robert Mueller be fired—or should President Donald Trump take other steps to quash the inquiry, such as firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses, NBC News reported on August 22.

It would start within minutes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller being axed—a cascade of activity emanating through the halls of Congress and over television airwaves, as well as citizen protests being prepped from the Virgin Islands to Alaska, the news outlet said.

Of top concern within the first 24 hours after such a move would be preventing Mueller’s documents from being destroyed and his team disbanded, according to the network’s interviews with nearly a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides, Democratic operatives, and attorneys involved in the planning.

Almost immediately, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would consult with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Democrats would demand a floor vote on a bill retroactively protecting Mueller and protecting his materials.

In both the Senate and House, rank-and-file Democrats would contact a list of sympathetic Republicans who have signaled privately that they’d be willing to act, should Trump pull the trigger, NBC said.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about how exactly and who and when and where,” Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told NBC News. “There have been several moments when it seemed imminent.”

And in cities across the country, rallies would be hastily scheduled for 5 p.m., if Mueller is fired before 2 p.m. on any given day. If he’s fired in the late afternoon or evening, the protests would be set for noon the following day.

The Democratic group MoveOn.org has been organizing 933 such rallies, NBC reported, with locations picked out and sponsors enlisted to handle logistics. The list includes rallies in big cities like Los Angeles, along with protests in more remote areas, such as the federal buildings in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Hilo, Hawaii.

Any success in protecting Mueller would depend heavily on a sudden change of heart by Republicans and their leaders, who have largely defended Trump and, to date, have clapped back, refusing to allow a full Senate vote on legislation to protect the investigation.

Still, Democrats are hoping that a Mueller firing would be considered so egregious that even Trump’s fellow Republicans would be pushed past a tipping point.

To speed up the response, congressional aides said language has been drafted for letters that House Democratic leaders would send to committee chairmen demanding hearings; to inspectors general demanding investigations; and to White House Counsel Don McGahn and the Justice Department demanding information about their communications before the firing.

Different Democrats have laid out different red lines for what actions by Trump would trigger a full-blown crisis response, NBC detailed. In December, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Trump would be breaching a red line if he removed Mueller from his job, pardoned key witnesses or shut down the investigation. MoveOn has added replacing Rosenstein or repealing the special counsel regulations to the list, but notes that firing Sessions—who remains recused from the Russia probe—would “be one step short of the break glass moment.”

The most likely legislative vehicle for trying to protect Mueller after the fact would be a compromise bill co-sponsored by Senators Chris Coons and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), along with GOP Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. That bill would put in statute that the special counsel could challenge his firing in U.S. District Court, and would require his “personnel, documents and materials” to be preserved in the meantime.

The bill specifically states that it’s retroactive — meaning that it could be passed after Mueller was fired and still protect him.

A poll of registered voters released by Fox News on August 23 shows approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is at 59%, up 11 points from July.What’s more, 40% expect the probe will find President Donald Trump committed criminal or impeachable offenses.

Research contact: @foxnewspoll 

Schumer: ‘Mainfestly unfair’ not to share Kavanaugh documents with entire Senate

August 22, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer (D-New York) said on August 20 that he is demanding that documents from SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh‘s White House tenure under President George W. Bush as Staff Secretary that currently are marked “committee confidential” should be shared with the entire Senate.

“I will … be submitting a request to the chairman and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for access for all senators to all of the Kavanaugh documents in the possession of the committee,” Schumer said, according to a report by The Hill on Monday.

He added that “withholding documents from the Senate and the American people under the bogus label of committee confidential is a dark development for the Senate.”

As the legal team for former President George W. Bush hands over documents on Kavanaugh’s work at the White House to the Judiciary Committee, the paperwork is initially marked “committee confidential.” The documents are then reviewed to determine which can be released publicly, The Hill said.

Democrats estimate that roughly 33% of the documents handed over by the Bush legal team to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are still marked “committee confidential”—preventing them being released publicly.

“It’s outrageous. Now, Chairman Grassley is usually a fair-minded man. …But when it comes to this area, Chairman Grassley’s actions are manifestly unfair, not typical of his character. I understand the pressure he is under, but that doesn’t forgive the result,” Schumer added.

In a strictly partisan move, Republicans have dismissed the attacks, arguing that Democrats have focused on Kavanaugh’s paperwork because they’ve struggled to find a policy issue that could sink his nomination.

Grassley called out Schumer in a tweet saying any senator was able to stop by the Judiciary Committee to review the documents.

A spokesperson for Grassley also called accepting documents as “committee confidential” an “old hat.”

“Now, as in the past, the committee has agreed to accept material at least initially on a committee confidential basis in order to facilitate timely access and review. Doing so ensures that members of the committee have access to records that presidents may otherwise privilege. This procedure is old hat and the Democrats know it,” the spokesperson added.

According to a CNN poll released on August 16, only 37% of Americans say they’d like to see the Senate vote in favor of his confirmation. Kavanaugh’s support is the lowest in polling dating back to Robert Bork’s nomination by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Research contact: @jennagiesta