Bill Protecting Special Counsel Passes Out Of Senate Committee With Stronger Than Expected Republican Support
We’ve been covering this bill pretty extensively for several weeks now, even when it looked like it wouldn’t amount to anything. And it still probably won’t ever get a vote in the full Senate. But it is for sure gaining momentum.
The bill increases Congressional oversight and allows the Special Counsel to appeal to a federal court if he is fired by the President.
And it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 14-7. Why is that significant? Because it means 4 Republican Senators including Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa joined all Democrats voting in favor. (As late as last week it appeared the only Republicans voting for it would be the bill’s co-sponsors). Grassley further stated “I believe this bill should be considered by the full Senate”.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not agree. He doesn’t seem to have changed his position that it’s unnecessary and so he won’t bring it to the Senate floor. And it’s very unlikely it’d pass in the House anyway, or that the President would sign it.
Why do we feel it’s so important then? Because every step of the way, it’s picked up unexpected adherents, and given Senators a forum to voice their opposition to Trump’s threats against Mueller (even if they’re not willing to support the bill outright.)
And if Trump does take action against Mueller, they’ve now got something that’s out of Committee and could be brought to a full vote lickety-split. A far cry from having to start marking something up at that point.
Not to mention the fact that in Trump’s loose and far-ranging interview on Fox & Friends (where he gave himself an A+), he returned to one of his favorite themes: that the Attorney General should primarily be in the business of investigating and prosecuting the President’s political rivals and those who seek to challenge his authority. Trump saying: “You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it’s a disgrace. And our Justice Department–which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t–our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia”.
“Distrust And Verify”
That’s how Defense Secretary James Mattis described how he views any dealings with Iran, during testimony to Congress.
Mattis did not give his personal opinion on the Iran nuclear deal, nor would he say if Trump has decided to pull out or not,. But he did say he’s read the current deal 3 times from cover-to-cover (think the President has?) and pointed to certain components as being quite strong. Especially in matters related to inspections and access. Not to the point of expressly contradicting the President on it, but close. You can watch for yourself by clicking on the photo below.
Mattis also addressed the issue of whether pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal could derail nuclear talks with North Korea. We argued earlier this week it would not. And we’re happy to say the Defense Secretary (whom we respect a lot) shares that view.
Meanwhile in Korea, in a highly symbolic gesture, Kim Jong-un took a step into South Korea for the first time ever. That happened in the DMZ as a round of talks began between the North Korean leader and South Korean President Moon. The White House also released some photos of newly minted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s secret meeting with Kim in North Korea over Easter weekend.
EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Couldn’t Have Picked A Better Day To Testify Before Congress
Pruitt spent much of the day taking questions on Capitol Hill. But he was so overshadowed by Trump’s early morning “Fox & Friends” rant, votes on approving Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, and the bill to shield Special Counsel Mueller from Trump, and a guilty verdict in the Bill Cosby case, he was able to slither in and out with very little fanfare.
Pruitt insists he has “nothing to hide”. He blamed his recent scandals which range from taking a sweet deal on a condo from a lobbyist, to giving raises to employees he brought with him from Oklahoma after the White House said no, to squandering taxpayer cash on First Class plane tickets, to firing just about anyone who’s “scientifically oriented” or pushes back against any of his decisions, on three things:
- “A learning process”
- Fake news
- Attack on the “President’s agenda”
At the same time, Fox News reporter John Roberts Tweeted that Pruitt during his testimony was “contradicting what he told Fox News”.
You can watch Pruitt trying to explain everything away by clicking on the photo below (if you have the stomach for it):
Editorial: Liberals: Lay Off Of Doug Jones!
We were surprised at how many of our friends were moaning and groaning on Facebook and Twitter about how the Senate’s newest Democrat, Doug Jones let them down by voting to approve Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
Listen, the fact that Jones is in there at all is kind of a miracle: due in large part to Republicans nominating a bona fide pervert and lunatic in the Special Election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And Jones will have to run again in short order to keep his seat, so cut him a little slack. Especially when it wouldn’t have made a whit of difference which way he voted, since enough Democrats had already endorsed Pompeo that he would’ve been approved anyway. Pompeo won approval by a vote of 57-42 with Democrats Donnelly (IN), Heitkamp (ND), Manchin (WV), McCaskill (MO), and Nelson (FL), in addition to Jones voting in favor.
Sorry we’re go grumpy today. But we always get incredibly frustrated with folks who don’t know when and where to pick their battles. Learn.