POLITICO - TOP Stories
Congress: All the latest news
November 23rd, 2017, 07:54 AM
Playbook: This is what's on the president's mind this morning...
November 23rd, 2017, 07:54 AM
How Donald Trump Ruined Thanksgiving
November 23rd, 2017, 07:54 AM
A new study finds that after last year’s scorched-earth presidential campaign, Americans could barely stand to look each other in the eye.
Why Turkey Feels Burned By Trump
November 23rd, 2017, 07:54 AM
The Turks thought the president would be their friend. Instead, ties with Washington have only gotten worse.
Barton: Capitol Police investigating possible crime against me
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

Texas Rep. Joe Barton, having already apologized over a nude picture of him circulating online, said later Wednesday that the Capitol Police is investigating a potential crime against him involving explicit materials.

“Today, the Capitol Police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation and I have accepted," the longtime Republican congressman said in a statement later Wednesday.

Barton's statement followed a report in the Washington Post. A woman told the Post she had a recording of a 2015 conversation in which he threatened to report her to the Capitol Police to protect himself after their relationship had ended. She also told the newspaper that she had received explicit material from the congressman during a relationship that lasted several years.

In the Post article, Barton is quoted as saying to her: "I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation."

The Post said the woman spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In response, Barton said: "The Dallas Morning News has identified a potential crime against me and the transcript referenced in the Washington Post may be evidence."

He also reiterated that the relationship was "consensual," and that when it came to an end, "she threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence in retaliation." His statement concluded: "Because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment."


Earlier in the day, Barton had apologized to his constituents over the explicit photo of him circulating online.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton said in a statement first reported by the Texas Tribune. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”

The 68-year-old Barton has represented the Dallas area in the House since 1985. He is a former chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.


Media outlets reassess their newsroom cultures
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
Hotlines, new training procedures mark news organizations’ responses to wave of sexual harassment claims.
Federal court overturns Texas ban on abortion procedure
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge on Wednesday overturned Texas’ ban of a common second trimester abortion procedure, setting back the state's latest effort to limit abortion.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel said that the ban on “dilation and evacuation” abortions, approved by the Texas Legislature in May, would force women seeking second trimester abortions to resort to riskier, invasive alternatives.

The Texas ban, part of a sweeping abortion law known as Senate Bill 8, "intervenes in the medical process of abortion prior to viability in an unduly burdensome manner," wrote Yeakel, a George W. Bush appointee, in his decision.

The ruling comes a year after the Supreme Court struck down a set of previous abortion restrictions in Texas and a decade after the Supreme Court upheld a ban on so-called partial birth abortions, another second trimester procedure. In his opinion, Yeakel pointed out the Supreme Court cited the availability of "D&E" abortions as evidence the partial birth restriction would not place an undue burden on women seeking the procedure.

Texas said it will appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has typically upheld the state’s previous attempts to restrict abortion. The ruling was issued on the same day an injunction blocking the law was set to expire.

"We will defend Senate Bill 8 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.


In a “D&E” procedure, the fetus is dismembered before being removed. In a five-day trial on the Texas law earlier this month, attorneys for Texas and abortion providers challenging the law focused on a provision that would require doctors to carry out an alternative method of terminating a fetus before extracting it from the womb.

Eight states, including Texas, have passed bans on dilation and evacuation abortions; the bans face legal challenges in six of those states. Last month, an Alabama court also overturned the state’s ban on the procedure, saying it poses “significant health risks” to women who want an abortion.

Texas, in defense of the ban, said that it regulates only “the moment of the death” to ensure that the fetus experiences less pain during the procedure.

“The state has a legitimate interest in banning the living dismemberment of an unborn child,” said Darren McCarty, an attorney for the state, during closing arguments.

Abortion providers challenging the ban questioned the safety of alternative procedures sometimes used for second trimester abortions, including cutting the umbilical cord; injecting potassium chloride into the fetal heart; and using digoxin, a drug injected into a fetus to stop its heartbeat. Doctors they called as witnesses argued requirements for physicians to perform another procedure before extracting a fetus would result in increased complications such as infection.

In his opinion, Yeakel wrote that the state's "legitimate interest in fetal life" does not allow it to require an additional medical procedure "not driven by medical necessity" to complete a standard D&E abortion. He said that the alternatives would be particularly onerous in Texas, which already requires patients to wait 24 hours after a physician consultation to receive an abortion.


The ban “turns back the clock” on advances in medical care, said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, during closing arguments for the abortion providers.

Crepps, who is also challenging similar bans in Kansas and Louisiana, said the case in Texas is a “flash point” for abortion rights. The decision could deter other states considering similar bans, she said in an interview.

“When legislatures come back in January, I hope that this will give them pause and make them think about whether this is how they want to spend legislative resources,” she said.


White House says Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visit isn’t a vacation
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
The president spent his first full day back in Florida since April at his Trump International Golf Club.
Philly mayor calls Trump 'a bully' and 'punk' over curbed immigration protections
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney hurled personal insults at President Donald Trump on Wednesday, calling him a “bully” and “punk” over his administration’s decision to end the temporary protective status of Haitians and other immigrants.

Kenney called the decision to terminate the humanitarian status of nearly 60,000 Haitians who fled to the U.S. after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the island in 2010 “un-American” and called on the administration to reverse the decision.

“There’s no compassion whatsoever in the White House,” Kenney said during a City Hall address in Philadelphia. “I'm just beside myself with sadness because our president is a bully, our president is a punk, and he just doesn't get it.”

He added: “I don't know where he was raised, but his family didn’t do a good job raising that guy.”

The acting secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, facing a Thanksgiving deadline, declined to renew the protective status of the immigrants, who may now remain in the U.S. until July 2019 but could face deportation thereafter.


In July, after renewing their protective status until January 2018, then-Secretary John Kelly cautioned that further renewal might not be necessary.

“I believe there are indications that Haiti — if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace — may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018,” wrote Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, referring to temporary protected status.

Kenney, a Democrat elected in 2016, has blasted the president in the past, calling Trump “unstable” and “unhinged” since he took office.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Pressure mounts to unmask Hill harassers
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
Lawmakers in both parties say members of Congress shouldn't be allowed to use taxpayer money to settle harassment claims without being named.
NPR wins suit for FEMA flood program data
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
The Federal Emergency Management Agency must make public the names of people who sold property through a flooding mitigation program and will be required to disclose the exact locations of those properties, a federal judge ruled this week.
How Obama and Trump Left a Vacuum in the Middle East
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
America’s absence is driving old enemies together, and creating new dangers.
Moore trumpets president's near-endorsement
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
The GOP Senate nominee in Alabama is parroting Trump's attacks on his Democratic opponent.
‘Young Turks’ reporter vows to sue over his firing
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

An ousted reporter for the popular progressive program “The Young Turks” says he intends to sue the show over its response to sexual assault allegations leveled against him, escalating a rift between the outlet and its former employee.

Jordan Chariton, a prominent face of the YouTube-native program and a rising star in the left-wing media sphere, announced earlier this week he’d been terminated from the show on Friday, less than two days after the allegations surfaced online.

Last week, a former employee at Truth Against the Machine, a news organization founded by Chariton, accused the former TYT reporter of sexual assault, allegations first published in HuffPost’s contributors section. The piece, written by activist Christian Chiakulas, was taken down after Chariton cast it as defamatory and false online.

Cenk Uygur, the founder and face of "The Young Turks," said during an announcement on the matter Wednesday that while the news organization did not investigate whether any assault took place between Chariton and his former co-worker at Truth Against the Machine, he committed “a clear firing offense” by sexually engaging with a subordinate at his other company. “That is clearly unacceptable,” he added.

Uygur also said they had uncovered that Chariton did not fully disclose the extent of his involvement with Truth Against the Machine, something he cast as “deeply troubling.”

“Here’s why we did it: to protect the people that work here and to make sure we have professional employment in place,” Uygur said of the firing.


Though Chariton has yet to follow through on his legal threat, he has staunchly denied the assault allegations, writing in a detailed Nov. 16 post on Medium that the encounter with his former colleague was “consensual.” Chariton claimed the allegations had been concocted by a group that held a “vendetta against me for unrelated reasons have been targeting my professional colleagues and plotting to try and ‘take me down.’”

Chariton said last week that he “proactively” informed his employer of the looming accusations and that they immediately placed him on administrative leave and hired a private investigator to look into the matter — an investigation a representative for Chariton said Wednesday in an email was never "started, much less carried out." Within two days, Chariton was out at TYT.

In a statement provided by Chariton on Tuesday, a representative for the former TYT correspondent said the reporter “believes he has no choice but to pursue legal action” against “The Young Turks” and other media outlets reporting on “false sexual misconduct allegations.”

“Being found guilty-by-tweet is unrecoverable. How do you have a career after that?” Chariton wrote.

Chariton said he also intends to sue The Intercept, which reported on his termination Monday, citing an internal memo that confirmed the network had parted ways with him. A representative for Chariton said Wednesday the outlet "referred" to the TYT investigation despite its not having taken place.

Uygur pushed back against those claims Wednesday, saying that Chariton "misstated that we didn’t do an investigation” and that their internal probe turned up other problematic behavior.

The episode is the latest in a sweeping wave of reports detailing accusations of sexual misconduct by powerful men in the media and beyond.

On Tuesday, CBS announced it was terminating the employment of legendary broadcaster Charlie Rose after eight women came forward with sexual harassment claims against him during his time hosting the “Charlie Rose” show on PBS. CBS reported Tuesday that three more Rose accusers have since come forward with claims regarding his time at the network.


New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush, a former POLITICO employee, was suspended Monday after a Vox report cited allegations of sexual misconduct against him, including claims that he made unwanted sexual advances toward young female employees during his time at POLITICO.

NBC analyst Mark Halperin, former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, NPR News chief Michael Oreskes and Vox editorial director Lockhart Steele are among the other men to face allegations of sexual impropriety in recent weeks. Halperin, Oreskes and Steele have all been terminated as a result of their alleged misdeed. In October, a new media venture terminated its relationship with Wieseltier, POLITICO reported.

Michael Calderone contributed to this report.


GOP congressman Barton apologizes for nude selfie
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) admitted Wednesday that a nude picture of him circulating online is authentic and apologized to his constituents. Hours later, the congressman said Capitol Police is investigating whether the publication of the explicit photo online was a possible crime.

The incident is an embarrassing chapter in the long congressional career of Barton, 68, who was first elected to the House in 1984.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton, 68, said in a statement first reported by the Texas Tribune. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”

A spokesman later told the Dallas Morning News that he has no plans to step down.

Later Wednesday, the Washington Post reported a recording of a 2015 conversation in which Barton threatened to report her to the Capitol Police to protect himself after their relationship had ended. She also told the newspaper that she had received explicit material from the congressman during a relationship that lasted several years.

"I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation," Barton said, according to the Post.

In response, Barton said: "The Dallas Morning News has identified a potential crime against me and the transcript referenced in the Washington Post may be evidence."

Barton, one of the House’s most conservative members, began representing the Dallas suburbs in 1985. Barton’s statement came just days after the Dallas Morning News ran an upbeat profile under the headline “Why Rep. Joe Barton sticks around as other Texans kiss Congress goodbye.”

“I’m the odd duck who didn’t quit,” he told the newspaper just weeks after a handful of other veteran Texas lawmakers announced their retirements. “Shows how much sense I have.”

In a reelection announcement in early November, Barton, a former chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, said he hoped to continue to work on the issues he’s pursued throughout his career.


“Much work remains in Washington and I hope to carry on the torch for the 6th District,” he said.

Barton's uncertain future follows a Texas exodus that began when GOP Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Lamar Smith announced plans to exit at the end of their terms. Smith, like Barton, started his congressional career in the 1980s; Hensarling started serving in 2003. Rep. Ted Poe, another Texas Republican who's been in Congress since 2005, also announced his retirement earlier this month.

Barton is one of just 10 remaining House Republicans who began his tenure in the 1980s, and he’s the fifth-longest-serving Republican overall. He’s been a leading conservative voice on energy policy and is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Over the years, Barton has infuriated critics with his skepticism of climate science and his swipe at the Obama administration in 2010 for what he called a “shakedown” of oil giant BP after its massive Gulf of Mexico spill.

The Texas lawmaker and two of his four children were also on the field of a congressional GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia in June when a gunman opened fire, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and sending dozens of lawmakers, aides and friends scurrying for safety. Barton’s 10-year-old son Jack hid under a nearby truck until Capitol Police rushed the shooter, and then was shielded by lawmakers and aides in the first-base dugout until the gunman was taken down.

If Barton retires, his district, one of the most reliably red in the country, is likely to remain in Republican hands. Since 1984, Barton has never earned less than 56 percent of the vote and has earned more than 60 percent in 13 of his 17 elections.


GOP congressman Barton apologizes for nude selfie
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) admitted Wednesday that a nude picture of him circulating online is authentic and apologized to his constituents. Hours later, the congressman said Capitol Police is investigating whether the publication of the explicit photo online was a possible crime.

The incident is an embarrassing chapter in the long congressional career of Barton, 68, who was first elected to the House in 1984.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton, 68, said in a statement first reported by the Texas Tribune. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”

A spokesman later told the Dallas Morning News that he has no plans to step down.

Later Wednesday, the Washington Post reported a recording of a 2015 conversation in which Barton threatened to report her to the Capitol Police to protect himself after their relationship had ended. She also told the newspaper that she had received explicit material from the congressman during a relationship that lasted several years.

"I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation," Barton said, according to the Post.

In response, Barton said: "The Dallas Morning News has identified a potential crime against me and the transcript referenced in the Washington Post may be evidence."

Barton, one of the House’s most conservative members, began representing the Dallas suburbs in 1985. Barton’s statement came just days after the Dallas Morning News ran an upbeat profile under the headline “Why Rep. Joe Barton sticks around as other Texans kiss Congress goodbye.”

“I’m the odd duck who didn’t quit,” he told the newspaper just weeks after a handful of other veteran Texas lawmakers announced their retirements. “Shows how much sense I have.”

In a reelection announcement in early November, Barton, a former chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, said he hoped to continue to work on the issues he’s pursued throughout his career.


“Much work remains in Washington and I hope to carry on the torch for the 6th District,” he said.

Barton's uncertain future follows a Texas exodus that began when GOP Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Lamar Smith announced plans to exit at the end of their terms. Smith, like Barton, started his congressional career in the 1980s; Hensarling started serving in 2003. Rep. Ted Poe, another Texas Republican who's been in Congress since 2005, also announced his retirement earlier this month.

Barton is one of just 10 remaining House Republicans who began his tenure in the 1980s, and he’s the fifth-longest-serving Republican overall. He’s been a leading conservative voice on energy policy and is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Over the years, Barton has infuriated critics with his skepticism of climate science and his swipe at the Obama administration in 2010 for what he called a “shakedown” of oil giant BP after its massive Gulf of Mexico spill.

The Texas lawmaker and two of his four children were also on the field of a congressional GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia in June when a gunman opened fire, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and sending dozens of lawmakers, aides and friends scurrying for safety. Barton’s 10-year-old son Jack hid under a nearby truck until Capitol Police rushed the shooter, and then was shielded by lawmakers and aides in the first-base dugout until the gunman was taken down.

If Barton retires, his district, one of the most reliably red in the country, is likely to remain in Republican hands. Since 1984, Barton has never earned less than 56 percent of the vote and has earned more than 60 percent in 13 of his 17 elections.


Trump and congressional leaders to hold talks to avoid shutdown
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders will meet next week to try to hammer out a year-end agreement to avert a government shutdown, according to multiple sources, as Capitol Hill careens toward a legislative pile-up next month.

The so-called Big Four — Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — haven’t even agreed on total government spending levels that would allow appropriators to write a massive funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year.

That means a short-term funding extension to keep the government operating beyond a Dec. 8 deadline is all but inevitable. Congressional leaders would likely need to reach an agreement on the top-line figures by early next week for there to be any chance of finishing an omnibus spending bill in December.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m., according to congressional sources and a White House official. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters later said in a statement, "The President will be meeting with congressional leaders next week to discuss end-of-year legislative issues."

In addition to having to move a must-pass bill to fund the government, Republicans hope to pass a sweeping rewrite of the tax code by Christmas.

Further complicating matters is the ongoing dispute over the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era initiative that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Trump has announced that DACA permits will expire beginning in March, although immigration advocates have said scores of current DACA recipients have already lost protections because they weren’t able to get their status renewed before an October deadline.


One source familiar with the negotiations said Democrats, particularly Pelosi, have pushed aggressively to include a DACA fix to a short-term continuing resolution that would keep the government open beyond Dec. 8. A Democratic leadership aide said Pelosi has not asked specifically for a DACA fix to be attached to a short-term extension, although she and Schumer have been publicly adamant that a legislative solution for DACA needs to pass Congress next month.

Democratic leaders have also insisted on ensuring that any agreement to raise defense spending above sequester levels also boosts funding for domestic programs.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.


Legal complaint filed over Conway's comments on Moore race
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
White House says Trump counselor was speaking to issues and not endorsing or opposing any candidate
Trump revives his Twitter fights with black athletes
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
The president, back at his Mar-a-Lago resort for the first time since April, lashed out again at kneeling NFL players and at the father of a UCLA basketball player recently released from a Chinese jail.
First House Democrat calls on Conyers to resign
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM
Two other Democrats said the veteran Michigan lawmaker should step down from his post as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Poll: Plurality supports House tax plan, but many expect to pay more
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

A plurality of voters supports the tax overhaul the House passed last week, though many also believe it will raise their taxes, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Based on what they’ve seen, read or heard about the bill, 39 percent of those surveyed said they “strongly” or “somewhat” support it, while 31 percent oppose it and the rest are undecided. Support ticked up to 41 percent and opposition dropped to 29 percent after respondents were told about key details of the plan.

However, 36 percent expect to pay more federal, state and local taxes under the plan, despite Republicans touting it as a tax cut for most Americans. Twenty percent said it would lower their taxes and 19 percent said they would stay about the same. Twenty-five percent weren’t sure what affect it would have on them or offered no opinion.

Most of those who expect to pay more — 44 percent of the respondents — put their income at $100,000 or more. Among those with $50,000 to $100,000 in annual income, 39 percent said they would pay more. And 33 percent of those earning less than $50,000 expect a tax hike.

As in past polls on tax reform, support or opposition to the House plan broke sharply along partisan lines. Among Republicans, 69 percent back the House bill and 10 percent oppose it. Democratic opposition stood at 48 percent, and support at 24 percent. Thirty-two percent of independents said they support the plan and 28 percent oppose it.


The respondents’ views of how the tax plan would affect them personally also fell along partisan lines, with 47 percent of Democrats expecting a tax hike compared to 29 percent of Republicans.Among the most popular provisions of the legislation: Boosting the child tax credit (64 percent support), doubling the standard deduction (59 percent), cutting the tax rate for many small businesses (58 percent), and maintaining a top tax rate of 39.6 percent for married couples earning more than $1 million a year (48 percent).

On one of the most contentious parts of the House bill, largely eliminating the state and local tax deduction while maintaining a property tax deduction capped at $10,000, a plurality of those surveyed — 35 percent — said it should not be in the bill. Thirty-two percent said it should be part of the bill and the rest had no opinion or didn’t know.

Most voters — 38 percent — oppose the plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. But 35 percent support it.

The poll of 2,586 registered voters was conducted Nov. 16-19. It has an error margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.

More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents — Toplines: http://politi.co/2jJyZnX | Crosstabs: http://politi.co/2jglVT4


Kelley Paul: Assault on husband was 'a deliberate, blindside attack'
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

Kelley Paul called the assault on her husband Sen. Rand Paul "a deliberate, blindside attack" on Wednesday, disputing a characterization by the alleged attacker's legal team that the altercation was "regrettable dispute between two neighbors."

"This was not a 'scuffle,' a 'fight' or an 'altercation,' as many in the media falsely describe it. It was a deliberate, blindside attack," Kelley Paul wrote in a an op-ed for CNN published Wednesday.

Kelley Paul also lamented the physical toll the incident has had on her husband, saying she has "been distraught over seeing him suffer like this."

"The average person takes 20,000 breaths a day. Since Nov. 3, my husband, Rand Paul, has not taken a single one without pain. He has not had a single night's sleep uninterrupted by long periods of difficult breathing or excruciating coughing," she added.

The Kentucky senator returned to Congress last Monday, 10 days after he suffered six broken rips and damage to his lung stemming from an assault at his Bowling Green home. Authorities say Rene Boucher, Rand Paul’s next door neighbor for the past 17 years, assaulted the senator from behind during the Nov. 3 incident, a charge to which Boucher has pleaded not guilty.


Boucher's lawyer cast the alleged assault in a different light in a statement released earlier this month.

“It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial,” Matthew Baker said.

Kelley Paul described a distant relationship between herself, her husband and their next door neighbor, writing Wednesday that she and the senator had not "spoken to the attacker in 10 years ... other than a casual wave from the car."


Why the Law Might Not Allow the Senate to Expel Roy Moore
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

President Donald Trump might be defending GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore against multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, but many Senate Republicans leaders have lined up in opposition to him. “I believe the women,” declared Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week, calling for Moore to withdraw from the race. GOP senators are even openly discussing the possibility of expelling Moore if he is elected—a Senate power not exercised since the Civil War.

But expelling Moore might not be as easy as many Republicans seem to think, at least from a legal perspective.

One Supreme Court case provides a clue about the limits that may be placed on the Senate if it attempts either to deny Moore a seat or to expel him once he has been seated. In 1967, a special House committee determined that New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell’s staff had falsified travel expenses and caused illegal payments to his wife. Rather than censure and fine Powell for this misconduct, the House voted by a simple majority to exclude—meaning, refuse to seat—Powell after his reelection. Powell sued, and when Powell v. McCormack made it to the Supreme Court, the court held that the House had acted illegally. The court held that while, according to Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, “each House shall be the judge of the ... qualifications of its Members,” those qualifications are limited to age, citizenship and residency, as stipulated by Article I, Section 2. In other words, as long as Powell fit the age, citizenship and residency criteria for serving in Congress, the House had no right to refuse to grant him his seat.

The court did allow, however, that the House could have tried to exercise its power to “punish its Members for disorderly behavior and with the concurrence of two thirds expel a Member,” under the separate power conferred on Congress by Article I, Section 5. But that, of course, would have required a two-thirds vote.

This is what the Senate appears to be contemplating if Moore is elected—to seat him first and then commence an ethics investigation based on the allegations of sexual misconduct, which if proved could form the basis for expulsion.

But the power of the Senate to proceed in this manner is doubtful for several reasons. Even though Powell dealt with exclusion rather than expulsion, in that case the court was clear that the framers intended age, citizenship and residency to be the exclusive qualifications for office—and that the legislative branch could not alter or add to those qualifications. In following English parliamentary practice, the founders believed that fixing the qualifications would prevent the will of the electorate from being thwarted by an “improper and dangerous power in the Legislature,” as Madison put it. While the legislature was empowered to enforce these specific qualifications, it was for the most part not permitted to “judge” any other criteria. That was up to the people electing their representatives.

There is one exception. The Constitution does allow Congress to to expel a senator or congressman for “disorderly behavior.” And yet the Senate has a problem here when it comes to Moore. That power has not been thought to extend to conduct that occurs before the offending member enters Congress—or even that took place during a previous congressional session.

Several historical precedents illustrate this principle. In 1798, the Federalists passed the Sedition Act, and Rep. Matthew Lyon, a fierce Anti-Federalist from Vermont, was prosecuted for accusing the president of an “unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adoration and selfish avarice.” He was convicted and sentenced to four months in prison and a $1,000 fine, but he was reelected while inside his cell. Upon Lyon’s triumphant return to Congress, the federalists moved to expel him. They failed to muster two thirds, however, the minority arguing that his constituents elected him with full knowledge of his conviction, which the House must respect. Similarly, Orsamus Matteson—deemed guilty of soliciting bribes—resigned from the 34th Congress 1858 to escape expulsion but was reelected to the 35th and seated whereupon a motion to expel was offered. Yet the majority report of the committee considering the matter concluded that the proceedings in the previous Congress constituted no disqualification, since he had committed no offense against the present Congress and the people of his district knew the charges when they elected him.

Can the Senate get away with expelling Moore regardless of these precedents? Maybe. Courts do not weigh in easily to matters “textually committed” to another branch, absent some countervailing constitutional right. Moore might have a tough legal case to make. But so would the Senate. The Powell case looms as an important warning that the power to expel might not be expansive enough to empower the Senate to disregard the will of the electorate—however distasteful it finds the conduct at issue.


Why the Law Might Not Allow the Senate to Expel Roy Moore
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

President Donald Trump might be defending GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore against multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, but many Senate Republicans leaders have lined up in opposition to him. “I believe the women,” declared Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week, calling for Moore to withdraw from the race. GOP senators are even openly discussing the possibility of expelling Moore if he is elected—a Senate power not exercised since the Civil War.

But expelling Moore might not be as easy as many Republicans seem to think, at least from a legal perspective.

One Supreme Court case provides a clue about the limits that may be placed on the Senate if it attempts either to deny Moore a seat or to expel him once he has been seated. In 1967, a special House committee determined that New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell’s staff had falsified travel expenses and caused illegal payments to his wife. Rather than censure and fine Powell for this misconduct, the House voted by a simple majority to exclude—meaning, refuse to seat—Powell after his reelection. Powell sued, and when Powell v. McCormack made it to the Supreme Court, the court held that the House had acted illegally. The court held that while, according to Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, “each House shall be the judge of the ... qualifications of its Members,” those qualifications are limited to age, citizenship and residency, as stipulated by Article I, Section 2. In other words, as long as Powell fit the age, citizenship and residency criteria for serving in Congress, the House had no right to refuse to grant him his seat.

The court did allow, however, that the House could have tried to exercise its power to “punish its Members for disorderly behavior and with the concurrence of two thirds expel a Member,” under the separate power conferred on Congress by Article I, Section 5. But that, of course, would have required a two-thirds vote.

This is what the Senate appears to be contemplating if Moore is elected—to seat him first and then commence an ethics investigation based on the allegations of sexual misconduct, which if proved could form the basis for expulsion.

But the power of the Senate to proceed in this manner is doubtful for several reasons. Even though Powell dealt with exclusion rather than expulsion, in that case the court was clear that the framers intended age, citizenship and residency to be the exclusive qualifications for office—and that the legislative branch could not alter or add to those qualifications. In following English parliamentary practice, the founders believed that fixing the qualifications would prevent the will of the electorate from being thwarted by an “improper and dangerous power in the Legislature,” as Madison put it. While the legislature was empowered to enforce these specific qualifications, it was for the most part not permitted to “judge” any other criteria. That was up to the people electing their representatives.

There is one exception. The Constitution does allow Congress to to expel a senator or congressman for “disorderly behavior.” And yet the Senate has a problem here when it comes to Moore. That power has not been thought to extend to conduct that occurs before the offending member enters Congress—or even that took place during a previous congressional session.

Several historical precedents illustrate this principle. In 1798, the Federalists passed the Sedition Act, and Rep. Matthew Lyon, a fierce Anti-Federalist from Vermont, was prosecuted for accusing the president of an “unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adoration and selfish avarice.” He was convicted and sentenced to four months in prison and a $1,000 fine, but he was reelected while inside his cell. Upon Lyon’s triumphant return to Congress, the federalists moved to expel him. They failed to muster two thirds, however, the minority arguing that his constituents elected him with full knowledge of his conviction, which the House must respect. Similarly, Orsamus Matteson—deemed guilty of soliciting bribes—resigned from the 34th Congress 1858 to escape expulsion but was reelected to the 35th and seated whereupon a motion to expel was offered. Yet the majority report of the committee considering the matter concluded that the proceedings in the previous Congress constituted no disqualification, since he had committed no offense against the present Congress and the people of his district knew the charges when they elected him.

Can the Senate get away with expelling Moore regardless of these precedents? Maybe. Courts do not weigh in easily to matters “textually committed” to another branch, absent some countervailing constitutional right. Moore might have a tough legal case to make. But so would the Senate. The Powell case looms as an important warning that the power to expel might not be expansive enough to empower the Senate to disregard the will of the electorate—however distasteful it finds the conduct at issue.


Poll: Half think Franken should resign
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

A majority of voters think the Senate Ethics Committee should investigate Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), and half think Franken should resign from the Senate, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

The poll was conducted after radio personality Leeann Tweeden alleged that Franken groped her in 2006, prior to his Senate tenure — but before a second woman, Lindsay Menz, said that Franken touched her inappropriately while he was a senator in 2010. Still, 66 percent of voters said the ethics panel should probe Franken’s conduct, while only 15 percent think the committee should not look into the matter.

Fully 50 percent of voters think Franken, who has served in the Senate since 2009, should resign, and 22 percent think he should not resign.

The Franken results, though, underscore a partisan divide in how voters view allegations of sexual misconduct against political figures. Democratic voters are more likely to find allegations against Democrats credible and endorse significant punishments than Republican voters are when it comes to allegations against GOP lawmakers and candidates.

When it comes to Franken, the partisan gap is narrow: Forty-nine percent of Democrats think he should resign, along with 56 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of independents.

Contrast Franken with Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore, however. A 57 percent majority of voters say the Senate should expel Moore if he wins the Dec. 12 special election, but the percentage of Democrats who want Moore expelled (73 percent) is significantly greater than the percentage of Republicans (46 percent) who think he should be kicked out of the Senate.


There are also small differences by party in voter perceptions of the charges of sexual misconduct by former President Bill Clinton. Similar percentages of Democrats (65 percent), Republicans (69 percent) and independents (63 percent) find those allegations to be credible.

But compare that with the allegations against President Donald Trump. "Our polling reveals a stark contrast in how Democrats and Republicans view allegations against politicians from their respective political parties,” said Morning Consult co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “For example, while 69 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats say the sexual assault allegations against Clinton are credible, only 37 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats say the same about allegations made against Trump."

Much of the recent attention on sexual harassment has focused on the entertainment industry and politics, and the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows voters think harassment is a significant problem in both worlds. A 59 percent majority of voters say sexual harassment and misconduct is a big problem in Hollywood, and 43 percent say it’s a big problem in the federal government and Washington.

Smaller percentages say sexual harassment is a big problem in other industries and levels of government, including the news media (36 percent), state governments (31 percent), the finance industry (29 percent), local governments (28 percent) and the tech industry (27 percent).


Asked about their own workplace, 16 percent of voters say sexual harassment is a big problem: Twenty-one percent of men, and 12 percent of women.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted Nov. 16-19, surveying 2,586 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.

More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents — Toplines: http://politi.co/2jJyZnX | Crosstabs: http://politi.co/2jglVT4


Get smart on the tax debate
November 22nd, 2017, 07:54 AM

Subscribe to POLITICO Money on Apple Podcasts here. | Subscribe via Stitcher here.


In this week’s POLITICO Money podcast, we go deep into the big tax debate with an all-star reporter roundtable featuring POLITICO’s Nancy Cook, Seung Min Kim and Brian Faler. We unpack the GOP effort from every angle so you can sound smart when your Thanksgiving conversation invariably turns to marginal tax rates and corporate hiring behavior.

Among the issues we explore: Why are Republicans doing this now when the economy seems to be doing fine? Will it really light a fire under growth and drive up wages? Can the GOP cross the finish line and get a bill to President Donald Trump’s desk? And if they do, will they live to regret it given polls show most Americans don’t like what Republicans are doing? We also look at whether Democrats will remain united in opposition.


And we try to explain, as best as anyone can right now, who is getting a tax cut and who is getting and tax hike and why.


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