Todd Ruger

Congress has long sought to bar foreign campaign contributions
From the early days of the republic to cracking down on Nazis, a longtime consensus

In the decades before President Donald Trump asked Ukraine to launch an investigation into his main political rival in the upcoming presidential election, Congress tried again and again to keep foreign nationals out of American elections and government decisions.

The lawmakers’ adversaries over the years sound as if they come straight out of Hollywood scripts: the Nazi party in the 1930s, the Philippine sugar industry in the 1960s, a Greek industrialist in the 1970s, an international businessman turned Chinese government agent in the 1990s.

Federal judge rules Trump border wall declaration unlawful
Diversion of military funds violates fiscal 2018 omnibus spending law

A federal judge ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to divert military funding to a southern border wall is unlawful.

In a 33-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David Briones said Trump’s effort to divert more than $6 billion that Congress provided for military projects violates the fiscal 2019 omnibus spending law. 

Court sides with House in fight for Trump financial records
Appeals court ruling is unlikely to be the end of the case

A federal appeals court on Friday sided with the House Oversight and Reform Committee over President Donald Trump in a fight to enforce a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s financial records.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that accounting firm Mazars USA must comply with the April 15 subpoena.

Democrats face consequences of skipping floor impeachment vote
House Democrats gave themselves political wiggle room, but the strategy also leaves open questions about the inquiry’s legitimacy

House Democrats gave themselves political wiggle room when they launched their impeachment inquiry without holding a floor vote, but that procedural strategy also left room for the White House and a federal judge to question the legitimacy of the push.

The White House, in a letter Tuesday criticized as advancing a legally flimsy argument, told the House it would not participate in an impeachment inquiry that hasn’t been authorized by the full House — which they argue means it isn’t “a valid impeachment proceeding.”

Judge questions keeping Mueller grand jury materials from House
During the hearing the judge voiced skepticism about the Justice Department’s reasons for opposing the release of materials

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday appeared ready to give the House Judiciary Committee access to at least some of the secret grand jury materials from the Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, throughout a two-hour hearing, voiced skepticism about the Justice Department’s reasons for opposing the release of materials to the committee as part of an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

Congressional inaction drives LGBT rights case at Supreme Court
Court to hear arguments over whether protections based on ‘sex’ apply to gay, lesbian and transgender workers

The Supreme Court confronts a major civil rights issue Tuesday over how broadly the justices should read the word “sex” in a 55-year-old anti-discrimination law — and a key aspect is Congress’ current push to clarify that the law covers LGBT individuals.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits private companies from discriminating against employees on the basis of “sex,” seen at the time as a historic step for women’s rights.

Are LGBTQ workers protected by the Civil Rights Act? Supreme Court will decide

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a trio of cases regarding LGBTQ workers' rights as they pertain to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under Title VII, workplace discrimination "on the basis of sex" is prohibited, and the ruling from the Supreme Court will determine whether LGBTQ individuals, particularly those who are transgender, are covered under these rules.

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics
Docket ‘almost guarantees’ court shifting further and faster to the right, expert says

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

House Democrats enlist risky legal move in impeachment probe
‘Adverse inference’ that missing evidence is damaging evidence carries political pitfalls

House Democrats have brandished a legal concept to help speed through an impeachment inquiry and pin wrongdoing on the Trump administration — but the strategy might create weaknesses in their case farther down the path to removing President Donald Trump from office.

“Adverse inference” usually plays out in civil lawsuits if one of the parties withholds some evidence, such as if they refuse to testify or if they destroy documents. In those situations, a judge can tell jurors that they can presume the missing evidence would have been bad for the side that didn’t provide it.

Impeachment inquiry likely to move faster than House lawsuits, making some moot
Intelligence Committee may not go to court if administration stonewalls its subpoenas

House Democrats expect their impeachment inquiry to outpace ongoing court cases that were once seen as critical to their investigations into President Donald Trump.

That means some of those lawsuits — teed up as major separation-of-powers battles between the House and the Trump administration — could fizzle out or end up being dropped.

Whistleblower raises new questions for appeals court nominee
Senate Democrats want to know if Steven Menashi was involved with Trump’s Ukraine call

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to know whether one of President Donald Trump’s appeals court nominees played a role in any of the events surrounding his controversial call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Steven Menashi works in the White House counsel’s office and is up for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, based in New York. In a letter Friday, the ten Democratic senators demanded to know if he knew or was involved in the July 25 call now at the center of an impeachment inquiry in the House.

Whistleblower complaint puts spotlight on White House lawyers
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff indicated the committee’s probe would look at the White House lawyers

A whistleblower complaint pushed White House officials and lawyers into the impeachment fray Thursday as potentially part of an administration cover-up, as the document described how they moved to “lock down” all records of President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The scant details of the lawyers’ decisions — coupled with the fact that the whistleblower had only heard of this information second-hand — raise more questions about their actions and make them potential witnesses as Democrats chase new leads in an impeachment investigation.

Crime or ‘high crime?’ Trump’s Ukraine call spurs legal debate
At heart of dispute is when does seeking foreign assistance in an election cross the line

The Justice Department sparked fresh debate Wednesday about when seeking foreign assistance in an election becomes a federal crime, with officials deciding President Donald Trump did not cross a legal line in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy now at the center of a Democratic push toward impeachment.

The department said its review of the call — in which Trump asked Ukraine to “do us a favor” and talk to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr about opening a potential corruption investigation connected to Trump’s main political rival — did not find a “thing of value” that could be quantified as campaign finance law requires.

Not much changes with 'official' impeachment inquiry, for now
Pelosi appears to double down on approach that has fallen short of raising public support

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement Tuesday that the House is in an “official impeachment inquiry” gave no hints of how or whether it would accelerate any Democratic effort to remove President Donald Trump from office.

Pelosi said she directed the six House committees conducting oversight of the Trump administration to move forward “under that umbrella” of an impeachment inquiry — but gave no details about how the day-to-day approach would differ.

First impeachment hearing becomes test of Judiciary Committee sway
Hearing looks unlikely to produce much, other than once again demonstrating White House resistance to congressional oversight

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler launched a series of hearings Tuesday highlighting President Donald Trump’s actions to educate the public and other lawmakers on reasons for impeachment — but the witnesses and the White House had other plans.

Two of the three witnesses don’t plan to show up on the orders of the White House, part of the Trump administration’s fight-all-the-subpoenas approach that leaves the committee to either file lawsuits to enforce the subpoenas or hold the witnesses in contempt.

Nadler revs up Trump inquiry
Lewandowski scheduled Tuesday; no time for probe of Kavanaugh

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to testify at an impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, but Chairman Jerrold Nadler expects he will try to “improperly exert” executive privilege on some questions.

Lewandowski — the scheduled star witness at the committee’s first hearing related to its impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump — played a lead role in an episode laid out in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on the president’s efforts to interfere in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

House Judiciary approves procedures for impeachment query
Nadler says hearings will start next week with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday agreed to a resolution for procedures related to an investigation into the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump, as Democrats and Republicans deeply were split over whether it meant anything at all.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, allowed that “there has been a good amount of confusion” about how the committee should talk about the ever-broadening investigation into allegations that Trump committed crimes and abused the power of his office.

House Judiciary Committee sends gun control bills to the floor
Lengthy, contentious markup highlights how Republican opposition could stall effort in Senate

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee advanced three more gun control bills Tuesday during a lengthy, often contentious and sometimes emotional markup that highlighted how Republican opposition could stall the efforts in the Senate.

The committee considered the legislation in the wake of an August in which 53 people were killed in mass shootings in the U.S., according to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York. The shootings prompted a national address from President Donald Trump and intensified calls for Congress to act.

Democrats still not working off same playbook on impeachment
Mixed messages abound about whether Judiciary is in an impeachment inquiry and where it’s headed

House Democrats are struggling to speak with one voice about impeachment, as members returned to Washington this week with mixed messages about whether the Judiciary Committee is already engaged in an impeachment inquiry and where that investigation is headed. 

Judiciary Democrats almost uniformly agree that their panel’s expanding investigation into President Donald Trump’s alleged crimes and abuse of power is an impeachment inquiry. Any disagreement about that definition that may exist among those two dozen members will likely be brought to light Thursday as the committee marks up a resolution defining procedures for its investigation.

Democrats line up three gun bills in early House Judiciary return
The bills could lob political pressure onto Senate Republicans to respond to recent mass shootings

The House Judiciary Committee will consider three gun control bills when it convenes September 4, an early return from a summer break that could lob political pressure onto Senate Republicans to respond to recent mass shootings.

The committee announced Friday it will mark up a bill to outlaw large capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices, along with a bill that would prevent people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from owning a weapon.