Intelligence

Steven Mnuchin makes case to GOP to allow easing of sanctions on Russian companies
Visited Senate Republican lunch ahead of votes on Schumer resolution

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged the Senate to ease relief on Russian companies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is making the case to Senate Republicans that they should stop an effort to block sanctions relief against three Russian companies.

But as he left Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch, Mnuchin did not seem certain about the vote count ahead of an expected Tuesday afternoon vote on a motion to proceed to a resolution disapproving of the sanctions relief proposed for En+ Group plc, UC Rusal plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

Adam Schiff hiring full-time team to investigate Trump’s Russia connections
House Intelligence Committee chairman hiring more investigators to revive House Russia probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is adding more investigative manpower to his committee staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is sinking panel resources into a robust investigative staff to revive the probe into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia with roughly seven committee staffers directing their energy full-time.

Schiff and the Democrats have made offers to six new staffers, CBS News reported, including a corruption expert and a former prosecutor. The committee is still looking to hire six more people as Schiff restructures the subcommittee and plans targeted lines of inquiry into the president and his 2016 campaign staff’s connections with Russian officials.

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

Virginia senators concerned that shutdown could jeopardize security clearances
Furloughed workers cite compounding problems, such as health insurance lapse

Brian Uholik, right, a furloughed Justice Department employee, holds his infant daughter Wynnie while discussing with his wife Jamie how the government shutdown has impacted their family during a roundtable discussion with government employees and Sens. Mark Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Brian Uholik is a proud father of a new baby daughter, but he’s also a furloughed trial attorney at the Department of Justice.

Uholik was among the federal employees from Northern Virginia who met Friday morning with Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats who have been pushing for a quick end to the partial government shutdown.

Youth, anger, impeachment and the 1970s
Strengths of freshman Democrats lie more in dramatizing ignored issues than fleshing out policy details

If Bernie Sanders could get through the entire 2016 primary season without coherently explaining how he would pay for “Medicare for all,” why is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expected to be an ace number cruncher, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — In the 1970s, as a 25-year-old history graduate student at the University of Michigan, I ran for Congress without family money or even owning a car. In my passion (the Vietnam War was raging) and in my belief that college students deserved representation in Washington, I had much in common with the history-making Democratic Class of 2018.

Unlike, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I lost the Democratic primary to the floor leader of the Michigan state House, although I did carry anti-war Ann Arbor by a 5-to-1 margin. (Many more details on request). But I came close enough to nurture a few fantasies about my arrival in Washington as the nation’s youngest congressman.

Fintech sector hurt by shutdown
Federal government’s influence more expansive than expected

The government shutdown is starting to create serious problems for financial technology firms and has put some policy development on hold. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — The consequences of the partial government shutdown for the poor, the environment, federal employees and those relying on government services or benefits have become painfully evident, and are getting worse. The shutdown is also starting to create serious problems for financial technology firms — slowing dealmaking, impairing supervision and casting a pall over the presumed pre-eminence of the U.S. as a fintech superpower.

It’s coming as quite a surprise for many Silicon Valley investors and Wall Street firms that have long viewed the federal government as a drag on innovation rather than a facilitator of it.

Michael Cohen Will Testify Before House Oversight Panel in February
Trump’s former personal lawyer has implicated president in campaign finance crimes

Michael Cohen will testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, will testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings announced in a press release Thursday.

For months, Cohen and House Democrats have expressed a shared interest in the former Trump fixer appearing before Congress to go public about his work for the president during his 2016 campaign and before Trump launched his political career.

Cybersecurity may suffer as shutdown persists
Congress remains in the dark about how the spending stalemate has affected DHS’ anti-hacking mission

Members of the House Homeland Security panel, led by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., are concerned that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the DHS is running with significantly fewer staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown may be making some key federal departments and agencies running with skeletal staffs more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches, experts said.

Meanwhile, the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security, said it remains in the dark about how the shutdown has affected the department’s mission to safeguard critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

USPS IG clears conservative group of wrongdoing in Spanberger file release
At least 6 other former employees had their files improperly released after FOIA requests, IG found

The U.S. Postal Service improperly released a highly sensitive personnel file of Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., to a conservative opposition research group last summer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Postal Service inspector general officially cleared a prominent conservative research group of any wrongdoing for getting its hands on Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s complete and unredacted official personnel file last summer.

America Rising, a conservative opposition research group contracted by dozens of conservative PACs and campaign committees each election cycle to dig up dirt on Democratic candidates, went through the proper channels, submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for Spanberger’s file to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the IG concluded in its report released in late December.

Zoe Lofgren takes up House Administration gavel
So-called mayor of Capitol Hill oversees multiple aspects of Congress, voting and security

Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California will be the new “mayor of Capitol Hill,” as the chair of the House Administration Committee is sometimes called. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California will be the new “mayor of Capitol Hill,” as the chair of the House Administration Committee is sometimes called.

Unlike many other committees, the top spot on House Administration is not determined by seniority. Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially appointed Lofgren to lead the panel Friday. The nomination must be approved by the full Democratic caucus, which is expected to act next week.