Jeff Sessions

Trump feared ‘one of these independent counsels.’ He got something else
Amid Democrats’ criticism, is Barr trying to protect Trump or the office he occupies?

President Donald Trump was worried that “one of these independent counsels,” as Kenneth Starr was during the Clinton administration, would bring the “end of my presidency,” special counsel Robert S. Mueller III concluded in his report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, ended a phone call and returned to the Oval Office. It wasn’t long before President Donald Trump was in an angry rage.

Sessions, since unceremoniously fired, had just taken a phone call from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who informed him he had appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as a special counsel to look into Russia’s 2016 election meddling, including whether there was coordination with Trump’s campaign.

Trump painted as media-obsessed in Mueller’s report
At times, focus on press was a blessing for Trump; at other times, it was a burden

President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters at the Capitol in March, alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center, and Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Robert Mueller's report reveals a media-obsessed chief executive. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation of the Trump White House reveals a presidency calibrated to drive and respond to media coverage of itself. Though unconventional, Donald Trump’s unique approach helped save his presidency.

At several critical points of his turbulent term, Mueller found that Trump — who once cold-called New York reporters claiming to be a public relations agent named “John Barron” to promote his real estate ventures — was mostly focused on responding to negative press reports or trying to generate positive ones. When the president took several questionable actions, the former FBI director concluded, it was because he was focused on a “press strategy” — and misleading or even lying to reporters is not a crime.

Mueller report shows Trump aides routinely ignored his orders on crucial matters
Special counsel highlights chaotic West Wing where staff tried to save president from himself

President Donald Trump's top aides routinely ignored his orders on crucial legal matters during his first year in office, according to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Presidential orders given but often ignored. Ample cursing. Aides working behind the scenes to protect Donald Trump from his own anger and impulsiveness. And an effort to prevent the president from firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III despite his determination to do so.

Mueller’s long-anticipated report reveals a chaotic West Wing driven by paranoia and frequent outbursts from a green president who wanted to remove the special counsel and demanded that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, be more like predecessors Robert F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr., whom he felt “protected” the respective presidents they served, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

Mueller cites ‘fairness’ in reasons not to decide if Trump obstructed justice
Such an evaluation ‘could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes,’ Mueller wrote

Media films a few pages of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election which was printed out by staff in the House Judiciary Committee's hearing room on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III lists in his report which of President Donald Trump’s actions his team scrutinized to determine whether the president tried to obstruct justice — enough that they could not rule out that Trump committed a crime.

But Mueller’s team decided they should refrain from deciding whether Trump should be prosecuted because of several factors — including “fairness,” the unique role of the president in government and previous Justice Department opinions that a sitting president could not be indicted.

Democrats and Republicans embrace MLK’s once-controversial diatribe against ‘moderation’
Doug Jones leads bipartisan group in reading ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’

Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones  arrives in the Capitol for a vote on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of senators led by Alabama Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday took to the Senate floor to read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” commemorating the anniversary of the slain civil rights legend’s famous jeremiad, and showing just how far public opinion has shifted on the once-controversial civil rights icon.

King’s letter, written in April 1963 from his jail cell, is not a tirade against the guardians of segregation.

Democrats probe Trump decision to not defend Obamacare

Attorney General William Barr urged the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee to let the Obamacare case make its way through the courts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats opened a probe Tuesday into the Trump administration’s decision not to defend the 2010 health care law in a high-profile legal challenge, as Attorney General William Barr urged lawmakers to allow the case to move through the courts.

The chairmen of five House panels sent letters to the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department seeking documents and communications about how the decision was made earlier this year to only partially defend the health care law in a legal challenge brought by Texas’ attorney general and other conservative state attorneys general.

Nielsen out as Homeland Security chief
Trump faulted her for not clamping down on illegal border crossings

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is reportedly leaving her post. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:59 p.m. | President Donald Trump announced Sunday that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is leaving his administration.

The move by Trump comes after months of frustration with what he saw as her inability to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Marijuana bill could help Cory Gardner’s re-election chances. Will Senate GOP leaders get behind it?
Bipartisan measure would end federal interference in states that have legalized cannabis

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, center, says the STATES Act would pass if it got to the House and Senate floors, though the latter may be harder to accomplish. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday to clear away some of the weedier legal issues between federal marijuana law and states that have legalized cannabis.

The bill, co-sponsored in the Senate by Colorado Republican Cory Gardner and Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren and in the House by Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer and Ohio Repbublican David Joyce, would amend the federal drug law so its marijuana provisions no longer apply to individuals acting in compliance with state or tribal laws.

‘Ridiculous bulls--t’ and other colorful moments from Trump’s Michigan rally
Fact check: President again twists truth and bends reality as supporters roar in key state

President Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on Thursday evening in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump mostly sang the hits with familiar themes Thursday night during his second re-election rally, but he sprinkled in plenty of eyebrow-raising lines and claims.

[Ph.D. student faces deportation to Liberia, where she has never lived]

Democrats accuse Barr of bias in handling Mueller report, but what about Rosenstein?
Most are holding fire on Rosenstein but want to know how he and Barr decided against obstruction within 48 hours

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has so far largely escaped Democratic criticism his boss Attorney General William P. Barr has faced for their conclusion that the special counsel investigation did not yield enough evidence to prosecute President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats have been quick to suggest bias in Attorney General William P. Barr’s assessment that the special counsel investigation lacked enough evidence to prosecute President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. But most of them are holding their fire when it comes to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who joined Barr in that conclusion.

“We cannot make a judgement on the basis of an interpretation by a man who was hired for his job because he believes the president is above the law, and he wrote a 19-page memo to demonstrate that,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus during its weekly meeting Tuesday, according to an aide present.