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Amid ‘Whistleblowergate,’ Trump again suggests his office has unlimited powers
‘I have the right to do whatever I want as president,’ president said in July

President Donald Trump makes remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands nearby on August 5. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump on Friday insisted it “doesn’t matter” if he asks foreign leaders to target his domestic political foes, again describing the powers of his office as unlimited.

On yet another remarkable Friday that capped yet another remarkable week in his roller-coaster-like term, the president once again opted against distancing himself from allegations that would have amounted to a major scandal for anyone who held the unofficial title of “leader of the free world.”

Photos of the Week: A statehood hearing, climate activists and a new way to wear glasses
The week of September 20 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser rides a double-decker bus on Monday with American flags featuring 51 stars down Pennsylvania Avenue along with 51 military veterans ahead of this week’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on making D.C. the 51st state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trump: ‘It doesn’t matter what I discussed’ on call that drew whistleblower’s complaint
President announces sanctions at the ‘highest level’ against Iran after strike against Saudi oil facility

President Donald Trump is mired in another crisis, this time over an allegation he made a troubling “promise” to another world leader. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday did not deny discussing former Vice President Joe Biden with his Ukranian counterpart during a telephone conversation that reportedly prompted an intelligence community whistleblower to file a formal complaint.

“It doesn’t matter what I discussed,” Trump told reporters Friday, according to a pool report. The ever defiant president then ran toward the controversy, saying, “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

Writing a speech for the boss? Two White House pros show you how to nail it
The best speechwriters are advocates for the audiences they’re trying to reach, Eric Schnure says

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “comfort level with who she is” comes across in her speeches, former Al Gore speechwriter Eric Schnure tells Murphy. President Donald Trump is another effective communicator, Schnure says, with his ability to speak “visibly.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photos)

OPINION — Most job interviews for Capitol Hill speechwriters go something like this:  “The senator needs remarks for tomorrow. You need to write the remarks.” No interview. No preparation. Just a last-minute assignment and an equally fast turnaround for a legislative assistant, a legislative correspondent or whichever press office staffer picked up the phone first.

Over at the White House, speechwriting jobs usually come with more requirements than physical proximity, but not always. Eric Schnure scored his first speechwriting job for Vice President Al Gore when he was working in the White House mail room and helping Gore’s understaffed speechwriter, Bob Lehrman, before and after sorting letters.

Federal agency ordered to investigate Homeland Security nominee
What happens next may rest with McConnell

What happens to the nomination of William N. Bryan to a senior Department of Homeland Security post may now rest with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell is shown here with Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Todd Young, R-Ind., and John Thune, R-S.D. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Department of Energy has been told to investigate allegations of corruption by William N. Bryan, the White House’s nominee for a senior post at the Department of Homeland Security, CQ Roll Call has learned.

Bryan joins a long line of Trump administration nominees who’ve faced controversy. Just this week, the White House withdrew the nomination of Jeffrey Byard to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Bashful base: Pollsters say Trump closer to Dems than early 2020 surveys suggest
Political pros see his true support higher with some of president's backers ‘afraid’ to admit it

A family awaits President Donald Trump’s arrival for a campaign rally in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Professional pollsters say President Donald Trump and senior White House officials are rightly confident heading into his reelection bid because early 2020 surveys are likely flawed.

“We are going to keep on fighting, and we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning,” Trump told supporters this week during a campaign rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. “We’re going to win like never before. … I’ll tell you what: We're going to win the state of New Mexico.”

Democrats say they want to prioritize legislation over impeachment. Here’s their chance
Thursday release of prescription drug pricing bill provides opportunity for messaging shift

House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine M. Clark and Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries say House Democrats are most successful in communicating their policy messages directly to constituents in their districts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders’ plan to release a top-priority prescription drug pricing bill on Thursday presents the caucus with an opportunity to refocus its messaging on legislating over investigating — one that many Democrats say is desperately needed.

Moderate Democrats in particular are concerned that the caucus’s policy work isn’t breaking through the impeachment cloud that has overshadowed the 116th Congress.

‘Beckmesser’ earns Rep. Chris Pappas the spelling bee title
But competition at National Press Club also turned on spelling cocktails

New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, left, holds the belt he won as the 2019 National Press Club Spelling Bee champion after defeating the press team’s champ, Eric Geller of Politico. (Herb Jackson/CQ Roll Call)

If you want to win the National Press Club’s Press vs. Politicians Spelling Bee, here’s a tip: Drinking might help.

Not necessarily drinking during the competition, although that certainly happens in the audience (and got official pronouncer Jacques Bailly  more laughs for the “dad jokes” in the use-the-word-in-a-sentence part of the questioning). There’s also a bar at the VIP reception for contestants and sponsors before the competition, and it’s up to them whether to partake before going on stage.

As background checks talks stall, Trump casts Beto O’Rourke as scapegoat
POTUS: Candidate’s debate remark ‘Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away’

Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a town hall event in Alexandria, Va., in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Washington fails to enact legislation to strengthen federal firearms background checks or otherwise deal with mass shootings, President Donald Trump suggests the blame will fall on a former House Democrat who wants his job.

With talks toward a measure that could pass a Democratic-controlled House and a GOP-run Senate showing no tangible signs of progress, Trump has vacillated from supporting beefed-up background checks to endorsing a amorphous plan focused on mental health issues he says is the root cause of mass gun massacres.

Democratic debate moderators haven’t done American voters any favors
Three debates in, candidates and media seem averse to discussing economy, jobs and growth

Moderators at the next Democratic debate should go deeper on extreme policies such as Elizabeth Warren’s assault on capitalism and Bernie Sanders’ socialist health care proposal, Winston writes. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

OPINION — The first three Democratic presidential debates — five, if you count the double features in June and July — are, thankfully, in the political rearview mirror. It turns out that despite the hours and hours spent debating, and then the hours and hours talking about the debates, and then the inevitable polls trying to pick winners and losers, the political landscape hasn’t changed much. 

A Sept. 13-15 Morning Consult poll of Democratic primary voters done after the latest debate found Joe Biden still in the lead at 32 percent. Bernie Sanders was in second place at 20 percent with Elizabeth Warren closing in at 18 percent. Everybody else huddled at the bottom with 6 percent or less. The more things change, it seems, the more they stay the same.