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Tag: Senate

$1.75 Billion in Funding for New FBI Headquarters Is Added to Coronavirus Relief Bill

FBI headquarters, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Funding for the long-delayed construction of a new FBI headquarters is tucked inside a coronavirus relief bill that Senate Republicans agreed to Monday.

The White House insisted the bill include $1.75 billion in funding for a new headquarters in downtown Washington D.C., drawing criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, The Washington Post reports.

Trump has long called for the headquarters, which is a stone’s throw from his Washington D.C. hotel, to be built downtown, rather than in the suburbs.

Asked why the headquarters funding was added to the coronavirus relief bill, Sen. Richard C. Shelby said, “Good question.”

“This is an administration proposal to move on with the FBI,” Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “They need a new FBI building down the street; it’s not safe to work in, you know, and so forth.”

Democrats were quick to criticize the headquarters funding.

“They managed to have enough money for $2 billion for the FBI headquarters that benefits Trump hotel and they say they have no money for food assistance,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “What the heck is going on?”

The White House defended the funding.

“As President Trump has said, the FBI desperately needs a new building and this measure provides critical funding for this project that would keep the building responsibly near the Department of Justice,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

Sen. Graham to Invite Mueller to Testify After Ex-Special Counsel Wrote Op-Ed about Roger Stone

Robert S. Mueller III testifies before Congress last summer.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Sen. Lindsey Graham plans to invite former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before the Judiciary Committee after Mueller penned a rare op-ed in response to President Trump’s decision to commute Roger Stone’s prison sentence.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have long called for Mueller to testify, but Graham has denied the request – until now.

“Apparently Mr. Mueller is willing – and also capable – of defending the Mueller investigation through an oped in the Washington Post,” Graham tweeted. “Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have previously requested Mr. Mueller appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about his investigation. That request will be granted.”

A spokesman for Graham told NBC News that a “formal invivtation to Mr. Mueller is in the works.”

In The Washington Post op-ed, Mueller wrote that he was “compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office.”

“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance,” he said. “Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”

Trump drew criticism from Democrats and some Republicans after commuting Stone’s prison sentence on Friday.

Rosenstein Defends Appointment of Mueller But Said FBI Misled Him on Carter Page Surveillance

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday defended his decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia’s election meddling, but blamed top-level FBI officials for “significant errors.”

“I still believe it was the right decision under the circumstances,” Mr. Rosenstein told the Senate Judiciary Committee about appointing Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel, The New York Times reports. “I recognize that people can criticize me for them. That’s the consequence of being in these jobs — you make decisions and people criticize you for them — but I believed it was the right decision at the time.”

Rosenstein, however, said he signed applications to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on erroneous information and omissions.

The Republican-led committee is ramping up its investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.

Ex-Deputy AG Rosenstein to Testify Before Senate Committee about FBI’s Probe of Trump’s Campaign

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is set to testify next week at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the FBI’s investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“Mr. Rosenstein will testify about the new revelations contained in the Horowitz report concerning the FISA warrant applications and other matters,” Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a statement, KTLA5 reports. “This will be the first in a series of oversight hearings regarding all things Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller investigation.”

Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russia’s meddling in the campaign in 2017.

Rosenstein is expected to be the only witness during the hearing on Wednesday.

Sen. Burr Stepping Down as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Amid Federal Probe of Stock Sell-Off

Sen. Richard Burr

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Sen. Richard Burr is stepping down as the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman after FBI agents seized his cell phone as part of a federal investigation of his mass sell-off of stocks.

Justice Department and SEC investigators are investigating whether Bur violated a law that bars members of Congress from trading on insider information obtained from their privileged position.

“This is a distraction to the hard work of the committee and the members, and I think the security of the country’s too important to have a distraction,” Burr told reporters at the Capitol in an interview recorded by C-SPAN.

It’s not yet clear who would replace Burr, a Republican from North Carolina.

Burr sold a significant chunk of his stock portfolio on Feb. 13, when his committee was receiving daily updates on the coronavirus.

A week later, the stock market declined sharply.

Chad Wolf Moves Closer to Becoming Trump’s Fifth Homeland Security Secretary

Chad Wolf

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Chad Wolf is closer to becoming President Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary.

The Senate voted primarily along party lines to move forward on Wolf’s nomination as Homeland Security policy undersecretary.

Today, the Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation.

Once he is confirmed, Trump can appoint Wolf as acting Homeland Security secretary. For Wolf to become the leader of the agency, he must hold a Senate-confirmed role under federal law.

Wolf will replace Kevin McAleenan, who resigned in October.

Still, Republicans and Democrats expressed concern about the lack of an acting director for the nation’s third largest department. Homeland Security hasn’t had a permanent secretary since Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April.

Wolf was Nielsen’s chief of staff.

Time to Finally Confirm Trump’s Pick to Lead ATF, Say Top Law Enforcement Organizations

Chuck Canterbury

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s pick to lead the ATF has been derailed by Republicans who are uneasy about position on gun control.

Five months ago, Trump nominated of Chuck Canterbury, leader of the national Fraternal Order of Police, to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent leader since 2015. Without someone at the top of the ATF, many officials are worried the agency will lack stability and operational effectiveness.

It’s time for the Senate to confirm Canterbury as head of the ATF, according to a Hill column written by leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association and the National Sheriffs Association.

“This lack of permanent leadership compromises the effectiveness of the ATF’s law enforcement mission,” they wrote. “We need Chuck Canterbury as director of the ATF and we strongly believe he should be expeditiously confirmed.”

The authors say there’s no doubt that Canterbury respects Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

“Canterbury is a proud supporter of the Second Amendment; everyone knows this,” they wrote. “We also know that Chuck is a cop’s cop with a reverence for the rule of law. If confirmed, he will enforce the laws written by Congress because that will be his job. If you know Chuck Canterbury, then you know he gets the job done. We have every confidence in him, and we urge the Senate in the strongest possible terms to confirm this excellent and highly qualified nominee.”

Read the entire column here.

Jeffrey Rosen Confirmed As DOJ’s Second-in-Command Despite No Experience As Prosecutor

Jeffrey Rosen at the Senate confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Rosen, who has no experience as a prosecutor, is now the second-in-command at the Justice Department.

The Senate voted along party lines Thursday to confirm confirm Rosen to replace former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the embattled official who initiated Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

Rosen has never served in the Justice Department. He previously served as general counsel at the Department of Transportation and at the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

Democrats said they opposed Rosen because he lacks DOJ experience and refused during congressional testimony to pledge to release the full, unredacted Mueller report.

“We need a Deputy Attorney General who knows the Justice Department,,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement after Rosen’s confirmation. “Mr. Rosen simply does not have the qualifications for this critical assignment.”

Republicans praised Rosen for his “rock-solid reputation,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put it.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Rosen has “the experience, skills and the temperament we want in a deputy attorney general.”

Rosen was nominated by President Trump in February.