In the news last week, Trump-Russia investigations expand, administration proposes new immigrant plan, and Senate confirms new FBI Director.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller has expanded his team investigating Russian ties to the Trump campaign, and has impaneled a grand jury.
- Just before leaving for a summer recess, two bipartisan pairs of senators unveiled legislation to prevent President Trump from firing Mueller without convincing a panel of federal judges that good cause exists.
- President Trump signed legislation imposing sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election but blamed Congress for bringing “[o]ur relationship with Russia” to “an all-time & very dangerous low.” At a West Virginia rally Thursday night, Trump called allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia a “total fabrication.”
FBI (and other executive appointments)
- The Senate confirmed Christopher Wray as FBI director, a post that has been vacant since President Trump fired James Comey. (Both Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen supported Wray’s confirmation.)
- The Senate also confirmed a slew of other executive nominations.
- Senators voted to bar Trump from making any recess appointments during the summer recess.
- President Trump announced support for cutting in half the number of lawful immigrants to the United States within a decade, restricting the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring relatives into the country. The Associated Press published this fact check on the proposal.
- Baltimore was among four cities that received a warning from the Justice Department on Thursday: help federal authorities crack down on illegal immigration if you want federal assistance to curb violent crime. Baltimore’s congressional delegation issued a scathing response, calling the threat “unconscionable.” More here and here.
- Senator Van Hollen tried unsuccessfully to stop the planned deportation of a Gaithersburg teen who fled violence in El Salvador in 2009 and earned a scholarship to play soccer at a college in North Carolina. Lizandro Claros Saravia, 19, and his brother, Diego, 22, have no criminal records but were detained last week in Baltimore after a regular check-in with authorities. They were deported Wednesday in what their attorney called the fastest deportation process he had ever seen.
- Rep. Sarbanes (MD-3) on Trump’s immigration plan: “Sarbanes thought back to his own family tree, when his grandparents came to America. ‘And they might not have come with the best English skills to start, but they learned English overtime and they contributed to the society and they made a positive difference for the country.’”
Pediatric cancer treatment
The Senate voted 94-1 to approve a measure backed by Senator Van Hollen to require drug companies to test potential adult therapies for childhood cancers in more cases. (Senator Bernie Sanders cast the lone “no” vote.) President Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which also cleared the House.
2018 Senate races
Senator Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recognized that the midterm map is stacked against Senate Democrats, but said that Democrats can beat the odds.
President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is revealing a brief advisory role with a firm related to a controversial data analysis company that aided the Trump campaign. Rep. Cummings (MD-7) asked firm representative for documents detailing Flynn’s foreign business contacts and travel; more here and here.
Rep. Cummings (MD-7) Op-Ed: Lives in the Balance Part V: Achieving Affordable Healthcare as our Civil Right
The EPA inspector general exonerated the agency’s Region 5 office from accusations that its managers mishandled sexual harassment allegations, after House lawmakers, including Rep. Cummings (MD-7), requested an internal investigation
In response to inquiry from members of Congress, including Rep. Cummings (MD-7), the Federal Communications Commission won’t reveal exactly how it plans to prevent future attacks on the public comment system.
Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-3) announced Monday that the Baltimore County fire department will get $1,519,368 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This federal grant is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program aimed to improve firefighting capabilities and preparedness across the country.