Senate

Senate confirms William Barr as attorney general

The Senate confirmed William P. Barr as the new attorney general Thursday, giving President Trump a new top cop and special counsel Robert Mueller a new overseer. Analysts said they expect Mr. Barr to be a steadying presence — and doubted there will be much of a shift in course from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Both Sessions and Barr are very tough on crime, law enforcement-minded people on issues like drug offenses and immigration, so there is not much light or space between them,” said Jimmy Gurule, a University of Notre Dame law professor who was an assistant attorney general under Mr. Barr during his first term as attorney general, for President George H.W. Bush. Mr. Barr was approved on a 54-45 vote, with only a few Democrats voting in favor, and just one Republican opposed. He was sworn in at the White House on Thursday afternoon, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administering the oath of office. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Mr. Barr’s confirmation “a major victory for justice and the rule of law in America.” During his previous stint as attorney general Mr. Barr took a strict stance on illegal immigration, and pushed for mandatory minimum sentences, just as Mr. Sessions did. That could prove to be an early test for Mr. Barr, after Mr. Trump late last year signed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that trimmed back those sentencing rules. Both Mr. Barr and Mr. Sessions had opposed it, though when asked about the legislation during his confirmation hearing, Mr. Barr promised to “faithfully enforce that law.”

Congrats to AG Barr!

Senate Rebukes Harris and Hirono on Knights of Columbus

On Wednesday the Senate approved a resolution that rebuked two Democratic senators for questioning judicial nominees about their membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. The resolution, introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), affirmed “the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States.” The Senate proceeded to affirm the resolution without objection. Last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned a judicial nominee about his membership in the Knights of Columbus and whether it would affect his ability to fairly judge cases. Brian Buescher was nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Hirono sent written questions claiming “the Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.” She also asked if Buescher would quit the group if confirmed “to avoid any appearance of bias.” Harris described the Knights as “an all-male society” in her questions, and also asked if Buescher knew the Knights “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality” when he became a member. Sasse’s resolution also referenced the anti-Catholic bigotry Democratic president John F. Kennedy faced during his presidency, and cited the Knights of Columbus’s “proud tradition of standing against the forces of prejudice and oppression such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany.” The resolution asked the Senate to express its sense “that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates Clause 3 of Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States which establishes that senators ‘shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution[; but] no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.'” Sasse urged his fellow senators to rebuke the anti-Catholic attacks against Buescher. “If a senator has a problem with this resolution, you’re probably in the wrong line of work because this is what America is. This is a super basic point, no religious test. If someone has a problem with this resolution, what other parts of the Constitution are you against: freedom of the press, women’s right to vote, freedom of speech? This isn’t hard. No religious test for serving on the federal bench. We should, in this body, rebuke these anti-Catholic attacks,” Sasse said. After the resolution was affirmed, the Nebraska senator said he would report back to Buescher “that he can ignore those questions that he received about whether or not he would resign his membership in the Knights of Columbus.”

Dem. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) are nauseating, self-righteous, religious bigots.  Kudos to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb) for calling them out like this publicly on the floor of the Senate and getting this resolution passed.  Excellent!!   🙂

Senate passes bill to pay federal employees — after shutdown ends

Senators passed a bill Thursday to ensure all federal employees, whether they are still working or were furloughed, will be paid in full when the partial government shutdown ends. The shutdown will cross the three-week mark on Friday, which is also the same day that they will miss their first paychecks. Senators said they had to find something to do to send a signal of comfort. “When we reopen, they will be paid,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat. Under federal law essential employees who worked during the shutdown would be paid once government reopens, but those who were furloughed and did not work are not guaranteed pay. Every previous shutdown has been ended with a deal to pay them anyway for work they did not do, and the Senate’s bill Thursday does the same. It cleared without objections, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offering the motion. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat. Democrats have blocked other floor action this week as they insist the Senate focus on the shutdown. The partial shutdown has struck nine federal departments and dozens of agencies, leaving more than 400,000 essential workers on the job without pay, and 350,000 others furloughed.

Lindsey Graham elected Senate Judiciary Committee chairman

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was elected Wednesday to serve as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. The role was previously held by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who announced in November that he would be stepping down. Grassley became the Senate Finance Committee Chairman on Wednesday, according to a news release. “I’m honored to be selected as chairman of the Judiciary Committee,” Graham said in a separate news release. “I will do my best to continue down the path charted by Senator Grassley of having a fair and vibrant committee process.” He said that “the confirmation of conservative judges will be one of my top priorities as chairman.” Graham said he looked forward to collaborating with fellow lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “to make this new Congress successful.” Feinstein is the ranking member on the committee. Earlier Wednesday, Graham revealed that under his leadership, the committee plans to probe allegations of government surveillance abuse amid ongoing concerns over FBI and Justice Department efforts to surveil Trump campaign advisers during the 2016 race.

 

Kavanaugh accuser referred to DOJ for false statements, Grassley’s office announces

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Friday referred a woman who’d accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of raping her “several times” in the backseat of a car to the Justice Department for “materially false statements” and “obstruction.” Kavanaugh, confirmed to the high court on Oct. 6, was infamously accused by multiple women of sexual assault and misconduct before the confirmation. Judy Munro-Leighton, according to Grassley’s office, “alleged that Justice Kavanaugh and a friend had raped her ‘several times each’ in the backseat of a car.” Those accusations were made via a “Jane Doe” letter provided to Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and committee member, Grassley’s office wrote. Upon further investigation, however, inconsistencies in the story emerged. “Given her relatively unique name, Committee investigators were able to use open-source research to locate Ms. Munro-Leighton and determine that she: (1) is a left-wing activist; (2) is decades older than Judge Kavanaugh; and (3) lives in neither the Washington DC area nor California, but in Kentucky,” Grassley’s office wrote. “Under questioning by Committee investigators, Ms. Munro-Leighton admitted, contrary to her prior claims, that she had not been sexually assaulted by … Kavanaugh and was not the author of the original ‘Jane Doe’ letter,” Grassley’s office wrote in a Friday referral to the DOJ. “When directly asked by Committee investigators if she was, as she had claimed, the ‘Jane Doe’ from Oceanside California who had sent the letter to Senator Harris, she admitted: ‘No, no, no. I did that as a way to grab attention. I am not Jane Doe . . . but I did read Jane Doe’s letter. I read the transcript of the call to your Committee. . . . I saw it online. It was news.” “In short, during the Committee’s time-sensitive investigation of allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, Ms. Munro-Leighton submitted a fabricated allegation, which diverted Committee resources. When questioned by Committee investigators she admitted it was false, a ‘ploy,’ and a ‘tactic,’” Grassley’s office wrote. “She was opposed to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.” Friday’s referral to the DOJ was not the first time Grassley has asked for an investigation into Kavanaugh’s accusers. Last week, Grassley referred attorney Michael Avenatti and client Julie Swetnick — who’d accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct — for criminal investigation regarding a potential “conspiracy” to provide false statements to Congress and obstruct its investigation.

As more evidence comes to light, we realize that the whole effort to derail (now Justice) Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was a coordinated effort by Democrats in the Senate based on lies and false statements.  Keep this in mind tomorrow as you cast your vote.

Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris accused of breaking fundraising rules over Kavanaugh vote

A watchdog group filed a Senate ethics complaint Monday against Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren for sending out fundraising emails asking for donations to support their votes against Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh — even before they cast their votes against him. While voting and then asking supporters to back that decision with cash is common, the watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), says asking for money ahead of time crosses the line into vote-buying. FACT asked the Senate ethics committee to probe fundraising emails sent by Ms. Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, and Ms. Harris, California Democrat. Ms. Warren’s email said she was demanding a delay on the judge’s confirmation vote and asked for donations for her 2018 election campaign, while Ms. Harris’s emails detailed several of her actions as a member of the Judiciary Committee, including her questioning of the president’s pick for the high court, and asking for contributions. The Senate’s rules prohibit senators “cashing in” on using their official positions for personal gain. FACT said that linking a promise of official action with campaign contributions violates that principle. “This is a clear violation of the Senate Ethics rules which safeguard against the appearance or actuality of elected officials ‘cashing in’ on their official position for political purposes,” said Kendra Arnold, executive director of FACT. Spokespersons for Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Of course not..   They’re huddled with their attorneys.  Senate Dems and the dominantly liberal mainstream media made it clear even before (now) Justice Brett Kavanaugh was even officially nominated,  that they’d do anything and everything possible (even illegal), to fight his nomination.  So, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Kudos to FACT for looking into this potential ethics violation on the part of Sens. Warren and Harris.  This story is developing…

Senate confirms 15 Trump judges after GOP leaders, Democrats strike deal

The Senate confirmed 15 of President Trump’s judicial picks Thursday night after GOP leaders reached a deal with Democrats, clearing about a third of the backlog and closing up shop through Election Day to give senators a chance to campaign. Three of the judges are for the powerful circuit courts of appeals, while the other 12 were for district court positions. Many cleared on near-party line votes, while others were approved by voice votes. They were the first judicial confirmations since last weekend’s vote on Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Some Republicans had hoped senators would stay in town to work on all 49 judicial picks who’d been ready for floor votes. But the 15 was the best deal the GOP could get, representing the amount of judges who could realistically have been confirmed if the Senate had devoted full time to confirmations over the next few weeks. Liberal activists were incensed that Democratic leaders agreed to the votes. “This deal was totally unnecessary and it is a bitter pill to swallow so soon after the Kavanaugh fight that so many progressive activists poured their hearts and souls into,” said Chris Kang, chief counsel for Demand Justice. Conservative activists had been hoping for even more judges, but were enthusiastic about the 15 who did clear. “I’d love for them to stay and grind them into the ground over the next four weeks, but truth be told, if you got 15 — that’s huge,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. The three circuit court nominees confirmed were David Porter for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a 50-45 vote; Ryan Douglas Nelson for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 51-44; and Richard J. Sullivan for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 79-16. Hours before the floor vote the Judiciary Committee approved eight more judicial nominees and readied them for the floor. That means there will be 34 judicial nominees waiting for votes when the Senate returns in November for a lame-duck session.

This was a smart deal..  For more, click on the text above.