Griffin Connolly

After Helsinki, Senate GOP Quietly Takes Aim at Russia
Flake, Gardner, Rubio all propose Senate takes steps to deter Russian aggression

At least two Republican senators are urging their colleagues to do what President Donald Trump was unwilling to do at his joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday: hold Russia accountable for interfering in the 2016 election and its hyper-aggressive foreign policy.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is working on a measure that would “reaffirm support for the intelligence community,” he said on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.

Roskam Tells Trump to Speak to Putin More Like Reagan Would
GOP congressman says Trump was ‘very defensive’ in conversation about Helsinki news conference

Rep. Peter Roskam said President Donald Trump delivered a “very defensive” response on Tuesday when he confronted the president about siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Roskam was at the White House for a meeting with Trump in which the president walked back his comments from Monday that he saw “no reason why it would be Russia” that interfered in the 2016 election, affirmed that he trusted his intelligence community’s assessment that it was Russia, and then immediately sought to undercut that assessment by saying there “could be other people also — a lot of people out there.”

Freedom Caucus Finds Silver Lining From Helsinki: At Least It Happened
“We support the fact that the president was there on the stage,” Rep. Warren Davidson says

Lawmakers and media personalities from both parties roundly criticized President Donald Trump’s performance at a joint press conference Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But some House conservatives, who remained mostly silent immediately after that meeting, have managed to extract at least one silver lining from the Helsinki summit: At least there was one.

“The good news is there was a summit,” Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio said Tuesday at a panel on Capitol Hill with other members of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus.

As Rohrabacher Defends Trump and Russia, Re-Election Bid Looks Murky
California Republican narrowly trails Democratic challenger in new poll

For California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the 2018 election might be his toughest bid yet.

The longtime Republican congressman narrowly trailed Democratic challenger Harley Rouda in a Monmouth University poll of registered voters in California’s 48th District released Tuesday.

Man Who Threatened Rep. Maxine Waters Gets 6 Months House Arrest
Anthony Scott Lloyd faced 10 years in federal prison

A California man who left a voicemail for Rep. Maxine Waters threatening to kill her was sentenced to six months of house arrest.

Anthony Scott Lloyd, 45, pleaded guilty in April to a felony charge of threatening a U.S. government official. He faced up to 10 years in prison, but a federal court judge on Monday handed him down three years of probation and 100 hours of community service in addition to his home detention.

Lawmakers Condemn Trump Over News Conference With Putin
Republican calls it ‘shameful’ while Democrat says trip was ‘one giant middle finger... to his own country’

As President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin left their joint press conference in Monday in Helsinki, Finland, to continue with their slate of meetings, lawmakers back home in Washington sent a resounding rebuke across the Atlantic to the president.

Perhaps loudest in his criticism of Trump was one of the most prominent members of his own party: Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Wilson Said He Was Duped Into Suggesting He Supports Arming Toddlers
Sacha Baron Cohen disguised himself as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert to get interviews with GOP lawmakers

Rep. Joe Wilson got the Sacha Baron Cohen treatment Sunday night in a segment on the British comedian’s new show where he tries to convince lawmakers to back a made-up lobbying effort to arm American toddlers.

During a sit-down interview with Baron Cohen, who is well-known for conducting interviews with unwitting suspects while he role-plays as foreign characters with controversial views on race, politics, and sexuality, the South Carolina Republican appeared to suggest he supported the lobbying effort to help “Kinderguardians” by arming preschoolers with guns.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio the Latest Politician to Admit Falling for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Act
British entertainer interviewed Arizona Senate candidate as a ‘Finnish comedian’

Joe Arpaio, the former Pheonix-area sheriff who is running for Arizona’s open Senate seat this fall, is the latest in a line of conservative American political figures to admit being duped by British entertainer Sacha Baron Cohen and agreeing to one of his famous interviews.

Cohen is well-known for conducting interviews with unwitting suspects while he role-plays as foreign characters with controversial views on race, politics, and sexuality.

Senate Democrats Target Michael Cohen for ‘Selling Access’ to Trump
Former personal attorney to POTUS is key subject in Mueller investigation

Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, is the target of a new report from Democratic senators who on Friday accused him of “selling access” to the White House through a shell company he formed during the 2016 election campaign.

The senators’ report is based on emails they obtained from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, which signed a $1.2 million contract with Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, for “consulting and advisory services.”

Goodlatte’s Threat to Hold Strzok in Contempt Most Likely an Empty One
U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia would decide whether to prosecute the charge

Just minutes into FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok’s first public testimony Thursday about his involvement in two 2016 FBI investigations involving presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte threatened Strzok with a contempt of Congress citation.

But if historical precedent is any indication, Goodlatte’s threat to the embattled witness would lead down a long and winding legal road — that would most likely dead-end at the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia’s desk.

Sparks Fly at Joint Hearing to Question FBI Agent Peter Strzok
Trey Gowdy ‘doesn’t give a damn’

For the first time in a public forum, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok delivered an impassioned defense against claims from House Republicans that he held biases against candidate Donald Trump that affected his official agency decisions as he helped lead an investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok testified before a joint panel of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.

What to Expect in Peter Strzok’s House GOP Grilling
FBI agent will tell lawmakers his personal opinions never affected his official actions

FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok will tell lawmakers today that despite a trove of text messages from 2016 that seem to indicate he had an intense personal distaste for President Donald Trump, he has never allowed personal opinions to affect any of his official work at the agency.

“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok will testify before a joint panel of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees, The Associated Press reported.

Lankford: Reuniting Immigrant Families Is Complicated
Human traffickers and parents who aren’t ready to reunite with their children has made process more difficult

As a California court deadline came and went Tuesday for the Trump administration to reunite 102 undocumented immigrant children under the age of 5 with their parents, Sen. James Lankford came to the administration’s defense after it did not fully meet the court’s demands.

Dozens of the children are still at temporary housing facilities as the Justice and Health and Human Services Departments vet those who have claimed to be the children’s parents through DNA tests, criminal background checks, and other means.

Jones’ Bill Would Declassify, Release Civil Rights Cold Cases
Alabama Democratic senator says bill would help public circumvent problems with Freedom of Information Act

Sen. Doug Jones introduced a new bill Tuesday to create a panel to systematically review, declassify, and release government documents and information related to unsolved criminal civil rights cases from decades ago.

Executive branch officials process Freedom of Information Act requests to see documents related to such cases too slowly, Jones’ office argued in a news release Tuesday, and the scope of what they hand over when they finally do can often be too narrow.

Senate Confirms Trump DOJ Nominee Who Represented Russian Bank in 2017
Republicans stick together as Dem Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia breaks ranks to confirm Benczkowski by 51-48 vote

As the frenzy surrounding President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh kicks into high gear this week, the Senate is voted Wednesday to confirm a divisive new director for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.

In late winter 2017, Brian Benczkowski, who now awaits Trump's signature to become the newest assistant attorney general at the DOJ, briefly represented Alfa Bank, a Russian bank with close ties to Russian government officials that media outlets previously reported was a subject of the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

California Prosecutor Suggested Someone Might Shoot Waters
Deputy DA on leave after allegedly calling Waters the c-word, among other things

A federal prosecutor in Southern California was placed on administrative leave for social media posts in which he slurred Rep. Maxine Waters and suggested someone might shoot her.

San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem also insinuated former first lady Michelle Obama had male genitals and said a man shot and killed by police “got exactly what he deserved.”

As Trump Officials Are Heckled at Restaurants, Lieu Boasts About Free Dessert
Democratic rep highlights contrast over migrant family separation policy

Apparently no one’s chanting “Shame!” at Rep. Ted Lieu when he dines at Mexican restaurants, to the point he feels compelled to leave without finishing his dinner. Bartenders aren’t following him out onto the street from sushi bars to flash him middle fingers and curse at him.

Nope.

Lawmakers Still Being Kept out of Facilities With Immigrant Children
Democrats and Republicans wonder if feds are hiding something

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers keep getting denied access to tour facilities holding undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents, causing some to speculate whether the federal government is shielding the living conditions there from public scrutiny.

Most recently, Democratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier was turned away Sunday from visiting a center in his district in Pleasant Hill, California, after previously receiving permission to tour the facility from an official in the Health and Human Services Department.

Hurd, Democratic Challenger on Pace to Shatter Fundraising Record
GOP rep, opponent Gina Ortiz Jones projected to run one of the most expensive races in Texas history

Four months away from Election Day, the race for Texas’ 23rd District projects to be the most expensive congressional race in the state’s history.

Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones more than doubled her cash on hand in the second fundraising quarter after reeling in $1.2 million in April, May and June, her campaign announced in a news release Monday.

Independent Candidate Who Wants to Wrestle Taylor Fails to Make Ballot
Virginia elections board invalidated 289 signatures on Aldo DiBelardino’s petition

The Virginia man who challenged Rep. Scott Taylor to a wrestling match as part of his campaign to replace him failed to qualify for the November ballot after the state elections board said 289 of the 1,085 signatures he collected were not valid.

That left Aldo DiBelardino, the businessman who filed to run for Virginia’s 2nd District seat as an independent, with just 796 signatures — short of the 1,000-signature threshold to run for federal office in Virginia.