Todd Ruger

Judge who said being transgender is a ‘delusion’ nearing confirmation
Democratic senators and LGBT advocates have voiced concerns over one of Trump’s most controversial nominees

Democratic senators and LGBT advocates want to stop the confirmation of one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees this week, but the fight underscores just how powerless they are to do so without help from Republicans.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled floor votes starting Tuesday afternoon for a slate of appointments including Matthew Kacsmaryk to be a judge for the Northern District of Texas. The Kentucky Republican has used a 53-47 majority and streamlined floor rules to quickly confirm 34 judicial nominees this year.

Virginia wins uranium mining ban battle in Supreme Court
The opinion highlighted sharp divisions among justices about how they should evaluate lawmaker motivations

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Virginia to prevent mining of the largest deposit of uranium in the United States, in an opinion that highlighted sharp divisions among the justices about how they should evaluate the motivations of lawmakers.

The case turned on the regulatory line between state and federal authority over the extraction and then further processing of nuclear materials. Six of the justices agreed that a 1954 federal law, known as the Atomic Energy Act, did not preempt a state ban on mining.

Supreme Court decisions could affect makeup of Congress for years
Redistricting, census questions among big-ticket items left on docket

The Supreme Court faces decisions during its last two weeks of the term that could influence congressional districts for the next decade and make the justices an even larger topic in the 2020 presidential campaign.

The court left its most consequential and politically contentious opinions for the end of the term, as it tends to do every year. The justices on Monday will release some of the 24 decisions yet to come before the end of June.

Justice Department sides with Treasury in blocking Trump tax returns
Mnuchin rejected demand by House Ways and Means Democrats

The Justice Department released an opinion Friday that backed up the Treasury Department’s decision not to give Congress copies of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, concluding that the “true aim” was to make the documents public and that “is not a legitimate legislative purpose.”

The Office of Legal Counsel opinion comes after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal last month.

Democrats’ next move unclear after approving subpoena lawsuits
Resolution is House’s broadest step so far in response to Trump’s ‘oppose-all-the-subpoenas’ strategy

Updated 7:13 p.m. | House Democrats voted Tuesday to bolster their oversight power by giving committees the authority to take Trump administration officials to court quickly, but it did little to settle broader questions in a caucus that is trying to balance competing political and legal strategies ahead of the 2020 elections.

The resolution becomes the House’s broadest step in response to President Donald Trump’s “oppose-all-the-subpoenas” strategy, because it allows the Democrats to skip the floor process to enforce committee subpoenas through the federal courts.

Judiciary Committee focuses on Mueller report with pundit panel
Former White House counsel Dean says report needs to be discussed because too few read it

Early in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Monday about the special counsel investigation, the former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon defended why the members should hear testimony from four witnesses not involved in the probe.

The committee hearing is adding something that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III could not in his report, “and that’s public education,” John Dean said in response to a comment from the panel’s ranking Republican, Doug Collins of Georgia.

Nadler reaches agreement with DOJ over Mueller report evidence
The DOJ will share documents Monday, and all House Judiciary Committee members from both parties will be able to view them

The Justice Department agreed Monday to give the House Judiciary Committee key evidence from the special counsel report related to allegations President Donald Trump obstructed the investigation, on the eve of a scheduled floor vote to authorize legal action to enforce two committee subpoenas.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the DOJ will share the documents Monday, and all committee members from both parties will be able to view them. The move means he will not move forward on criminal contempt against Attorney General William Barr, and give the Justice Department time to comply with the agreement.

Unassuming House counsel is a key player in Trump-Congress fights
Douglas Letter helps shape and put in action House Democrats’ litigation strategy

In just 10 days last month, House General Counsel Douglas Letter crisscrossed the country in what he dubbed a “traveling road show” to defend congressional power in federal courtrooms using his affable style.

On a Tuesday in Washington, the veteran litigator in a plain navy suit and red tie defended a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoena for eight years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from an accounting firm.

Judge tosses House lawsuit over border wall spending
Chamber cannot “conscript the Judiciary in a political turf war with the President,” ruling says

A federal judge in Washington on Monday threw out the House’s lawsuit against the Trump administration over funds to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the courts were not the place to settle this dispute over congressional appropriations power.

The Democrat-led House filed the lawsuit challenging parts of the administration plan to spend up to $8.1 billion for construction of southern border barriers, arguing that Congress had turned aside President Donald Trump’s request for $5 billion and instead appropriated $1.375 billion.

Lawmakers on impeachment and F-35s to Turkey
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 155

In his first public statement after his two-year probe, Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, said this week that he had never considered charging President Donald Trump with a crime as he investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. That’s emboldened those in Congress who say representatives must read Mueller’s report, which found evidence Trump may have obstructed the special council’s investigation as an impeachment referral. 

[As Turkish leader courts Russia, U.S. prepares to cut ties]

Nadler says Mueller should testify ‘to a television audience’
Nadler said the special counsel should testify, even if he gives no new information about the Mueller report’s findings

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler plans to have Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III testify publicly before Congress even if he doesn’t say anything beyond what is in his 448-page report on the Russia investigation.

“We will have Mr. Mueller’s testimony,” the New York Democrat said in response to a question Friday on WNYC radio.

Democrats pounce on citizenship question revelations
Documents show gerrymandering, not Voting Rights Act, was true motivation, Cummings alleges

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee charged Thursday that new documents cited by an advocacy group show that President Donald Trump added a citizenship question to the 2020 census primarily to give Republicans the upper hand in the next round of congressional redistricting.

The documents, which allegedly show that a Republican strategist pushed the administration to include the question for partisan gain, were revealed amid months of conflict between the committee and the administration that culminated recently in the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division defying a subpoena. They also emerged as the Supreme Court nears a decision on a challenge to the citizenship question.

House Democrats weigh next steps after Mueller announcement
Special counsel spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday, but did not take questions

Updated 3:33 p.m. | Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s announcement Wednesday that he would not disclose more information about the Russia probe prompted Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to urge more action from Congress.

But exactly what Congress will do remains unclear, underscoring the heavy political risks involved in any action — or inaction — lawmakers take ahead of the 2020 elections.

Border battle forces courts to wade into appropriations law
Congress said ‘no’ on funding for Trump’s wall. But was that a hard ‘no’?

The legal fights over President Donald Trump’s move to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border have forced the federal courts to confront a new question: What does it look like when Congress denies a president’s request for an appropriation?

The answer might seem a straightforward call. The Appropriations Clause of the Constitution says no money can be spent unless it is in a spending law. Courts have already ruled that congressional control over federal expenditures is “absolute.” Congress passed laws to reinforce that control.

Judge questions whether House can sue over border wall funding
The judge was skeptical whether federal courts should jump into the ‘ugly dispute between the political branches’

A federal judge in Washington expressed skepticism Thursday about whether the federal courts should jump into the middle of an “ugly dispute between the political branches” over the Trump administration plan to move around federal funds to build a border wall.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden said that a House lawsuit to block the Trump administration’s spending was in “unusual territory,” since higher courts have never ruled on whether the legislative branch could sue the executive branch.

Judge sides with Congress in subpoena fight over Trump records

A federal district court judge in Washington sided Monday with Congress in President Donald Trump’s lawsuit to block lawmakers from getting eight years of his financial records from an accounting firm.

The 41-page ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta in favor of the House Oversight and Reform Committee was not unexpected, and his ruling describes sweeping congressional power to subpoena records for what appears on its face to be a valid legislative purpose.

White House gets back-up from DOJ on Don McGahn testimony stance

President Donald Trump Monday ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to not testify at a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday, with the administration saying the former adviser has “absolute immunity” and is not legally required to comply with a congressional subpoena.

The move was not unexpected as part of Trump’s “oppose-all-the-subpoenas” stance since the conclusion of the special counsel investigation last month. But it further escalates the separation-of-powers showdown between the Trump administration and congressional oversight.

House urges judge to block Trump’s border wall spending
‘As I think everybody in this courtroom knows, the executive branch can’t build this wall without Congress,’ the attorney said

An attorney for the House urged a federal judge in California on Friday to block the Trump administration from moving federal funds around to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, calling the move “statutory sleight of hand, or, more accurately, three-card monte.”

Douglas N. Letter, the House general counsel, told U.S. District Court Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. that the government can’t claim the authority to divert billions of dollars for wall construction when Congress had just denied President Donald Trump’s demands to appropriate those funds.

House claims broad power in legal fight over Trump records

An attorney for the House described a sweeping congressional power to subpoena information Tuesday during a court hearing in Washington, as a federal judge appeared unlikely to block lawmakers from getting eight years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from an accounting firm.

The hearing was the first showdown over Trump’s efforts to stonewall investigations by House Democrats, including his lawsuit that argues the House Oversight and Reform Committee lacks a legitimate legislative purpose to force Mazars USA to turn over records.

How Congress can break through Trump’s stonewalling
As Trump stands firm against subpoenas, Congress looks for speed in the courts

President Donald Trump’s “we’re-fighting-all-the-subpoenas” strategy threatens to stall congressional oversight with protracted legal fights, but House Democrats have options to try to avoid those delays and pry loose information.

Lawmakers need to push judges for quick action, legal experts say. They can also press forward with subpoenas that seek testimony from witnesses who aren’t in the government, putting them outside of Trump’s executive privilege reach. Forcing the Trump administration to go to court to try to stop their efforts can also work to their advantage if the courts allow the requests to stand while the legal process churns forward.