cabinet

Kelly Admits Missteps With White House Aides’ Clearances
Embattled chief of staff to phase out interim security clearances

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, seen here with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, has altered how the West Wing handles aides’ security clearances after the Rob Porter domestic assault scandal. (AP/Andrew Harnik file photo)

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, under fire after a former staffer’s domestic abuse scandal, has admitted the Trump team mishandled aides’ background investigations, and ordered new steps in how the West Wing handles security clearances.

In a five-page memo to staffers released Friday afternoon by the White House, Kelly alluded to the Rob Porter scandal but also attempted to spread the blame for a process he said was flawed but was one he inherited.

After Shooting, Trump Focuses on Mental Health, Not Guns
President says safety at schools will be priority, not limiting access to firearms

Members of the West Ohio Minutemen practice their right to carry firearms near the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An American citizen’s use of a military-style semi-automatic weapon to carry out a mass murder on U.S. soil thrust President Donald Trump into a somber spotlight on Thursday, and he sent a clear signal he views the incident as about mental health, not guns.

The president offered his condolences to the loved ones of the 17 people law enforcement officials say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He also spoke in the same measured tone he and his predecessor, Barack Obama, have used following shooters’ murderous rampages.

Trump Divided, Conquered in First Year in Office
An analysis of votes cast in 2017 shows GOP senators voted with the president 96 percent of the time

President Donald Trump speaks in January. An analysis of congressional votes suggests that Trump’s first year in office was a time of deepening partisanship. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump campaigned as a successful business mogul whose negotiating skills made him uniquely qualified to be a president capable of ending Washington’s decades of bitter partisanship to get things done.

Trump, in fact, got his way on almost every vote last year where he publicly stated a position, setting a record for success. The results of votes by both House and Senate combined show he won 98.7 percent of the time on issues he supported. That set a new bicameral record, besting Obama’s 96.7 percent success level in 2009 (the last time a president’s party controlled both chambers.)

‘Crisis Budgeting’ Likely Ahead Despite White House Claim
‘All sorts of riders’ could bring new shutdown threats, experts say

Copies of President Donald Trump’’s 2019 budget request are unpacked by House Budget Committee staff on Monday. Experts say it won’t end Washington’s decade of ‘crisis budgeting.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials contend the two-year budget deal that became law last week will end Washington’s spending crises and government shutdown threats. But President Donald Trump’s new budget request suggests otherwise.

Trump himself was lukewarm about the spending package he signed last week, which raised defense and domestic spending caps for the remaining seven-and-a-half months of this fiscal year and the next. And the president had little to say about the fiscal 2019 budget blueprint his administration sent to Capitol Hill on Monday. But his top aides painted each one as game-changing documents.

The Other Memo Lawmakers Want the Public to See — But Trump Doesn’t
The White House has shrouded a seven-page memo outlining POTUS’ interpretation of war powers

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban in May 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine is demanding that the White House release a secret memo outlining President Donald Trump’s interpretation of his legal basis to wage war.

The Virginia Democrat, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday requesting that he hand over the seven-page document drafted last spring.

Trump Likely Has Authority To Extend DACA Deadline, Experts Say
Competing camps within administration further complicate murky situation

Immigration rights demonstrators march in September from the White House to the Trump International Hotel and the Justice Department to oppose President Trump's decision to end the DACA program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Legal experts dispute a claim from some senior Trump administration officials that President Donald Trump lacks the legal authority to extend his own deadline for ending an immigration program that protects nearly 700,00 people from deportation.

Senior White House and Cabinet officials in recent days have sent mixed messages about whether Trump could merely amend a September executive order that gave Congress until March 5 to legalize the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Abuse Charges, Military Parade Put White House on Defensive
Trump still has confidence in Staff Secretary Rob Porter despite ex-wives’ allegations

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees on July 14, 2017, in Paris. (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images file photo)

The White House moved one step closer to achieving its goal of a two-year budget deal that increases military spending, but was dogged Wednesday by questions about a possible military parade through the streets of Washington and a senior adviser accused of multiple assaults on ex-wives.

As Senate Republican and Democratic leaders announced a spending deal that includes several White House priorities, senior aides in the West Wing spent much of the day holed up in meetings about allegations Staff Secretary Rob Porter punched and kicked — and otherwise abused — his two ex-wives.

At White House, a Day of Contradictions
President and senior officials offer differing shutdown, DACA stances

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak as Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him in October. The two offered different opinions of whether the president can extend his own deadline on the DACA program. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Senior White House officials — from President Donald Trump on down — again on Tuesday contradicted one another and struggled to express clear messages as key deadlines approach.

Would Trump really shutter the government this week unless a bipartisan immigration deal is in place? Depends on who is speaking.

Reality Check: Trump’s State of the Union Vision Blurred By Congress
‘The state of our union is strong because our people are strong,’ president says

President Donald Trump applauds during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul D. Ryan look on. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump described an ambitious vision of Democratic members joining him and Republicans in overhauling immigration policy and rebuilding the country’s aging infrastructure. Reality, however, shows how difficult it all will be.

Trump, after a year of harsh comments and tweets about Democrats, struck a new tone Tuesday — at least for one night — by describing a country in which “all of us” should come “together, as one team, one people, and one American family.” The president who has yet to pass major legislation with a single Democratic vote said he wants “both parties to come together.”

Highlights From Trump’s State of the Union
Republicans cheer, Democrats sit on their hands as president lays out his vision

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., rides by as technicians set up lighting in Statuary Hall in preparation for President Donald Trumps' first State of the Union Address on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

While he aimed to deliver a unifying speech, President Donald Trump was speaking to half of the House chamber on Tuesday on a number of the goals he carried from his campaign in his first State of the Union address.

The president hit the familiar themes of a wall along the southern U.S. border and making America great again, which got cheers from the Republican side of the room — even eliciting chants of “U-S-A!” from Republicans — but had Democrats sitting on their hands.