Sheldon Whitehouse

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report
The Senate voted to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

William Barr takes over the Justice Department on Thursday at a pivotal moment for the nation’s legal landscape, with his tenure closely tied to how he will handle the special counsel’s Russia investigation and any political pressure from the White House.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines. Senators have strong clues that he will continue the Trump administration’s conservative policies and legal arguments on immigration, civil rights enforcement and LGBT employment discrimination.

Democrats ‘went low’ on Twitter leading up to 2018
An analysis of tweets from candidates running for Senate leading up to Election Day

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., arrives for the confirmation hearing for Neomi Rao, nominee to be U.S. circuit judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 5. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Voters in 2016 repeatedly heard Democrats cry out against negative Republican rhetoric, especially from the party’s presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“When they go low … ?” came the call at rally podiums. “We go high!” constituents would shout.

Sheldon Whitehouse takes aim at funding disclosure for court briefs
Rhode Island Democrat writes to chief justice about planned legislation

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has concerns the Supreme Court is not fairly enforcing a rule that prohibits someone from filing an amicus curiae when contributors to the effort are anonymous. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the Supreme Court that he intends to introduce legislation this year meant to shed light on the funding behind groups that frequently file briefs aimed at influencing the outcome of high-profile cases.

The Rhode Island Democrat often decries how high-dollar, dark money donations can be funneled through advocacy groups to anonymously press political agendas through the Supreme Court and lower appeals courts — what he dubs “judicial lobbying efforts.”

Judiciary panel sets Barr vote, ‘ginormous loophole’ or no
Lingering questions for attorney general nominee aren’t enough to slow confirmation process

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., still have questions for the president’s attorney general nominee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:40 p.m. | The Senate Judiciary Committee will press attorney general nominee William Barr about a possible “ginormous loophole” in his commitment to make public what the special counsel investigation finds about President Donald Trump.

Committee member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, on Tuesday highlighted two possible ways in which Barr’s commitment to transparency could actually mean he would release no information about Trump or anyone else who is not charged with a crime.

Health law appeal paused as shutdown affects federal courts
Justice Department also asks for pause in suit concerning acting AG Whitaker

Citing the shutdown, Justice Department lawyers asked for a pause in a suit challenging the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, pictured here. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown halted a major challenge to the 2010 health care law among other civil litigation on Friday, as Justice Department lawyers sought the same in a challenge from three Senate Democrats to the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a two-page order granting the Trump administration’s request to halt the 2010 health care law case “in light of lapse of appropriations.”

2018 in 5 Minutes: The Best of Congressional Hits and Misses
 

As the 115th Congress limps across the finish line with several unfinished spending bills and a partially shutdown federal government, Hits and Misses takes a look back at our favorite funny, awkward and downright bizarre moments from the House and Senate in 2018.

For Stripped-Down Criminal Justice Bill, Less Could Be More
Sen. Kamala Harris: It’s a ‘compromise of a compromise‘

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced her support for the bill Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill that advanced Monday evening falls short of what lawmakers and advocates had sought to do with the measure more than four years ago — but now that’s the key to enacting the most sweeping changes to prison and sentencing laws in decades.

The latest version, on the floor via an unrelated bill, is whittled down to the provisions with the broadest support, bulked up with measures demanded by law enforcement and tough-on-crime Republicans, and tweaked to get the backing of President Donald Trump.

Democrats Press Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to Disclose More About Political Ads
Senators want voluntary disclosures about buyers of politically charged advertising

Democrats want Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to offer more voluntary disclosure about political ads. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A contingent of Senate Democratic Conference members want Facebook to voluntarily disclose more about the sources of advertising dollars on the social media platform.

The group led by New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, highlights in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg efforts by Russia to use Facebook to spread political messaging to undermine the U.S. electoral process.

Schumer Asks if Acting AG Talked to White House About Russia Probe Details
Senate Democratic leader requests review by Justice Department inspector general

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has  questions about contacts between the White House and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker about the Russia investigation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants to know if the acting attorney general talked to the White House about the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Specifically, the New York Democrat is asking Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz about contacts between Matthew G. Whitaker and other parts of the Donald Trump administration about the work of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team.

Democratic Senators Sue Trump Over Whitaker Appointment
Blumenthal, Whitehouse, Hirono say move violates Appointments Clause

Matt Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general by President Donald Trump after Jeff Sessions was asked to stepped down. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, asking a federal court to stop him from leading the Justice Department.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii argue in the case that President Donald Trump’s move to name Whitaker temporarily as the nation’s top law enforcement official violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.