05/19/2017 07:48 AM EDT
By Heather Caygle (firstname.lastname@example.org or @heatherscope)
GOP TO CHAFFETZ: TIME TO GIVE IT UP - Rep. Jason Chaffetz is retiring from Congress June 30, telling lawmakers he's going to Fox News. But several top Republicans are irked that Chaffetz has placed himself in the middle of the Russia scandal - he's invited former FBI Director James Comey to testify and threatened to subpoena key documents - all the while negotiating the terms of his new job. And they want him to give up the House Oversight gavel now, before the committee's Comey probe really gets underway - not in six weeks.
"Chaffetz is job-hunting when he should be doing the people's business," said one Republican who asked not to be named. But Chaffetz is digging in, saying by phone Thursday night the transition "doesn't have to be immediate but also doesn't have to be on my last day either," Rachael reports. "He said he still has a number of ongoing investigations and doesn't plan to drop them just yet." More: http://politi.co/2qE9uEb
GOWDY EYES OVERSIGHT GAVEL - The GOP Steering Committee meets the week of June 5 to pick Chaffetz's replacement but several GOP insiders say Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) already has the job locked up. "Gowdy, who chaired the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has started buttonholing members of the House Steering Committee in recent days to build support," Rachael reports. Still, the committee is stacked with House Freedom Caucus members so don't be surprised if one of them makes a long-shot bid for the chairmanship. Rachael again: http://politi.co/2qEwfHV
TEMPERS FLARE OVER FBI VACANCY - Former Sen. Joe Lieberman is emerging as President Donald Trump's top choice for FBI director. But he's already facing a major roadblock: his former colleagues. Several Senate Democrats say the former senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee is a terrible choice to take over the helm of the FBI. The reasons vary: Some senators say his job at a law firm that's represented Trump for years is an immediate disqualifier. Others argue he's too political for the post or just doesn't have the experience needed to take over the embattled bureau.
Case in point: After a monologue on Lieberman's faults, a fuming Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) ended by telling a reporter: "That's all on the record." "Joe Lieberman has no real law enforcement credentials. Look where he works now, a Trump law firm. That tells me a lot," Brown added.
'So screw them': Republicans, meanwhile, are lining up behind the idea of Lieberman as FBI director. And they're using their own colorful language to defend him: "Joe Lieberman has more experience than all of my [Democratic] colleagues combined. So screw them. And you can quote me," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told PBS NewsHour's Lisa Desjardins.
The end result? Republicans can confirm a new FBI director without Democrats. But if Trump goes ahead with Lieberman's nomination, he's gunning for a high-profile fight with Democrats and likely the most partisan vote for a FBI director in history. Burgess and Seung Min: http://politi.co/2qEgL6E
** A message from the American Society of Anesthesiologists: When Seconds Count ... Physician Anesthesiologists Save Lives. Physician anesthesiologists are medical specialists with the education and training to make critical decisions that can mean the difference between life and death. Protect patients with safe, high-quality, physician-led care. Learn more at www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. **
HOUSE BRIEFING ON COMEY FIRING - Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be back on the Hill today, briefing House members on FBI Director James Comey's firing at 10 a.m. Senators left their briefing with Rosenstein Thursday saying the deputy AG knew Comey would be fired before he wrote the memo the White House would later use to justify dismissing the FBI director. Rosenstein also assured senators that special prosecutor Robert Mueller would have wide leeway over the FBI's probe into Russia and wouldn't be interfered with by DOJ officials.
'Full-fledged criminal probe': "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the briefing made clear to him the FBI's investigation into Russia's election meddling had transitioned from being a counterintelligence probe to being a full-fledged criminal probe. 'It was a counterintelligence investigation until now,' Graham told reporters. 'It seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation.'" Austin, Elana, SMK and Burgess: http://politi.co/2pSqARC
Related: "Behind closed doors, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand blast Rosenstein for withholding information," from the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe: http://wapo.st/2qZoQpP
One side effect of Mueller as special prosecutor? Comey might not be able to testify before Congress now, Graham said. Earlier this week Graham had invited Comey to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee but said Thursday he still hasn't received a response. "We're gonna have to put him on a milk carton," Graham said. "'Have you seen this man?'" Austin again: http://politi.co/2pSAYbV
FINGERS CROSSED FOR NO FRIDAY NEWS DUMPS. Welcome to May 19 and thanks for reading POLITICO's Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill.
NERDCAST PODCAST: A week of damaging leaks on President Donald Trump's interactions with Russian diplomats and former FBI Director James Comey have once again pulled the focus away from Republicans' legislative agenda. POLITICO's Scott Bland, Charlie Mahtesian, Eliana Johnson and Ken Vogel discuss on the latest episode of POLITICO's Nerdcast - plus, Elena Schneider joins to preview next week's special House election in Montana. Listen and subscribe: iTunes | Panoply | Stitcher
THURSDAY'S MOST CLICKED: The CRS report on independent commissions and special prosecutors got the most clicks.
INTEL COMMITTEES GET TRUMP TREASURY DOCS - Leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees "have obtained access to valuable data from the Treasury Department, a development that will open their doors to investigate possible connections between President Donald Trump's business empire and Russians, CNN has learned." Tom LoBianco: http://cnn.it/2pSwhPh
TRUMP'S UNREALISTIC BUDGET IDEAS - Trump is proposing to balance the budget over the next decade by slashing federal safety-net programs for the poor - while leaving Social Security and Medicare untouched - combined with overhauling the tax code. But, as the Wall Street Journal's Nick Timiraos points out, the math just doesn't add up. And "overly aggressive growth assumptions could undercut the administration's ability to sell its agenda to Congress"
The deets: "The White House projects the nation's economic growth rate will rise to 3% by 2021, compared with the 1.9% forecast under current policy by the Congressional Budget Office. ...Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month said they believed Mr. Trump's policies were likely to boost growth to 2.3% over the long run." More: http://on.wsj.com/2pSsQIm
Paid family leave, a proposal long championed by Democrats and Ivanka Trump (though they often disagree on the details), is expected to be included in Trump's budget proposal, the Washington Post reports. More: http://wapo.st/2qZJtSL
FIRST IN HUDDLE: ONE ad buy: ONE, the international non-profit that seeks to end extreme poverty, is going up with a $20,000 ad buy in Kentucky urging GOP leaders to fight to keep foreign aid in the fiscal 2018 funding bill. The ad, which features a local Kentucky teacher who volunteers with the group, will be aimed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations panel that oversees foreign aid. Watch the ad: http://bit.ly/2pSxW7x
WAIT, DIDN'T WE JUST DO THIS? There's a chance the House could have to re-vote on it's narrowly passed plan to repeal Obamacare, and it all depends on what the CBO says, Bloomberg reports. "According to several aides and other procedural experts, if Republicans send the bill to the Senate now and the CBO later concludes it doesn't save at least $2 billion, it would doom the bill and Republicans would have to start their repeal effort all over with a new budget resolution. ... If Republican leaders hold onto the bill until the CBO report is released, then Ryan and his team could still redo it if necessary. That would require at least one more House vote of some sort." Much more from Billy House: https://bloom.bg/2pSB7fp
ROHRABACHER WARNED OF RUSSIA RECRUITMENT - California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Congress' chief Russia defender, was warned by FBI agents in 2012 that the Kremlin was trying to recruit him as a spy, the New York Times reports. "Law enforcement officials did not think that Mr. Rohrabacher was actively working with Russian intelligence, officials said, rather that he was being targeted as an unwitting player in a Russian effort to gain access in Washington," Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti write. More: http://nyti.ms/2pRW9ep
END YOUR WEEK ON A HIGH NOTE - ICYMI, make sure to check out snaps Getty's Mark Wilson captured of senators shooting the breeze together outside one of the Senate office buildings yesterday. There's Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse in casual wear with a perplexed look on his face, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) with an untied tie around his neck and large coffee in hand and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) in running gear. "Holy moly - it looks like @SenSchumer and I are smoking reefer outside a wedding..." Sasse tweeted. See the pics: http://bit.ly/2pSlWCS
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) even got in on the caption contest taking over Twitter yesterday: "So anyway, it's a romper for guys and it's called the RompHim and I just ordered two," he tweeted about the pic with Schumer holding up two fingers while talking with Sasse and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
HUDDLE'S WEEKEND READ: How Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey went from understated to woke as part of the Trump resistance, from Matt Flegenheimer. The senator, "whose voice rarely exceeds the decibel level of a yoga instructor ...is not behaving like a senator approaching a re-election race next year in a state Mr. Trump carried ...Nor is Mr. Casey behaving, according to some friends and supporters, entirely like himself ...But Mr. Casey insists his higher gear has existed all along, suggesting that his circumstances have shifted far more than his legislative priorities." The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/2pRXNwB
TODAY IN CONGRESS - The House meets at 9 a.m. with first and last votes between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Today's agenda: http://bit.ly/2qCBpEk. The Senate isn't in session (duh, it's Friday y'all).
AROUND THE HILL - Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief House members at 10 a.m. in the CVC auditorium.
THURSDAY'S TRIVIA WINNER - Ziad Ojakli correctly guessed that Bruce Evans, staff director on the Senate Appropriations Committee, was the answer to yesterday's trivia question. His father, Daniel Evans, was governor of Washington for a decade and later served as a senator for one term.
TODAY'S TRIVIA - Ziad with today's question: Which former senator served at the same time his college fraternity brother was president? Name the senator and the president. The first person to correctly answer gets a shout out in Monday's Huddle. And don't forget, send suggestions for trivia questions my way: email@example.com
HOW DETROIT IS BEATING ITS BLIGHT: Land banks are the Swiss Army knives of urban reclamation efforts, wielding an array of powers to make abandoned, tax-foreclosed properties useful again. In the latest installment of POLITICO Magazine's "What Works" series, we visit the city of Detroit, which went from a robust city of 1.8 million in 1950 to barely a third of that size today.
Learn how Mayor Mike Duggan's administration created the largest land bank in the U.S., taking control of 98,000 properties to help his city rebound from bankruptcy and an unprecedented level of decline. Read more.
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** A message from the American Society of Anesthesiologists: When Seconds Count ... Physician Anesthesiologists Save Lives. Every surgery has risks. During her presurgery consultation, teenager Hunter shared information that triggered concerns by her physician anesthesiologist. As a highly trained physician with extensive medical knowledge and expertise in anesthesia - and in the human body and its systems - the physician anesthesiologist suspected Hunter might have an undiagnosed condition that could result in profound surgical complications. The physician anesthesiologist canceled Hunter's surgery and ordered additional tests - and that decision altered Hunter's life. If the original surgery had been performed, Hunter's life could have changed completely. Having a physician anesthesiologist leading Hunter's care saved her from being paralyzed and resulted in a diagnosis and successful treatment of a brain tumor. Protect patients with safe, high-quality, physician-led care. Learn more through the American Society of Anesthesiologist's When Seconds Count initiative at www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. **
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