House Republicans have selected white men to chair all but one of their standing committees next year.
The secretive Republican Steering Committee announced its recommendations late Tuesday after an all-day meeting to pick the heads of 17 committees, with all of those slots going to white men. Rep. Candice Miller, who was previously reappointed by Speaker John Boehner to lead the House Administration Committee, will remain the only woman to wield a gavel.
Rep. Devin Nunes—who is of Portuguese descent—will head the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (Nearly every committee in the GOP-controlled Senate is also expected to be chaired by a man in the 114th Congress.)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz will chair the Oversight and Government Reform Committee next year, concluding the only seriously contested House Republican gavel race.
Chaffetz beat out Ohio Reps. Mike Turner and Jim Jordan for the nod, even though the latter two share a home state with Speaker John Boehner.
In the only other contested race, Rep. Mac Thornberry was handed the gavel of the Armed Services Committee, a title he sought six years ago but lost to Buck McKeon, a close friend of Speaker John Boehner’s. Rep. Randy Forbes was also seeking the chairmanship but was not considered a serious threat to Thornberry’s ascendancy.
As expected, Rep. Paul Ryan was selected as Ways and Means Committee chairman, fulfilling a longtime personal goal. Rep. Kevin Brady had been challenging him for the gavel, but dropped out ahead of the Steering Committee vote, making the vote unanimous. Rep. Jeb Hensarling also retained his Financial Services Committee gavel after Rep. Frank Lucas dropped his bid to wrest it from Hensarling.
Other new chairmen are as follows: Rep. Mike Conaway was named as Agriculture Committee chairman, Rep. Tom Price as Budget Chairman, Rep. Rob Bishop as Natural Resources chairman, and Rep. Steve Chabot as Small Business chairman. Boehner previously announced that Rep. Charlie Dent will head the Ethics Committee.
The full conference will meet Wednesday morning to ratify the Steering Committee’s choices.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
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