2006 Vote Ratings: Special Report - Left to Right

March 3, 2007, 7 a.m.

Richard E. Co­hen

In the already-com­bat­ive 2008 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, most of the can­did­ates in each party are mem­bers of Con­gress, and they have cast many hun­dreds — even thou­sands — of votes. Their le­gis­lat­ive track re­cords leave the White House con­tenders open to plenty of poin­ted ques­tions from voters and the news me­dia — and provide op­pon­ents with end­less op­por­tun­ity for mis­chief and at­tacks.

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, D-N.Y., for in­stance, has been strug­gling to de­fend her vote on Oc­to­ber 11, 2002, in fa­vor of the res­ol­u­tion au­thor­iz­ing the use of U.S. mil­it­ary force in Ir­aq. “If I had known then what I know now, I would nev­er have voted to give this pres­id­ent that au­thor­ity,” she has said re­peatedly. But Clin­ton has been un­will­ing to sat­is­fy those who want her to “apo­lo­gize” or to ac­know­ledge that she erred. “If the most im­port­ant thing to any of you is choos­ing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mis­take, then there are oth­ers to choose from,” she said in New Hamp­shire on Feb­ru­ary 17.

Sen. John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz., mean­while, has run in­to trouble for a vote that he did not cast. He was ab­sent when the Sen­ate held a rare Sat­urday ses­sion on Feb­ru­ary 17 to take up the House-passed res­ol­u­tion op­pos­ing Pres­id­ent Bush’s troop surge in Ir­aq. Dur­ing an ap­pear­ance in South Car­o­lina, Mc­Cain called the vote “a charade, a joke, a pub­li­city stunt on the part of the Demo­crats.” But Demo­crats hammered him nev­er­the­less. “Mc­Cain’s de­cision to cam­paign in­stead of vote of­fers the Amer­ic­an people an un­flat­ter­ing glimpse at an es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ate who will do any­thing to win the Re­pub­lic­an primary,” a Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee spokes­man said.

As the cam­paign in­tens­i­fies, the law­makers-turned-pres­id­en­tial-wan­nabes will be put on the spot to ex­plain their votes on count­less top­ics: tax cuts, Medi­care cov­er­age, abor­tion rights, im­mig­ra­tion policy, de­fense spend­ing, for­eign aid, and on and on. “A mem­ber of Con­gress’s his­tory of roll-call votes is an op­pos­i­tion re­search­er’s gold mine,” said Neil Ne­w­house, a part­ner in Pub­lic Opin­ion Strategies, a Re­pub­lic­an con­sult­ing firm based in Al­ex­an­dria, Va. “Any­body with a vot­ing re­cord is vul­ner­able.” His pres­id­en­tial cam­paign cli­ents have in­cluded Bob Dole, who was forced to de­fend 27 years of Sen­ate votes, and George W. Bush, who was nev­er a le­gis­lat­or.

An­ita Dunn, a vet­er­an cam­paign strategist at the Wash­ing­ton-based Demo­crat­ic firm Squier Knapp Dunn, said that the pub­lic has grown “in­creas­ingly skep­tic­al about the single vote plucked out of thin air in a cam­paign.” But “a pat­tern of vot­ing is more prob­lem­at­ic,” she said. “And when the words come dir­ectly from a can­did­ate’s mouth, voters are less skep­tic­al.”

Both Ne­w­house and Dunn poin­ted to the now-in­fam­ous ex­plan­a­tion giv­en by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., dur­ing the 2004 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, when he tried to cla­ri­fy his op­pos­i­tion to an Ir­aq war spend­ing bill by not­ing, “I voted for it be­fore I voted against it.” The cur­rent crop of pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates and their hand­lers, the op­er­at­ives warned, must be pre­pared to avoid such blun­ders. “Can­did­ates should make sure that they do a thor­ough re­view of their re­cord be­fore they be­gin a cam­paign … and plan ac­cord­ingly,” Dunn said. Ac­cord­ing to Ne­w­house, “It’s hard to re­but the facts about a vote. Can­did­ates have to re­spond more broadly.”

Na­tion­al Journ­al’s con­gres­sion­al vote rat­ings for 2006 demon­strate that plenty of am­muni­tion will be avail­able dur­ing the pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. The com­puter-as­sisted rat­ings, which NJ has pre­pared an­nu­ally since 1981, used 82 key votes in the Sen­ate and 95 in the House to meas­ure the mem­bers of each cham­ber on an ideo­lo­gic­al scale.

Of the four Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors who are run­ning for pres­id­ent, Barack Obama of Illinois had the most lib­er­al score in 2006. He was fol­lowed by Sens. Chris­toph­er Dodd of Con­necti­c­ut, Joseph Biden of Delaware, and Clin­ton. In fact, Clin­ton was markedly more mod­er­ate in 2006 than Obama, who was the 10th-most-lib­er­al sen­at­or. The sole Demo­crat­ic pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate from the House, Den­nis Ku­cinich of Ohio, had a strongly lib­er­al vot­ing re­cord. (See chart, p. 22.)

Among the three Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors who have form­ally de­clared their can­did­acy for the White House, or are ser­i­ously con­sid­er­ing a run, the most con­ser­vat­ive in 2006 was Chuck Hagel of Neb­raska. Close be­hind him was Sam Brown­back of Kan­sas, while Mc­Cain was more mod­er­ate. Of the three House Re­pub­lic­ans who have launched long-shot pres­id­en­tial bids, Duncan Hunter of Cali­for­nia was the most con­ser­vat­ive, fol­lowed by Tom Tan­credo of Col­or­ado and the mav­er­ick Ron Paul of Texas. (See chart, p. 24)

What fol­lows are high­lights of those 11 can­did­ates’ 2006 scores, plus a look at their his­tor­ies in NJ’s vote rat­ings over the course of their le­gis­lat­ive ca­reers. (For an ex­plan­a­tion of the key votes used to cal­cu­late this year’s rat­ings, see pp. 42-47. The vote rat­ings from 1995-2006 are avail­able on­line at na­tion­al journ­al.com.)

Demo­crats

Obama: Dur­ing his two years in the Sen­ate, Obama has been among its more lib­er­al mem­bers. In the 152 Sen­ate votes that were used in NJ’s rat­ings in 2005 and 2006, he voted against the lib­er­al po­s­i­tion only 12 times. Many of those votes dealt with na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sues or pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tions. Per­haps his most high-pro­file split with lib­er­al or­tho­doxy came on the second vote that he cast in the Sen­ate, to con­firm Con­doleezza Rice as sec­ret­ary of State; 13 Demo­crats op­posed her nom­in­a­tion. Obama sided with con­ser­vat­ives three times on Bush’s ju­di­cial nom­in­ees: He voted in 2005 for clo­ture on Priscilla Owen and to con­firm Thomas Grif­fith, and in 2006 for clo­ture on Brett Kavanaugh.

Obama has sided with con­ser­vat­ives on sev­er­al anti-ter­ror­ism is­sues, in­clud­ing a vote au­thor­iz­ing the con­struc­tion of a new pris­on at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and two early-2006 votes on ex­tend­ing the USA PAT­RI­OT Act. And he par­ted com­pany with Sen­ate lib­er­als on three for­eign-policy votes last year by op­pos­ing a re­quire­ment that Bush with­draw all troops from Ir­aq by Ju­ly 2007, and by sup­port­ing a free-trade agree­ment with Oman and a nuc­le­ar en­ergy agree­ment with In­dia.

Obama split with lib­er­als on only two eco­nom­ic votes, both in 2005: He voted to give the fed­er­al courts jur­is­dic­tion over most class-ac­tion law­suits, and he backed the en­ergy bill con­fer­ence re­port. In 2006, he was one of 13 Sen­ate Demo­crats with a per­fect lib­er­al score on eco­nom­ic is­sues. Obama’s 12 con­ser­vat­ive votes in the 2005-2006 rat­ings in­cluded four on which Clin­ton sided with the lib­er­als: She voted against class-ac­tion law­suit re­form, the en­ergy bill, the Grif­fith nom­in­a­tion, and clo­ture on Kavanaugh.

Al­though Obama’s “life­time av­er­age” com­pos­ite score in NJ’s vote rat­ings is the most lib­er­al of the cur­rent pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates who serve in Con­gress, the res­ults give him some evid­ence to as­sert that he has not been an ideo­logue. Fif­teen sen­at­ors were more lib­er­al than him in 2005, and nine were more lib­er­al than him in 2006. In each case, the more lib­er­al sen­at­ors in­cluded Obama’s home-state col­league, Richard Durbin, the Demo­crat­ic whip.

Dodd: The vote rat­ings for Dodd — the sev­enth-most-seni­or Sen­ate Demo­crat, who is now chair­man of the Bank­ing, Hous­ing, and Urb­an Af­fairs Com­mit­tee — ranged widely dur­ing his first two terms. From 1981 to 1984, he con­sist­ently scored among the most lib­er­al sen­at­ors. Al­though nev­er No. 1, he was among the top 10 lib­er­als dur­ing each of those years. He then moved meas­ur­ably to­ward the cen­ter. In 1991 and 1992, his com­pos­ite score placed him among the most con­ser­vat­ive third of Sen­ate Demo­crats, es­pe­cially on for­eign policy.

Since that time, his rat­ings have shown a re­mark­able con­sist­ency, pla­cing Dodd — who suffered a one-vote loss to Tom Daschle in a bid to be­come minor­ity lead­er in 1995 — near the cen­ter of Sen­ate Demo­crats. From 1994 to 2005, with one ex­cep­tion, his com­pos­ite lib­er­al scores ranged nar­rowly between 75.5 and 81.5. Dur­ing that same peri­od, his rat­ing on for­eign is­sues was of­ten to­ward the cen­ter, while his scores on so­cial is­sues were to­ward the left.

In 2006, as Dodd was pre­par­ing to launch his pres­id­en­tial bid, he earned his second-most-lib­er­al com­pos­ite score since 1984. He had a nearly per­fect lib­er­al score on so­cial is­sues, ex­cept for his vote to ap­prove the con­fer­ence re­port to ex­tend the PAT­RI­OT Act. As in the past, he was more cent­rist on for­eign policy, where he par­ted com­pany with lib­er­als by op­pos­ing “am­nesty” for ter­ror­ists in Ir­aq, a troop with­draw­al dead­line in Ir­aq, and set­ting con­di­tions on the use of cluster bombs, and by sup­port­ing the nuc­le­ar en­ergy pact with In­dia.

Clin­ton: A re­view of Clin­ton’s vote-rat­ings scores shows a clear-cut shift. In the first three years after her elec­tion in 2000, when she fo­cused her at­ten­tion chiefly on her home state, she was twice among the most lib­er­al sen­at­ors: She ranked 12th in 2002 and tied for sev­enth the fol­low­ing year. In each year, Clin­ton had a per­fect lib­er­al score on so­cial is­sues; she had a per­fect lib­er­al rat­ing on eco­nom­ic is­sues in 2002.

Since then, with the pro­spect of a pres­id­en­tial bid loom­ing, Clin­ton has moved not­ably to­ward the right among Sen­ate Demo­crats. Only 12 Demo­crats had a more con­ser­vat­ive score in 2004, and 12 were to her right again last year; most of them were from the South or West. In those two re­cent cases, her rat­ings were close to those of Sen. Joe Lieber­man, ID-Conn., whose grow­ing in­de­pend­ence has riled many of the party faith­ful. Al­though her cent­rism could prove use­ful if she wins the nom­in­a­tion, Clin­ton is already tak­ing flak from lib­er­als who are un­happy with her votes, es­pe­cially her re­fus­al to second-guess her 2002 vote au­thor­iz­ing the Ir­aq war.

Over­all, Clin­ton has been more con­sist­ently lib­er­al on so­cial is­sues and more con­ser­vat­ive on for­eign policy. Her for­eign-policy splits with lib­er­als dur­ing the past two years have in­cluded sup­port­ing the Rice nom­in­a­tion, funds for tele­vi­sion broad­casts to Cuba, the Guantanamo pris­on, the Oman trade deal, and the In­dia nuc­le­ar agree­ment, and op­pos­ing a troop with­draw­al dead­line in Ir­aq and set­ting con­di­tions on the use of cluster bombs. On so­cial policy, she sided with con­ser­vat­ives in 2005 and 2006 only on three PAT­RI­OT Act votes and on clo­ture on the Owen nom­in­a­tion.

Biden: Like Dodd, Biden in­ev­it­ably will be iden­ti­fied by his long ca­reer in the Sen­ate, where he was first elec­ted in 1972 and now chairs the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee. And Biden’s vote rat­ings, like Dodd’s, re­veal some peaks and val­leys. His most lib­er­al phase was between 1986 and 1992, when he was among the 11 most-lib­er­al sen­at­ors three times; he had per­fect lib­er­al scores on for­eign policy dur­ing those three years. Not co­in­cid­ent­ally, per­haps, Biden ran for pres­id­ent in 1988, and he presided as chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee dur­ing some epic show­downs with Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ents.

At oth­er times, Biden has been more of a cent­rist. Four times from 1993 to 1998 his com­pos­ite lib­er­al score fell to the 60s — most not­ably in 1997, when only three of the 45 Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors had a more con­ser­vat­ive rat­ing. That year, as of­ten has been the case for Biden, his score on so­cial policy was more con­ser­vat­ive than his rat­ing on eco­nom­ic or for­eign is­sues.

More re­cently, Biden has fit reg­u­larly near the cen­ter of Sen­ate Demo­crats — sim­il­ar to Dodd, but gen­er­ally slightly less lib­er­al. In a con­trast to his ca­reer pat­tern, he was more con­ser­vat­ive in 2006 on for­eign policy than in the oth­er areas. He par­ted com­pany with Sen­ate lib­er­als in sup­port­ing con­firm­a­tion of Mi­chael Hay­den as CIA dir­ect­or and the In­dia nuc­le­ar en­ergy deal, and in op­pos­ing the troop with­draw­al dead­line in Ir­aq and set­ting con­di­tions on cluster bombs. Biden had a per­fect lib­er­al score last year on eco­nom­ic policy.

Ku­cinich: First elec­ted to the House in 1996 from a largely blue-col­lar dis­trict, Ku­cinich spent his early years in the con­ser­vat­ive wing of his party, es­pe­cially on so­cial policy, where he voted against abor­tion rights. From 2001 to 2003, he moved more to­ward the cen­ter of House Demo­crats.

Since 2004, however, when he per­sist­ently pur­sued a pres­id­en­tial bid against long odds, Ku­cinich has been among the most lib­er­al House mem­bers — in­clud­ing on so­cial policy, where he shif­ted his stance to sup­port abor­tion rights. In 2005, he was the 20th-most-lib­er­al mem­ber of the House, with a per­fect lib­er­al score on for­eign policy and three lib­er­al de­fec­tions on the 83 House eco­nom­ic and so­cial votes that year.

Re­pub­lic­ans

Brown­back: Al­though Brown­back is the most con­ser­vat­ive of the Sen­ate’s pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates over­all, his vote rat­ings in re­cent years have been mov­ing to­ward the middle. When he entered the Sen­ate in 1997, after com­pil­ing a re­l­at­ively cent­rist vot­ing re­cord dur­ing two years in the House, he made his mark as one of sev­en Re­pub­lic­ans who had a per­fect con­ser­vat­ive vot­ing re­cord that year — along with such firm ideo­logues as then-Sens. John Ash­croft of Mis­souri, Phil Gramm of Texas, and Strom Thur­mond of South Car­o­lina. Dur­ing each of the next three years, Brown­back ranked as either the 14th- or 15th-most-con­ser­vat­ive among the 50-plus GOP sen­at­ors.

Since then, Brown­back’s com­pos­ite scores have made him more of a cent­rist among Re­pub­lic­ans, though with some twists and turns. In 2003, for ex­ample, his for­eign-policy rat­ing was near the cen­ter of the Sen­ate, but he had a per­fect con­ser­vat­ive re­cord on so­cial is­sues. Last year, by con­trast, his rat­ing on so­cial policy was near the Sen­ate’s cen­ter, but he had a nearly per­fect con­ser­vat­ive re­cord on eco­nom­ic is­sues. The chief reas­on for Brown­back’s mod­er­ate score on so­cial is­sues in 2006 was that he sup­por­ted the Sen­ate-passed com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form bill — and op­posed most amend­ments to the meas­ure — even though many con­ser­vat­ives strongly ob­jec­ted to the bill.

With Brown­back por­tray­ing him­self in his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign as a “com­pas­sion­ate con­ser­vat­ive” with a “pro-fam­ily” agenda, some of his past Sen­ate votes could raise ques­tions from po­ten­tial sup­port­ers and force him to ex­plain his ac­tions.

Mc­Cain: Like Brown­back’s, Mc­Cain’s vote rat­ings have moved sig­ni­fic­antly to­ward the cen­ter dur­ing his Sen­ate ca­reer. In the first eight years after his 1986 elec­tion, Mc­Cain was typ­ic­ally among the more con­ser­vat­ive GOP sen­at­ors. His com­pos­ite score placed him 14th among con­ser­vat­ives in 1989, and eighth in 1994, with per­fect con­ser­vat­ive scores on eco­nom­ic is­sues each of those years and on so­cial is­sues in 1994.

Start­ing with the Re­pub­lic­an takeover of Con­gress in 1995, Mc­Cain moved stead­ily away from hard-right ad­voc­ates. In 2000, dur­ing his bit­ter show­down with Bush for the GOP pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion, his scores in each of the three is­sue areas were much closer to the cen­ter of the Sen­ate. That trend con­tin­ued dur­ing the Bush pres­id­ency. In 2004, Mc­Cain was the third-most-lib­er­al Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­an (be­hind only Lin­coln Chafee of Rhode Is­land and Olympia Snowe of Maine), with mod­er­ate scores in each of the three is­sue areas that po­si­tioned him vir­tu­ally at the cen­ter of the cham­ber.

In the two years since then, Mc­Cain has pulled back slightly from the cen­ter, with a more con­ser­vat­ive score on so­cial is­sues in 2005 and on eco­nom­ic is­sues in 2006. But he has re­mained among the 10 most-mod­er­ate Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans. He op­posed some tax cuts and sup­por­ted ef­forts to lim­it green­house-gas emis­sions in 2005, for ex­ample, and he co-sponsored the com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form bill in 2006. As Mc­Cain makes a dir­ect ap­peal to Bush sup­port­ers in the 2008 cam­paign, ob­serv­ers will be watch­ing the im­pact of these votes.

Hagel: Hagel’s re­cent scores have placed him with Brown­back and Mc­Cain among mod­er­ate Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans. But, un­like those two, Hagel does not have an earli­er his­tory as a strong con­ser­vat­ive. In­ter­est­ingly, his com­pos­ite score has been more con­ser­vat­ive than Mc­Cain’s in nine of the 10 years they have served to­geth­er. In 2006, for in­stance, when Mc­Cain was the 46th-most-con­ser­vat­ive sen­at­or (and Brown­back was 34th), Hagel was 29th.

Hagel sided with con­ser­vat­ives — and against Mc­Cain — on sev­er­al is­sues last year, in­clud­ing sup­port for a trust fund to com­pensate as­bes­tos vic­tims and for re­search and de­vel­op­ment to modi­fy the Tri­dent bal­list­ic mis­sile, plus op­pos­i­tion to “pay-as-you-go” budget rules, ne­go­ti­at­ing au­thor­ity for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment on Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug prices, and fund­ing for em­bryon­ic-stem-cell re­search.

Hunter: Among the three House Re­pub­lic­ans who have de­clared a pres­id­en­tial bid, Hunter has the most-con­ser­vat­ive vote rat­ings over­all. Since en­ter­ing the House in 1981, his scores have typ­ic­ally been to­ward the con­ser­vat­ive side in each of the three cat­egor­ies. In 1987 and 1988, for in­stance, his com­pos­ite scores placed him among the most con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers, and he had per­fect con­ser­vat­ive scores on so­cial and for­eign-policy is­sues each year. He had a sim­il­ar pat­tern in 1994, with per­fect con­ser­vat­ive scores on eco­nom­ic and so­cial is­sues.

After Re­pub­lic­ans gained House con­trol in 1995, Hunter’s scores mod­er­ated a bit, partly be­cause he took a more pro­tec­tion­ist ap­proach to some eco­nom­ic and for­eign is­sues. That trend has abated in the past two years, and he has largely re­turned to the con­ser­vat­ive fold.

Tan­credo: Like Hunter, Tan­credo began his House ca­reer on a con­ser­vat­ive note, but his vote rat­ings have moved con­sist­ently to­ward the middle. In 1999, when Tan­credo was a fresh­man, only 19 Re­pub­lic­ans had a more con­ser­vat­ive com­pos­ite score, and he had a per­fect con­ser­vat­ive rat­ing on eco­nom­ic is­sues.

But in 2003, his scores moved markedly to­ward the cen­ter in each of the three cat­egor­ies; his com­pos­ite score was close to the House’s cen­ter. That year, Tan­credo was one of what NJ called the “mav­er­ick con­ser­vat­ives,” a shift­ing group of about 15 House Re­pub­lic­ans who bucked GOP lead­ers and op­posed ma­jor le­gis­la­tion that they viewed as in­suf­fi­ciently con­ser­vat­ive. Ex­amples in­cluded that year’s bill to provide Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age to seni­ors and the costly om­ni­bus ap­pro­pri­ations meas­ure; Tan­credo op­posed those bills, ef­fect­ively align­ing with most Demo­crats and the lib­er­al po­s­i­tion.

In 2004, when the House GOP’s le­gis­lat­ive agenda had few hot-but­ton meas­ures, Tan­credo’s vote rat­ings re­turned to the more con­ser­vat­ive zone. But in the past two years he moved left again. In 2005, his scores on eco­nom­ic and for­eign policy were with­in a few points of the House’s cen­ter. And he had a sim­il­ar for­eign score in 2006, demon­strat­ing oc­ca­sion­al isol­a­tion­ism on the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­ter­ven­tion­ist for­eign policy. As the House GOP’s agenda moved Tan­credo’s way last year on his sig­na­ture is­sue of a re­strict­ive im­mig­ra­tion policy, his score on so­cial is­sues was more in sync with those of oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans.

Paul: As a self-styled liber­tari­an (he was the Liber­tari­an Party can­did­ate for pres­id­ent in 1988), Paul has be­come a lead­er of the Re­pub­lic­ans who are will­ing to chal­lenge what they see as their party’s ex­cess­ive spend­ing and reg­u­la­tion. His vot­ing re­cord can be char­ac­ter­ized as a more ex­treme ver­sion of “mav­er­ick con­ser­vat­ism.” He has be­come so will­ing to shun Re­pub­lic­an policies that his vot­ing re­cord in­creas­ingly re­sembles that of a main­stream Demo­crat.

In re­cent years, Paul’s com­pos­ite score has grown more lib­er­al, es­pe­cially as his for­eign-policy votes have in­creas­ingly demon­strated his hands-off ap­proach to in­ter­na­tion­al is­sues. In 2006, for ex­ample, he op­posed funds for drug in­ter­dic­tion in Colom­bia, U.S. in­tel­li­gence activ­it­ies, mis­sile de­fense sys­tems, some for­eign aid, and the war in Ir­aq. For now, it seems un­likely that Paul will be­come a ser­i­ous con­tender for the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion. If he does, he will prob­ably have to ex­plain many of his House votes.

 

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"One of the most prominent members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election will soon leave the office and the Justice Department, two sources close to the matter tell NPR. Andrew Weissmann, the architect of the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, will study and teach at New York University and work on a variety of public service projects, including his longstanding interest in preventing wrongful convictions by shoring up forensic science standards used in courts, the sources added. The departure is the strongest sign yet that Mueller and his team have all but concluded their work."

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