Chances are, Tuesday night is as close as Ernest Moniz will ever get to the presidency.
Moniz, the current Energy secretary, was the administration’s “designated survivor” — the Cabinet member assigned to hide in an undisclosed location in case, heaven forbid, the worst were to occur while Congress and the rest of the administration assembled for the State of the Union address.
But what would the Moniz administration have looked like?
For one, it would have been the first captained by a physicist: Prior to joining the Obama administration in 2013, Moniz was a professor of physics and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a Stanford University doctorate in theoretical physics. And if past is prologue, Moniz wouldn’t shy away from talking science.
His latest post on the Energy Department blog is titled “Wide Bandgap Semiconductors: Essential to Our Technology Future.” Those looking for lighter fare can refer to his earlier work: “New Steps to Strengthen Our Energy Infrastructure.”
Moniz is not a politician, but he’s not a novice to governing either. He served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary during the second half of President Clinton’s tenure. And in his policy, he’s been the type of compromiser who makes just about everybody mad: Environmental groups have been wary of his embrace of natural gas, while he probably didn’t endear himself to the Right by declaring that he’s “not interested in debating what is not debatable” when it comes to human-induced climate change.
More than anything else, however, Moniz has drawn attention for his hair, which is a mix of President Washington, Back to the Future‘s Doc Brown, and Javier Bardem’s serial-killing character in No Country for Old Men.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.