Attorney General Eric Holder praised Friday's unanimous vote by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce the sentences of 46,000 inmates currently serving time for drug offenses.
"This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system," Holder said in a statement reported by the Los Angeles Times.
While Holder chose to back the commission's decision, he had formerly been critical of the scope of the possible sentence reductions. The attorney general, along with a number of prosecutors and other Justice Department officials, had supported a narrower approach that would in theory weed out drug traffickers who were poor candidates for early release. As is, the decision will not go into effect for a year, which the Justice Department says will give judges time to review each candidate and ensure their early release does not pose a threat to public safety.
Congress could still block the decision, although it must do so by November 1, and the plan has received support from both sides of the aisle. Sarah Eberspacher
Republican Debbie Lesko won a special election in Arizona's 8th congressional district on Tuesday, a race that was closer than expected in this conservative area.
When the race was called by The Associated Press, Lesko had 53 percent of the vote, compared to Democrat Hiral Tipirneni's 47 percent. The seat was vacated by former Rep. Trent Franks (R), who resigned last year in the midst of a sexual impropriety scandal.
Lesko winning with a single-digit margin is worrisome, GOP pollster Mike Noble told Politico. "This district isn't supposed to be competitive, and so to see this margin, especially with the Republicans pouring in resources here — again, it's a tough year." Republican groups plowed more than $1 million into the race, a boost that came after Democrats won several other special elections across the country, including Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama and Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania. Catherine Garcia
Democrat Steve Stern is the winner in New York's 10th Assembly district's special election on Tuesday, flipping a state legislative seat that had been held by Republicans for more than 30 years.
The district, on Long Island, gave Hillary Clinton 52 percent of its vote in 2016 and handed 51 percent to former President Barack Obama in 2012. This is the 40th legislative flip since President Trump's inauguration, The Daily Beast reports. Catherine Garcia
He just came right out and said it — on Tuesday, in front of 1,300 bankers and lobbyists at the American Bankers Association conference. Mick Mulvaney, head of the White House Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, let the financial lobbyists know that if they want lawmakers to vote in their favor, they had better make some campaign donations, The New York Times reports.
Before joining the Trump administration, Mulvaney used to be a Republican congressman from South Carolina. During his speech at the conference in Washington, Mulvaney shared that there was a "hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you."
Mulvaney and banks are both critical of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created in 2010 in order to keep banks from exploiting vulnerable consumers. He has asked Congress to pull funding of the independent watchdog group from the Federal Reserve, and told the audience on Tuesday that he needs their help to make this happen, and that's where their donations come into play. Since becoming acting interim director, Mulvaney has frozen new investigations and slowed down existing ones, the Times reports, and he's curtailed efforts to go after payday lenders — an industry that donated to his congressional campaigns — and other financial services companies that prey on the poor.
Mulvaney was just "making the point that hearing from people back home is vital to our democratic process and the most important thing our representatives can do," spokesman John Czwartacki told the Times. "It's more important than lobbyists and it's more important than money." Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Bates rejected the Department of Homeland Security's legal reasoning for President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In his opinion, Bates, a Republican appointee to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., said the Homeland Security Department "failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful." He gave the department three months to come up with a better reason for ending the program, and said if they couldn't do this, DACA would be restored. Bates said he found one argument, that conservative state attorneys general planned on suing to end DACA, "so implausible that it fails even under the deferential arbitrary and capricious standard."
In September, Trump announced he would wind down DACA by March 5, but the order has been challenged in court several times, and Bates is the third judge to rule against the administration. DACA, created by former President Barack Obama, protects certain undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and makes them eligible for work permits. Catherine Garcia
During a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday afternoon, President Trump told White House physician Ronny Jackson, his nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, that he will continue to support him, two senior administration officials told CBS News.
Jackson is under fire, accused of drinking on the job, improperly dispensing drugs, and creating a hostile work environment, and his confirmation hearing has been postponed. Jackson has said he wants to share his side of the story, but the White House cannot force the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing.
Earlier Tuesday, when asked about whether Jackson will pull his name from consideration, Trump told reporters he let the doctor know "if I were him, I wouldn't" go through the vetting process. Catherine Garcia
Rapper Meek Mill was released from prison on Tuesday, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court directed a judge to set him free immediately on unsecured bail.
Mill, whose real name is Robert Williams, was sentenced in November to two to four years in prison for violating probation stemming from a 2009 gun and drugs case. Mill was arrested in St. Louis, after allegedly getting into an altercation at the airport, and also in New York City, accused of recklessly driving a dirt bike. The prosecutor recommended not sending Mill to prison, but the judge disagreed.
The 30-year-old rapper had a variety of public advocates, from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to comedian Kevin Hart. On Twitter, Mill said he plans to "work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction," and will use his platform to "shine a light" on the issue of people of color being unfairly sent to prison. Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed a rule that would restrict the scientific research used by the agency to make regulatory decisions.
Under the proposed rule, only studies where the data is publicly available could be used, something conservatives have long wanted. "The science that we use is going to be transparent," Pruitt said. "It's going to be reproducible." Scientists and public health experts are concerned because long-standing studies on pollution and pesticides often rely on confidential personal and medical data, and they'll likely struggle to find participants if they know their information will be made public.
"The best studies follow individuals under time, so that you can control all the factors except for the ones you're measuring," former EPA head Gina McCarthy told The Washington Post. "But it means following people's personal history, their medical history. And nobody would want somebody to expose all of their private information." There will be a 30-day comment period, and if the rule goes through, it's expected to be challenged in court. Catherine Garcia