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November 14, 2017

On Monday, the House passed a resolution declaring U.S. support for a Saudi-led military operation in Yemen outside the scope of congressional authorization to fight al Qaeda and allied groups. The nonbinding measure passed with broad bipartisan support, 366 to 30. It does not call for the Trump administration to cease supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen, where an air campaign against Iran-allied Houthis had killed thousands of civilians and contributed to a growing humanitarian disaster, but it publicly acknowledges America's role.

"To date, Congress has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to the Authorization of Use of Military Force," the resolution states, either the 2001 version or the 2003 version for the Iraq War. "What our military is not authorized to do is assist the Saudi Arabian regime in fighting the Houthis," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), co-sponsor of the resolution with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), said on the House floor. "In many cases, the Saudis have aligned with al Qaeda to fight the Houthis, undermining our very counterterrorism operations."

Khanna has been urging Congress to step up its oversight of America's military operations, arguing that the Yemen conflict requires specific congressional authorization under the War Powers Act. Some Republicans disagree with that contention, and House GOP leaders agreed to a vote after watering down the measure. "I don't believe our security cooperation with the Saudis triggers War Powers," said House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). "But just because it does not arise under that particular statute, does not make it immune from our scrutiny." The Senate has no corresponding legislation, Politico notes. Peter Weber

12:55 a.m.

With Nick Ayers unexpectedly taking himself out of the running to be President Trump's next chief of staff, Trump "finds himself in the unaccustomed position of having no obvious second option," The New York Times reports. Several names are being floated to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly, including White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and former Trump campaign official David Bossie.

But unusually, it's not clear who's even interested in the job. Meadows, a far-right Trump loyalist, wants the position but Trump isn't sure, Politico reports, and Mnuchin "isn't eager to take the post." Mulvaney also is "not interested in becoming chief of staff," The Associated Press reports, and The Washington Post says the White House is reluctant to move Lighthizer because of his key role in trade negotiations with China.

White House chief of staff has traditionally been a stepping stone to greater power, but Trump's first two chiefs of staff, "Kelly and Reince Priebus before him, have left as diminished and arguably humiliated figures, unable to control the wild chaos of this president's White House," Politico notes. "Priebus was marginalized and mocked before he was abandoned on an airport tarmac," and "Trump had recently stopped speaking to Kelly," who "wasn't even allowed to announce his own resignation despite a reported agreement with Trump that he could do so."

"You really do have to wonder why anybody would want to be Donald Trump's White House chief of staff given that so far it's been mission impossible," Chris Whipple, the author of a history of White House chiefs of staff, tells Politico. And Kelly's successor will also have to deal with a tough re-election campaign, an incoming Democratic House majoriy, and a special counsel investigation that is circling ever closer to the White House. Peter Weber

12:10 a.m.

President Trump was so confident that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, would be his next chief of staff that the White House has already drafted the announcement, The New York Times reports. Instead, on Sunday evening, Ayers confirmed that he is leaving the White House at the end of the year, around the same time as outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Ayers, 36 and the father of young triplets, reportedly agreed to be Trump's chief of staff on a short-term basis, but Trump wanted a chief of staff that would stay through the rest of his first term. Ayers will apparently head a pro-Trump super PAC from Georgia.

"For decades, the job of White House chief of staff was once among Washington's most desirable jobs — a pinnacle of access and power," Politico notes. "It's a different story under Trump. A job that was once a ticket to Washington royalty has recently become a laughing stock."

Still, advisers to Trump were "stunned by the turn of events," and "one former senior administration official called it a humiliation for Mr. Trump and his adult children, an emotion that the president tries to avoid at all costs," reports Maggie Haberman at Times. "With a head of blond hair, Mr. Ayers somewhat resembles Mr. Trump in his younger days, a fact that the president often looks for as a positive signal. The president had an unusual affinity for Mr. Ayers, telling aides who expressed concern about Mr. Ayers that he liked him."

Trump downplayed the news, tweeting Sunday night: "Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!" Peter Weber

December 9, 2018

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expressed disatisfaction on Meet the Press Sunday with President Trump's selection of William Barr to be his next attorney general.

"I'm concerned that [Barr has] been a big supporter of the Patriot Act, which lowered the standard for spying on Americans," Paul said. "And he even went so far as to say, you know, 'The Patriot Act was pretty good, but we should go much further.'"

"I'm disturbed that he's been a big fan of taking people's property, civil asset forfeiture, without a conviction," Paul continued. "Many poor people in our country have cash taken from them, and then the government says, 'Prove to us where you got the cash, and then you can get it back.' But the burden is on the individual. It's a terrible thing called civil asset forfeiture. He's a big fan of that."

Paul noted he has not yet decided how he will vote on Barr's nomination. Watch the full interview below. Talk of Barr begins around the eight-minute mark, and Paul and host Chuck Todd also discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Saudi Arabia, and more. Bonnie Kristian

December 9, 2018

China's Foreign Ministry has summoned the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to China to protest the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies.

Meng was taken into custody in Vancouver, Canada, on Dec. 1, at U.S. direction. She faces extradition to the United States, where she is accused of helping Huawei, a major electronics manufacturer, evade American sanctions on Iran.

Beijing said the arrest "severely violated the Chinese citizen's legal and legitimate rights and interests," calling it "lawless, reasonless, and ruthless, and ... extremely vicious." Canada should "release the detainee immediately and earnestly protest the person's legal and legitimate rights and interests," the statement said, "otherwise it will definitely have serious consequences, and the Canadian side will have to bear the full responsibility for it." Bonnie Kristian

December 9, 2018

What if the Trumps were black? That's the question asked in Saturday Night Live's trailer for Them Trumps, an imaginary new series from the makers of Empire.

Them Trumps has a solid concept and a strong line-up: President Darius Trump (Kenan Thompson), first lady Malika (Leslie Jones), Darius Jr. (Chris Redd), and L’evanka (Ego Nwodim). Where it struggles is length, as the black Trump can't seem to avoid arrest as easily as his white counterpart.

"Maybe I've done some dirty things. But I'm making America great again," Thompson's Trump rants. "And what these feds don't realize is that I'm the president, the most powerful man in the most respected office in the world. They can't lock me up, and even though I may be black—"

That's when the feds show up. Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian

December 9, 2018

The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Saturday evening released a transcript of former FBI Director James Comey's lengthy testimony from the day before — and President Trump, naturally, denied it all early Sunday:

Trump has long made Comey, whom he fired last year, a target of his ire. Read Comey's full testimony here. Bonnie Kristian

December 9, 2018

A major winter storm began Saturday in southeastern states, especially North and South Carolina, and is expected to bring unusually heavy snow through Monday. "Snowfall amounts in some locations will likely exceed a foot and result in several days of difficult or impossible travel, extended power outages, and downed trees," the National Weather Service warned.

Already more than 200,000 customers in the region have lost power, the bulk of them in North Carolina, and hundreds of flights were grounded Sunday. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) urged residents to stay safe indoors. "Snow may be beautiful, but it can also be treacherous, and I urge North Carolinians to take this storm seriously and get ready for it now," he said. Bonnie Kristian

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