January 22, 2019

In an affidavit filed as part of her divorce proceedings, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said that in July 2016, she was interviewed to be then-candidate Donald Trump's vice president, but turned down his offer because it "wasn't the right thing for me or my family."

Last August, Ernst announced she was divorcing her husband of 26 years, Gail Ernst. Their divorce was finalized this month, and under Iowa law, the court records were automatically made public. In the affidavit, which was submitted in October, Ernst said her former husband was not only verbally and mentally abusive, but also physically assaulted her when she confronted him about his relationship with their daughter's babysitter, The Des Moines Register reports.

Gail Ernst was "very cruel," the senator said, and often belittled her and didn't want to see her succeed. When describing how she turned down the offer to be vice president, she said she "continued to make sacrifices and not soar out of concern for Gail and our family." Ernst is the first woman elected in Iowa to represent the state in Congress, and has said she'll run for a second term in 2020. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) announced on Tuesday she will not challenge Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the role of speaker of the House and is offering her endorsement.

"I now join my colleagues in support of the leadership team of Pelosi, [Rep. Steny] Hoyer, and [Rep. James] Clyburn," she said in a statement. Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn are the three highest-ranking Democrats.

Fudge said she was concerned about "voter protection and voter integrity," and the Democratic Party "should reflect the diversity of our changing nation and guarantee all our citizens the unfettered right to vote and to have every vote count." Pelosi, she said, has "assured me that the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic Party, black women, will have a seat at the decision-making table" and "protections of the Voting Rights Act will be reinstated and improved."

Last week, 16 Democrats signed a letter saying they will oppose Pelosi for speaker. So far, no challengers have emerged, with House Democrats set to vote to select a nominee next week. Catherine Garcia

October 28, 2018

Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer on Sunday condemned a now-deleted tweet by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which he believes was probably anti-Semitic.

On Tuesday, McCarthy posted a tweet targeting Steyer and two other wealthy Jewish donors to liberal causes: George Soros and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election!" McCarthy tweeted. "Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA." McCarthy deleted the tweet on Wednesday.

Last week, explosive devices were mailed to both Soros and Steyer, and on Saturday, 11 people were killed by a gunman inside their Pittsburgh synagogue. Steyer told CNN that McCarthy's tweet "seems, to me, like a straight-up anti-Semitic move." It was a "classic attempt to separate Americans," he added. "I think that absolutely falls into the category of what I'm describing as political violence." McCarthy's office said he is against violence, and the tweet "simply points out the enormous financial contributions a select few have made in this year's midterm campaigns."

Steyer said he does not blame Trump for Saturday's shooting, "but I'm absolutely associating and blaming him for creating the atmosphere that exists." In response, Trump tweeted that Steyer was "Wacky" and "a crazed & stumbling lunatic." Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2018

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp won the GOP runoff for governor Tuesday night, defeating Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Cagle, endorsed by the NRA, raised more money than Kemp, but was hurt by the release of a secret recording where he's heard saying he helped pass a "bad public policy" bill because it would score political points, CBS News reports. Kemp calls himself an "unapologetic conservative," and ran an advertisement where he promised to hop in his pickup truck and "round up criminal illegals."

In addition to an endorsement from President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence came down to campaign for Kemp this month. Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in the November election. Catherine Garcia

June 21, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Thursday evening that House Republicans are postponing until next week a vote on a so-called compromise immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young immigrants and fund President Trump's border wall.

This was the second time GOP leadership decided to delay the vote; they were supposed to vote on their proposal Thursday, then Friday. Leaders did not have the 218 votes needed to pass the measure, and were pressured to postpone the vote by conservatives already opposed to the legislation, Politico reports. Catherine Garcia

June 18, 2018

In passing the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday evening, the Senate voted to reimpose the ban on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

The Senate approved the defense spending bill by a vote of 85-10, and it must still be reconciled with the House version. U.S. lawmakers consider ZTE a national security threat and are concerned that its equipment could be used to spy on the U.S. and carry out cyberattacks. In April, the Commerce Department enacted a seven-year ban on American companies doing business with ZTE, but President Trump in May tweeted that he was working to keep ZTE afloat because "too many jobs in China" were being lost.

A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act would prohibit the U.S. government from buying or subsidizing equipment from ZTE and another Chinese telecom company, Huawei, among other penalties. Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is blasting the White House for its decision to let Emmet Flood, President Trump's attorney working on the Russia investigation, attend two classified briefings on Thursday with Justice Department officials.

"Emmet Flood's presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate," Schiff said. A Republican-only meeting, attended by House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), was held Thursday morning to discuss information related to an FBI informant who in 2016 talked to Trump campaign advisers linked to Russia. The White House said Flood and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke at the beginning of the meeting to "relay the president's desire for as much openness as possible," and left before it started.

After this meeting took place, Justice Department officials briefed the bipartisan congressional leaders who make up the "Gang of Eight," including Schiff, and Flood attended that meeting, too. Schiff told reporters that "nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures or protocols." Catherine Garcia

May 22, 2018

Stacey Abrams won Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, defeating former state Rep. Stacey Evans.

Both women are attorneys in the Atlanta area. Abrams, a former Georgia state House minority leader, is the first female nominee for governor in Georgia from either major party, The Associated Press reports. If she wins in November's general election, she will become the first black female governor in the United States.

On the Republican side, five men are running in the primary, and unless one of them receives more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two on July 24. The candidates are Lt. Gov Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, state Sen. Michael Williams, and Clay Tippins. Catherine Garcia

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