another one bites the dust
August 28, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race on Wednesday, after she failed to qualify for the third round of debates by the Democratic National Committee's deadline.

Gillibrand, whose campaign largely focused on women and families, participated in the first two rounds of Democratic debates, but struggled to gain momentum as the qualifications ramped up. Several major polls released Wednesday showed Gillibrand with less than 1 percent support. She said she would endorse another candidate in the primary, but did not announce who.

"I think that women have a unique ability to bring people together and heal this country," Gillibrand told The New York Times, "I think a woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting." The senator recommitted to electing more women to Congress. Read more at The New York Times. The Week Staff

May 30, 2019

A seemingly bipartisan disaster aid bill has just stalled out in Congress for the third time.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a $19.1 billion bill last week, even getting support from President Trump. Yet just one voice in the House has caused the bill to crash and burn, given that Congress is still on Memorial Day recess and would need unanimous support to pass the bill before it reconvenes. Rep. John Rose (R-Tenn.) said he wanted more debate over the bill before approving it, and asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call the House back early to get it done.

The disaster aid bill has already failed twice in the past week, first with Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) complaining that it didn't include emergency spending to build Trump's border wall, and then with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) saying the same on Tuesday. Trump himself, though, told Senate Republicans that he'd let the bill pass without $4.5 billion in wall funding after it had languished in Congress for months over his demand.

The compromise bill okayed $900 million in aid for Puerto Rico after its disastrous September 2017 hurricane. It also extends $3.25 billion to repair flood and hurricane damage throughout the country, $3.17 billion to rebuild military bases, and $3.005 billion for farmers suffering crop and livestock losses, among other packages. There's still a chance it could pass once Congress returns on Monday. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 9, 2019

In one of her final acts as Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Tuesday that Claire Grady, the department's undersecretary of management and acting deputy secretary, submitted her resignation, effective Wednesday.

Under the department's rules, if the secretary leaves, the undersecretary of management becomes acting secretary. President Trump apparently didn't know this, because when he announced on Sunday that Nielsen was stepping down, he also said Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, would become acting secretary. Grady's departure now clears the path for Trump to install McAleenan.

The Department of Homeland Security is going through a tumultuous time, with Nielsen and Secret Service Director Randolph Alles both being pushed out. Several administration officials have said White House adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner, is behind the shake-up, and the purge won't end with Grady's exit — Trump is reportedly also looking at removing two U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services leaders, director Lee Cissna and policy director Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, and Homeland Security general counsel John Mitnick. Catherine Garcia

February 7, 2019

Scandals aren't just for Virginia Democrats anymore.

After a blackface photo was revealed to be on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) yearbook page, and after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) was accused of sexual assault, the state's Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted he too wore blackface in college. And now, it seems the state's top Republican, state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, was in charge of a college yearbook similarly packed with racism, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

Norment attended the Virginia Military Institute and was the managing editor of its 1968 yearbook, which was published just before VMI's first black students were allowed to enroll that fall. The Pilot didn't find any explicit racist behavior from Norment on those pages. But there are several pictures of students in blackface inside, along with at least one use of the n-word and other anti-Asian and anti-Semitic slurs. When asked about the yearbook Thursday, Norment said "the only thing I'm talking about today is the budget."

Northam also attended VMI, and a yearbook from his time at the school listed one of his nicknames as "Coonman." Northam has not addressed that nickname, but has said he is not one of men in blackface or Ku Klux Klan robes on his medical school yearbook page, and has refused calls to resign. Fairfax has said the alleged 2004 sexual assault was "consensual."

Norment isn't in line for the Virginia governorship; If Northam, Fairfax, and Herring all step aside, House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R) will become governor. Cox literally got his speaker job thanks to a coin toss, and if it turns out he did something unsavory and resigns himself, the House of Delegates will have to pick a new governor. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 6, 2019

Defense Department Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney resigned Saturday evening.

"After two years in the Pentagon, I've decided the time is right to return to the private sector," he said in a brief statement. "It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense."

This is the third major departure from the Pentagon in recent weeks, following the exits of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the United States' special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State, over President Trump's announcement of intent to withdraw from Syria. Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2018

President Trump on Twitter Saturday morning announced Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is leaving his administration by year's end:

Trump did not say whether Zinke resigned or was fired.

Zinke's tenure at Interior has been marred by allegations of unethical conduct which have reportedly troubled Trump and prompted a Justice Department investigation. His policy proposals have included privatizing campgrounds on public land, shrinking national monument land, and raising national park visitor fees to cover renovations.

This announcement comes one day after Trump said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will step in as acting White House chief of staff. A Politico report in late October indicated further turnover in the already volatile administration was likely following the midterm elections. Bonnie Kristian

November 29, 2018

Yet another of President Trump's judicial nominees has spent the last week taking the controversy test. But this time, he failed to pass.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the chamber's only black Republican, said Thursday he'd vote against the nomination of Thomas Farr to become a North Carolina federal judge. Scott joins Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to defeat the nomination of Farr, who's been accused of defending a law that slashed minority voters' rights.

As a North Carolina attorney, Farr defended what a court eventually ruled was "the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow," per The Washington Post. That led all 49 Democrats and Flake to vote against moving his nomination forward on Wednesday, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie and advance Farr's case.

Still, three Republicans who'd initially voted for Farr — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and Scott — were still considering ultimately voting against him. Scott became the first to affirm he'd block the controversial nominee with a Thursday statement.

Flake, meanwhile, has said he'd vote against every judicial nominee in a protest against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) refusal to call a vote on a bill protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He did say Thursday he'd vote against Farr regardless of the Mueller bill. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 6, 2018

Office of Personnel Management chief Jeff Pon resigned Friday after about eight months on the job, an announcement little noticed amid the furor over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

A White House statement on Pon's departure did not say why he is leaving. For now, his duties will be assumed by Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Weichert will also keep her current role.

"The broader objectives of the president's management agenda are focusing on driving and really modernizing how we think about governing and our workforce in the 21st century," Weichert said of her new responsibilities. "The president wants me to continue the work that we are doing around the president's management agenda."

Pon is the latest in a long list of administration officials to quit. Resignations and firings have accumulated at a record-setting rate in the Trump White House. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads