House of Representatives

Making Trumpism the New Normal

Time profiles Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): “It’s easy to write Gaetz off as nothing more than a troll, someone who provokes for provocation’s sake. But to do so is to ignore both his policy interests (he’s sponsored 15 bills this term) and the skill with which he reads the Republican electorate. His audience is the demographic of Americans whose politics are less dogma than reflex: a reaction to the perceived sanctimony of a progressive cultural climate that treats conservatism as a punch line and scolds those who fail to use the correct gender pronouns.”

Said Gaetz: “The convention that one should never be perceived to troll another that has a different viewpoint is a very country club approach to politics. And we’re sort of in the era of Caddyshack. The caddies have taken over the country club.”

Lawmaker Got Girlfriend’s Son Out of Heroin Bust

Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) “has been accused of using his official position to get his baby mama’s son out of a heroin arrest on Staten Island,” the New York Post reports.

“Donovan, a former district attorney who now represents Staten Island and part of South Brooklyn, stepped in after his domestic partner’s son was arrested with a friend for ‘criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance (heroin),’ according to an allegation filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics last week.”

A Maverick from Trump Country

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) “has cemented his image as a rising star — one with an unusually independent reputation in today’s Republican Party,” McClatchy reports.

“In an era of intense political tribalism, Gallagher is the rare House member from a strongly pro-Trump district who has broken sharply with the White House over a range of issues, including the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey and the Russia-related investigations. Even more rare: he has done it—so far—without sparking crippling conservative backlash.”

“Republican donors and operatives see the freshman workaholic as the next sterling-credentialed member with a maverick streak who could shape the future of their deeply divided party—if he can outlast the turbulence and tribalism of the moment.”

Congresswoman Kept Top Staffer After Learning of Threats

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) reportedly kept her chief of staff employed in her office for three months after she learned that he had allegedly threatened a former Esty staffer whom he had dated, the Washington Post reports.

Said Tony Baker, in a voicemail message to Anna Kain: “You better fucking reply to me or I wil fucking kill you.”

Scalise Admits He’d Like to Be Speaker

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) admitted to Politico “his desire to lead the conference someday but said now isn’t the time to discuss it.”

Said Scalise: “I wouldn’t rule it out. Obviously, I’ve shown interest in the past at moving up. I’ve enjoyed being in leadership. I feel like I’ve had a strong influence on some of the things that we’ve done, and I’ve helped put together coalitions to pass a full repeal of Obamacare.”

Playbook: “Scalise’s interest in the speakership is now public. So, whether he meant it or not, there is now an alternative to Kevin McCarthy. If you’re a member who wants Scalise as speaker — or doesn’t want Kevin — you now know a vote against McCarthy could get you the Louisiana Republican.”

Speaker’s Office Denies Rumor He’s Resigning

“A backbench Republican sparked the latest round of speculation Monday about Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s future by suggesting other GOP lawmakers were bracing for the Wisconsin Republican to resign from office this spring. The suggestion, offered as ‘rumor mill’ by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), drew an immediate dismissal from Ryan’s office,” the Washington Post reports.

Said a spokesperson: “The speaker is not resigning.”

Farenthold May Resign from Congress

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) “is considering stepping down from Congress before the end of his term,” Politico reports.

“Farenthold already announced he would not seek re-election in his southeastern Texas district, after Politico reported he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with $84,000 in taxpayer funds. But he now is on the brink of leaving Congress well before the end of his term, which would allow him to dodge an Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of inappropriate office behavior.”

Ryan Says Trump Won’t Fire Mueller

Speaker Paul Ryan said he has received “assurances” that Robert Mueller won’t be fired, as questions swirl around whether President Trump will pull the plug on the special counsel, The Hill reports.

Said Ryan: “I received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration. We have a system based upon the rule of law in this country, we have a justice system, and no one is above that justice system.”

Pelosi In Peril?

Mike Allen: “Top Democrats tell me that if they take back the House in November, a restoration of Speaker Nancy Pelosi is no longer guaranteed.”

“In fact, some well-wired House Democrats predict she will be forced aside after the election and replaced by a younger, less divisive Dem…. Pelosi has hung in through the minority, and remains the party’s most consistent fundraiser. As for whether she’ll return as Speaker, she has just said that it’s up to the members. (Her allies note that she has never lost a leadership vote.)”

Playbook: “Nancy Pelosi has thick skin. She would love nothing more than for Democrats to win back the House majority. If people dump on her en route to the majority, fine.”

House Russia Probe Dissolves Into Fight Over Transcripts

Bloomberg: “Now that Republicans have terminated the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, the biggest outstanding question is whether the public will ever see transcripts from dozens of its closed-door witnesses.”

“Republicans on the Intelligence panel are reversing their earlier plans to release those transcripts, while Democrats say they plan to attach the documents to their final report.”