We’re wrapping up for now. To recap today’s developments:
- Former President George HW Bush was mourned at a second funeral service in Houston. His casket was put aboard a train, dubbed train 4141, and carried to College Station, Texas where he’ll be buried.
- The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party says he’s open to a new election if allegations of absentee ballot fraud in the state’s ninth Congressional district prove true.
- William Barr, a US attorney general under George HW Bush, is Donald Trump’s top pick to be his next AG, according to a Washington Post report.
- An undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who works at Trump’s New Jersey golf club spoke out in an interview with the New York Times, saying a number of undocumented immigrants work at the club with the apparent knowledge of supervisors.
Democrats have now officially won 40 House seats, after a Republican California Congressman who was at first wrongly believed to have won conceded defeat.
Rep. David Valadao conceded to challenger TJ Cox Thursday in the state’s 21st district, according to the Bakersfield Californian.
The Associated Press had called the race for Valadao, but retracted the call as more votes were counted and broke in the Democrat’s favor.
“Representing the Central Valley in Congress has been the honor of a lifetime,” Valadao said after calling Cox to congratulate him.
The train carrying the casket of George HW Bush, dubbed train 4141, is pulling into College Station, Texas.
Bush will be buried there, near the George HW Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A&M University, next to his wife Barbara and daughter Robin.
His immediate family members are aboard the train with the casket and will accompany the casket to a private burial.
Billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer has come out in opposition to Sen. Joe Manchin becoming the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“Democrats must offer a bold, positive path forward — but Senator Manchin does not offer that vision and should not be the Democratic leader on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,” Steyer said, the Washington Post reported. “Senate Democrats owe it to their constituents to tell the truth, acknowledge the urgent climate crisis we’re in, and do what’s right — instead of what’s politically expedient for them.”
Another potential 2020 contender, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, launched a petition to block Manchin and he is opposed by many liberal activists because of his conservative environmental views, though Democrats in the Senate appear unmoved.
The Boston Globe editorial board, which urged Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016, suggests she skip it in 2020.
“Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020,” the Globe writes, noting the state’s Republican governor Charlie Baker got more votes than she did for re-election this year.
“Those are warning signs from the voters who know her best. While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure. A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, also a Democrat, announced Thursday he will not run.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has launched a push to block Sen. Joe Manchin form becoming the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but Politico reports today that Senate Democrats appear to be sticking with him for the post.
Opposition to Manchin stems from his friendliness to the coal industry and opposition to aggressive measures to combat climate change.
But Senate colleagues told Politico they’re comfortable with him inheriting the position, which goes to the most senior Democrat on the panel. “He’s part of a team when it comes to issues of climate change, issues of the environment,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. “I have a lot of confidence I can work with him to fight for a far more aggressive agenda for dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming.”
“Joe and I don’t see on eye-to-eye on a lot of issues, but he’s a really important member of our caucus. He wouldn’t be the only leader on issues of climate,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy. “On climate, we’re going to make decisions collectively as a caucus. Nobody in our caucus has a veto over climate policy — whether they’re a ranking member on a committee or not.”
The Trump administration has asked for another $190 million to run immigrant detention centers, according to Rep. Rosa DeLauro.
“The White House has had the audacity to ask Congress for more money,” the Connecticut Democrat said Thursday, the Hill reported. “Over my dead body will we provide another nickel for these folks to do what they’re doing.”
When Democrats take control of the House next month, DeLauro is set to become chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of money for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees detention of immigrant children.
The Supreme Court appeared unlikely at arguments today to broaden the Constitution’s protections against double jeopardy.
The case is closely watched because of its implications for the Trump-Russia probe. The court is being asked to prohibit the federal governments and state prosecutors from charging someone for the same crime. If they did so, that could shield Trump associates pardoned by the president from state charges.
But justices did not seem inclined to make such a move based on their questioning, according to NBC News.
“This is a 170-year-old rule that close to 30 justices have voted for,” said Justice Elena Kagan. “You’re asking us to throw it out because we think we can do better?”
On the other side of the political spectrum, Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh also appeared skeptical, saying that changing the rule would block the U.S. government from prosecuting someone who attacked Americans on foreign soil and was let off with a light sentence by a foreign government.
Incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger warned the North Carolina Republican party about possible fraud after he lost his primary earlier this year, the Washington Post reports.
Speaking to supporters, Pittenger blamed the “ballot stuffers in Bladen” for his loss to Mark Harris.
Harris, had won 437 absentee mail-in votes in Bladen county, to just 17 for Pittenger.
Aides told the executive director and a regional political director of the state GOP that they suspected fraud but were brushed off, according to the Post.
Possible absentee ballot fraud in Bladen by an operative working for Harris has now thrown the Congressional race in the state’s 9th district into turmoil, leaving the possibility that a new election may be ordered.
Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not pleased with the contents of Congressional orientation sessions.
Another incoming freshman, Rashida Tlaib, echoed that view. She said that former Trump economic adviser and Goldman Sachs CEO Gary Cohn had told the group, “You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played.”
Senator Bob Corker called it “un-American” for the White House to refuse to condemn Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, per CNN.
Just one Republican, state senator Robert Cowles, voted against the Wisconsin legislature’s move to strip power away from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.
“I believe that these changes will have unforeseen impacts on businesses, property owners, outdoorsmen and women, and voters throughout Wisconsin,” Cowles said on Thursday in explaining his vote, according to the Huffington Post.
The Senate has confirmed Kathy Kraninger to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a 50-49 party line vote.
Kraninger, who has worked at the White House Office of Management and Budget, was approved for a five-year term as director, NPR reported.
Democrats objected to the nomination on the grounds that she has no experience with regulation of the financial industry. They also accused her of playing a key role in the federal government’s neglect of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and the policy of separating immigrant children from their families.
Undocumented workers speak out
Victorina Morales, the undocumented Guatemalan immigrant who works at Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club, provides a host of details that suggest managers there knew she was not authorized to live in the country and employed her anyway.
The housekeeper, who entered the country illegally almost 20 years ago, was hired at the club in 2013, she told the New York Times in an interview. She said an employee of the course drives her and a group of others to work every day because it is known they can’t get driver’s licenses because of their immigration status.
When she was hired, Morales said she told a supervisor she didn’t have “good papers.” The manager said she should bring the documents she used at a previous job, and she brought a fake green card and social security card.
Last year, a supervisor told her she had to get a new social security and green card since there were problems with the one she had on file. According to Morales, she said she didn’t know where to get the documents, and the manager referred her to a maintenance worker who took her to get a new set of forged papers.
Another worker, Sandra Diaz, told the Times she was undocumented while working at the club for several years. She has since left the job and gained legal status.
Diaz was assigned to clean Trump’s personal residence at the Bedminster club, where she washed Trump’s clothes. She recalled he had an outburst over orange stains on the collar of a white golf shirt, which she said were stains from his makeup that she was unable to get out.
Morales said she knew she could lose her job or get deported for speaking out, but chose to come forward because she was upset by Trump’s disparaging comments about immigrants and abusive treatment by a supervisor that she felt was encouraged by Trump’s rhetoric.
“I ask myself, is it possible that this señor thinks we have papers? He knows we don’t speak English,” she said. “Why wouldn’t he figure it out?”
An undocumented woman who has worked for more than five years as a housekeeper at Donald Trump’s Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, speaks out in an interview with the New York Times.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said today she is not open to approving funding for a border wall in exchange for protections for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, per Bloomberg.
William Barr is the leading candidate to become Donald Trump’s next attorney general, the Washington Post reports.
Barr served as attorney general under the George HW Bush administration.
The decision is not final. Trump has filled the job, temporarily and controversially, with Matthew Whitaker after pushing out Jeff Sessions.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she is open to the idea of imposing term limits on committee chairs.
“That is a matter before the caucus,” Pelosi said when asked about reports she was warming to the idea of term limits, according to the Washington Times. “I have always been sympathetic to the concerns expressed by our members on that subject.”
Many newly-elected Democrats have expressed support for term limits but they are opposed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Senate has confirmed a controversial Donald Trump pick for an energy agency.
The Senate voted 50 to 49 to approve Bernard McNamee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Hill reported.
Democrats opposed the pick because he has been a vocal defender of fossil fuels, opponent of renewable energy, and does not accept the science of climate change.
“He has lied about how the renewable energies impact the electric grid. He has called support for clean energy ‘organized propaganda,’ and pitched the debate between fossil fuels and renewables in his words as a clash between liberty and tyranny,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday before the vote, according to the Hill.