A State Department spokesman said Tuesday that he didn’t know much at all about two major events happening in the world today, including Saudi Arabia’s arrest of dozens of people who were looking to bomb the U.S. embassy in Riyadh.
Reports said Saudi Arabia arrested 93 people involved in the alleged plot. But spokesman Jeff Rathke had little to say about the event, and said he wasn’t aware about almost anything about it.
“We’re aware of the arrests,” he said. “We don’t have confirmation of the details.”
When asked if the U.S. participated in the operation, he said, “I don’t believe we were involved in the arrests.”
When asked if the U.S. is aware that the alleged plan was to hit the U.S. embassy with a car bomb, he said, “I don’t have any details.” When asked if it was a plot by the Islamic State, he said, “I’ll refer you to them,” a reference to Saudia Arabia.
And when asked if the U.S. is worried that the Islamic State may now have a significant toe hold in Saudi Arabia, he said, “I’m not jumping to that conclusion.” Rathke also didn’t thank Saudi Arabia for its efforts.
When asked about Iran’s Tuesday decision to divert a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, Rathke said State was “aware” of those reports, and said State is “monitoring the situation.”
He said State doesn’t believe any U.S. citizens are on boared the vessel, but said he didn’t know much else. When asked if the U.S. had any communication with Iran, he said “I’m not aware of any.”
When asked if the event took place in international waters, he said he wasn’t sure. And when asked about Iran’s motive, he said, “I don’t have any speculation about Iran’s motives.”
According to the department, its mission is “to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere. This mission is shared with the USAID, ensuring we have a common path forward in partnership as we invest in the shared security and prosperity that will ultimately better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow.”Read More »
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Senate Tuesday that he has no regrets at all for going around Congress to implement President Barack Obama’s several immigration-related executive actions.
“Do you regret the actions that you and the administration have taken that have gotten us to this point?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Johnson at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.Read More »
Sen. John Delaney (D-Md.) is planning to introduce legislation that would create a new “hostage czar” position in the federal government, in an effort to try harder to locate and recover American hostages.
Delaney’s bill is a response to the accidental killing of Warren Weinstein in January by a U.S. drone strike against an Al Qaeda compound. Weinstein lived in Delaney’s congressional district.Read More »
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday that he’s writing a bill to reform U.S. asset forfeiture laws, and hopes to prevent agencies from using seized money as a way to fund their own operations.
Grassley said asset forfeiture is a helpful tool to help law enforcement agencies fight crime. But he admitted that the tool can be misused, and has been in several high-profile cases, including one case in Iowa in which a restaurant owner had nearly $33,000 in cash seized by the IRS for a year and a half.Read More »
GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday that he doesn’t blame President Barack Obama for the death of two hostages who were killed in a U.S. drone strike, and generally defended the use of drones in wartime.
“I tend not to want to blame the president for the loss of life here,” Paul told Fox News. “I think he was trying to do the right thing.”
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More than a dozen House Republicans have reintroduced legislation that would let younger illegal immigrants brought to America by their parents obtain legal status by serving in the U.S. military.
The bill from Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) split Republicans sharply in the last Congress, when he hoped to get it included in a defense bill. GOP leaders shut down that effort, and didn’t pass much of anything dealing with immigration for fear of exposing the party’s divide on this issue.Read More »
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday that the Obama administration has apprehended about 28 percent fewer people at the southern U.S. border in the first six months of fiscal year 2015, compared to the same period in the last fiscal year.
But Johnson indicated that this drop is not because border agents aren’t trying hard enough. Instead, he said it’s because the Obama administration has boosted border security and sent out the word to Central American countries that their citizens should not try to enter the United States.Read More »
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday called on Hillary Clinton to return all donations that foreign governments made to the Clinton Foundation, amid ongoing worries that those donations influenced U.S. foreign policy when Clinton was secretary of State.
“The Clinton Foundation collected tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments including donors who had business interests with the State Department while Clinton was secretary,” Cruz said. “She made decisions in that capacity that likely benefitted the same people who were giving large donations to the foundation.”Read More »
The Justice Department on Friday posted a massive 28,000-word list of accomplishments that Attorney General Eric Holder achieved over the last six years, as part of a tribute to Holder on his last day in office.
When dumped into a word processor, it fills 46 pages — about the size of a small novella.Read More »
Senator and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has joined a House-led effort to give the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs the ability to fire any employee for cause, not just senior officials.
Last year, Congress passed legislation giving the VA secretary the authority to fire senior officials for corruption or negligence. That bill was a response to the widespread scandal in which the VA was found to be systemically denying veterans quick access to medical care, even as the VA was pretending to get veterans the care they needed.Read More »
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was already on a plane and flying back to Texas Thursday afternoon when the Senate held its final confirmation vote for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, a Cruz campaign aide told TheBlaze.
As a result, Cruz was the only senator not to vote on Lynch’s confirmation earlier in the day. The Senate approved Lynch, a candidate that Cruz has argued against for months now, in a 56-43 vote.
The Cruz aide declined to say why the senator was returning to his home state. However, a reporter from Real Clear Politics tweeted a picture of a flyer indicating that Cruz, a GOP presidential contender, had a campaign fundraiser to attend to Thursday night in Texas.
Here's why Cruz had to fly back to Texas before the final Lynch vote… pic.twitter.com/BCUt2cbkED
— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) April 23, 2015
While Cruz missed the final vote, aides to Cruz stressed that Cruz was in the Senate for the key vote on whether to end debate on Lynch’s nomination. The so-called “cloture vote” in the Senate is in fact the critical vote, since an agreement to end debate needs 60 votes, and once that happens, it’s usually a cinch to find the 51 votes needed to confirm a nominee or pass a bill.
Cruz and most other Republicans voted against ending debate, but 20 Republicans voted with Democrats and allowed Lynch to get to a final vote.
Cruz spokeswoman Amanda Carpenter said the cloture vote was the “vote that mattered,” and laid out her argument in a series of tweets soon after the vote:
If the Senate could get 60 votes for cloture, they could get 51 for final confirmation. Cloture is the only vote that mattered.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) April 23, 2015
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Lynch received 66 votes on the vote that mattered. http://t.co/W6Ne8mQVv8 If she can get to 66 she can get to 51
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) April 23, 2015
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Thursday fired off 136 questions that he said Hillary Clinton needs to answer about her use of a personal email system, just a day after Clinton’s lawyer said every question has been asked and answered already.
Gowdy’s 10-page letter to Clinton lawyer David Kendall included questions such as when Clinton decided to set up her private email server and who helped, who managed it, whether and how it was protected from hackers, and many questions about how Clinton decided to delete more than 30,000 emails.Read More »
The Congressional Research Service released a report to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that noted a sharp drop in the wages of the bottom 90 percent of tax filers starting in the 1970s, which was when the U.S. experienced a significant increase in the number of immigrants entering the country.
The findings support arguments that Republicans have been making for years now — that bringing in more immigrants will lead to a drop in wages that will hurt U.S. citizens.Read More »
The Senate voted Thursday to end debate on the nomination of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, which will allow the Senate to hold a final confirmation vote on the long-delayed nominee later this afternoon.
The Senate needed 60 votes to advance Lynch’s nomination, and got there easily — the vote to end debate was 66-34. Twenty Republicans voted with Democrats in the procedural vote to end debate.Read More »
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday sharply criticized a Wall Street Journal op-ed for claiming that Republicans “beat Harry Reid” in their battle to pass an anti-human trafficking bill.
“A major newspaper in this country has the audacity to say the GOP, the Republicans, used its advice and consent power to beat Harry Reid,” Reid groused on the Senate floor.Read More »
House lawmakers took a stab Wednesday at encouraging companies to share the information they have on possible cybersecurity threats with each other and with the government, a move that privacy advocates worry might give the government access to personal information.
The House passed the Protecting Cyber Networks Act in an easy 307-116 vote — most of the “no” votes came from Democrats, and only 37 Republicans voted against it.Read More »
The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved an appropriations bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs that would cap VA performance bonuses at $300 million a year, a $60 million cut compared to the current cap.
Additionally, some House members are already considering ways to trim VA performance bonuses even more when the appropriations bill hits the House floor in the coming weeks.Read More »
A State Department official told Congress Wednesday that the department is under an almost constant threat of cyber attacks, and said its computer systems have already been breached before.
“We are attacked every day, thousands of times a day,” Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom said in response to a question from Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “I can tell you, senator, that we have been breached, as has been reported.”
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The Obama administration’s Justice Department announced a settlement agreement on Earth Day that will see oil giant ExxonMobil pay more than $4 million in penalties for “alleged violations” of the Clean Water Act that resulted from a 2013 oil spill in Arkansas.
Under the agreement, ExxonMobil will pay $3.19 million in federal civil penalties, $1 million in state penalties, and smaller amounts to improve water quality in Arkansas and pay legal fees for the Arkansas Attorney General. The total settlement agreement amounts to a bit more than $5 million.Read More »