Aug 3, 2017

Bipartisan senators to introduce bill to protect Mueller

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Two bipartisan senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee — Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons — plan to introduce a bill today designed to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from interference as his Russia probe continues, per CBS News.

What the bill would do: It would take the decision to fire a special counsel out of the hands of the president, granting the authority only to the most senior Department of Justice official heading the investigation. Additionally, it would allow a fired special counsel to challenge their removal in front of a panel of federal judges — with a guarantee that the case would be heard within two weeks.

Why it matters: The move shows that protecting the integrity of the government's Russia investigation is a rare issue that manages to bridge partisan divides in Washington. Additionally, it indicates the respect for Mueller on both sides of the aisle.

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Trump's clemency spree

Rod Blagojevich in 2010. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump announced Tuesday that he commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption — as well as issuing full pardons for former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's improbable moonshot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.

Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Science

Justice Department says U.S. attorneys are reviewing Ukraine information

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) Tuesday informing him that the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania are reviewing "unsolicited" information from the public related to matters involving Ukraine.

Why it matters: Nadler had requested an explanation for the "intake process" that Attorney General Bill Barr stated had been set up in order to receive information that Rudy Giuliani had obtained about the Bidens in Ukraine.