Sep 18, 2019

Scoop: Trump expected to formally nominate Peter Gaynor as FEMA chief

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Getty Images

President Trump intends to tap deputy FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor as the agency's permanent director, 2 sources familiar with Trump's decision tell Axios.

Why it matters: The administration has been operating without a confirmed FEMA chief during an active hurricane season after the nomination of Jeffrey Byard stalled in the Senate.

The state of play: Byard's nomination had not been withdrawn as of Wednesday evening, per one administration official.

  • But Trump has already made a decision to move forward with Gaynor, according to sources both inside and outside of the administration.
  • Gaynor has served as the agency's acting administrator while Byard's nomination stalled in the Senate. The president was impressed with the way Gaynor handled Hurricane Dorian.

The backstory: Trump nominated Byard — the associate administrator for FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery — to lead the agency in February after former FEMA administrator Brock Long resigned amid an investigation into his personal use of government vehicles.

  • Byard's nomination went through the Senate Homeland Security Committee (HSGAC) in June, but issues regarding a personal conflict later arose and have continued to hold up his nomination.
  • Politico first reported that the White House was considering pulling Byard's nomination.

Worth noting: The nature of Byard's "personal issue," as several sources familiar describe it, is still unclear. Only a select few people — including Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson and a small circle of administration officials — actually know.

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Beto O'Rourke "cannot fathom" running for public office if he's not 2020 nominee

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke told Politico that he "cannot fathom" a situation where he would run for public office again if he doesn't win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Why it matters: O'Rourke has long faced pressure from Democratic activists to abandon his low-polling presidential bid — which has seen diminishing fundraising in 2019 — and run for Senate in his home state of Texas. It's worth noting that he similarly ruled out a presidential bid last year, unequivocally telling CBS' "60 Minutes" that he wouldn't be in the 2020 race.

Go deeper: Beto O'Rourke's 2020 relaunch still targets Trump instead of Senate

Keep ReadingArrowOct 15, 2019

Top GOP senators ask DOJ to investigate Clinton and Ukraine

Sen. Chuck Grassley. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) asked the Justice Department Monday to look into links between the Ukrainian government and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

The state of play: As President Trump is facing an impeachment threat over his own Ukraine controversy, Senate Republicans are attempting to turn the tables on Democrats in order to change the narrative.

Go deeperArrowSep 30, 2019

State Department watchdog requests "urgent" Congress meeting on Ukraine

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick has requested to meet Wednesday with a number of Senate and House committees "to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine," according to a letter first reported by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The details of the "urgent" briefing are unknown, but the news follows an escalating war of words between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and key House committees investigating President Trump's alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019