Essential Politics: That famous political question again grips Washington

It’s impossible to count how many times some version of the question has been asked in the midst of a political scandal. But its origins are clear: the Watergate hearings of 1973.

This week, the question could be asked of a lot of people in the White House — and not just the president — over serious allegations about a former staff member’s past behavior.

THE PORTER PROBLEM

Testimony on Tuesday presented perhaps the most troubling evidence of a serious discrepancy in the White House’s explanation for when officials knew about the domestic violence allegations against former top staffer Rob Porter.

Wray’s account is sure to add to the controversy over the decision by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and others to defend Porter after Britain’s Daily Mail first reported two ex-wives’ accounts a week ago.

IMMIGRATION REFORM THROUGH PUBLIC DEBATE?

“Now it is time to back up this talk with the hard work of finding a workable solution,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Monday. “I hope this body can seize this opportunity and deliver real progress.”

There were speeches on Tuesday but no action, and a number of proposals floated for consideration.

“The purpose here is not to make a point,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday. “The purpose is to get something done.”

Speaking of Dreamers, there was news on the fate of Dreamers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Tuesday. A federal judge ruled the Trump administration didn’t offer “legally adequate reasons” for ending DACA.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING (AGAIN)

The president may not like talking about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, but his top national security advisors aren’t mincing words about what they expect in 2018.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

— The stock market’s volatility puts new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a bind: If they calm investors by signaling a slowdown of interest rate hikes, it could backfire and push the economy into recession.

A BOOST FOR DE LEÓN

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

–Despite being on a leave of absence pending a sexual harassment investigation, state Sen. Tony Mendoza introduced 15 pieces of legislation this week. A Senate representative said the Los Angeles County Democrat’s office is allowed to continue operating in his absence.

LOGISTICS

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