In most weeks, a pissing match between the Speaker of the House and President of the United States over a weeks-long government shutdown would top the news. But BuzzFeed threw a wrench into that.
Late Thursday it reported that President Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress – an allegation, if proven, that would qualify as obstruction of justice, a federal crime. Hours later, however, in a rare public statement, Special Counsel Robert Mueller disputed the accuracy of the BuzzFeed report.
By then, of course, the reactions had already begun. Democrats vowed a full investigation and inspired Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy to call for Mueller to release any information he has on that aspect of the Russia investigation. The speculation added more heat than light to an already heated Washington scene, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered to let Trump deliver his State of the Union address from anywhere but the floor of her chamber and Trump, in response, canceled Pelosi’s trip abroad aboard U.S. military aircraft.
Saturday afternoon the country’s attention was yanked back to the immigration / wall issue when the president went on TV to publicly offer three years of protection to the so-called DACA immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in border security programs and a “steel barrier.” Democrats were unmoved.
Of course the government isn’t completely shut down, and earlier in the week Trump’s nominee to be the next attorney general — former Attorney General William Barr — had a confirmation hearing where Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal tried unsuccessfully to get Barr to commit to releasing Mueller’s entire report when it is ready.
The state’s senior senator was back home Friday advocating for a bill he sponsored with Murphy that would mirror a new state proposal to tighten Connecticut’s own current firearm storage law.
Pelosi, meanwhile, appointed newly elected U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, to the House Education and Labor Committee as well as the House Agriculture Committee. Veteran educator Hayes, for her part, was back home Friday encouraging Ella Briggs, the East Hampton fifth grader sworn in as this year’s official “Kid Governor” who encouraged officials to promote LGBTQ causes.
Elsewhere in Connecticut, officials continued to deal with the partial government shutdown affecting 800,000 federal workers and, indirectly, untold others.
Following up on a plan announced earlier, Gov. Ned Lamont and legislators said they will vote Tuesday on a plan to give federal workers interest-free loans while they are trying to live without a weekly paycheck. The federal employees at Bradley International Airport are among those feeling the pinch.
Lamont also spent some time interviewing two prospective finalist candidates to replace Susan Herbst as president of the University of Connecticut. Herbst, incidentally, is the first woman to hold that post in a state in which women now make up a third of the legislature.
It would take a supermajority of the legislature — 75 percent — to put up to referendum Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s proposal to allow early voting in Connecticut, something already allowed in 38 states and the District of Columbia.