Iowa

Ethics expert: GOP ‘crosses the line’ with House hallway ambushes
DCCC complaint says NRCC violated ban on using official resources for campaigns

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Having video trackers shadow candidates to get campaign dirt has become a common tactic, but the National Republican Congressional Committee  went too far if it directed aides to ambush Democrats in House office buildings, experts on congressional ethics said.

Though a GOP spokesman called it “frivolous,” the experts said there was merit to a complaint filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee against the chairman of the NRCC, Rep. Tom Emmer. It could lead to the Minnesota lawmaker facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

At the Races: Managing impeachment (and the spotlight)

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

Chief Justice leaves his friendly confines for Trump impeachment trial
Will anyone in the Senate know his favorite dessert?

President Donald Trump greets Chief Justice John Roberts after addressing a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber in February 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Charles E. Grassley was one of the first senators to suggest Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. might be uncomfortable presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — in part because it will be televised.

The Iowa Republican, who will swear in Roberts for his role Thursday, has long been an advocate for adding cameras to the Supreme Court. But Roberts and the other justices haven’t budged. They still conduct oral arguments and announce opinions in a courtroom without cameras or cell phones.

Super PACs after 10 years: Often maligned but heavily used
Democrats may slam Citizens United, but they benefit from the PACs the decision unleashed

A man demonstrates against super PACs in front of the Supreme Court in January 2012 to mark the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, which contributed to the rise of super PACs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The reelection campaign of Rep. Angie Craig, a first-term Minnesota Democrat, kicked off 2020 with an email plea to supporters: “We’ve got to overturn Citizens United.”

Noting the 10 years since the pivotal Jan. 21, 2010, Supreme Court decision, which helped spur along super PACs, the Craig campaign urged people to show their allegiance to the cause by providing their email addresses. Later, would-be donors were asked to chip in money for her campaign, even just $15.  

New Hampshire’s Kuster backs Buttigieg
Kuster is first from Granite State delegation to make an endorsement

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster is backing Pete Buttigieg for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster backed former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for president Wednesday night, less than a month before the Democratic presidential primary in the Granite State.

“With our country so consumed by division, Pete Buttigieg is the leader who can finally turn the page on the Trump presidency and bring our nation together,” Kuster tweeted. “He has the courage to break from the past to lead us to a better future — I’m excited to endorse him to be our next president.”

Impeachment clouds hang over home stretch of Iowa caucuses
Political Theater, Episode 107

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders speak as Tom Steyer looks on after the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This week’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa was the last chance for the significantly winnowed field to make a big impression — not just before the Feb. 3 caucuses there but also before the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins. 

Of the six Democrats onstage Tuesday night at Drake University in Des Moines, three of them — Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar — will be jurors in the upcoming trial and not free to move about the country, as the old Southwest Airlines ads went. 

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

Klobuchar doubts security explanation for impeachment trial press limits
Rules ranking Democrat has expressed opposition

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar during Tuesday’s Democratic primary debate Drake University in Des Moines. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

The top Democrat on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee expressed vehement opposition to new press access restrictions planned for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was in Iowa on Tuesday to participate in a Democratic presidential debate ahead of the state’s first in the nation caucuses, but it was clear that she was keeping track of the decision-making about the Senate operations during the upcoming trial.

Senators make their last pitch to Iowa before impeachment trial
Impeachment trial will mean weeks in Washington ahead of caucuses

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, during the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday with former Vice President Joe Biden in Iowa, a state they may not have much time to visit ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses once President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

For the senators running for president, Tuesday’s debate carried extra importance.

It wasn’t just the last debate ahead of the state’s caucuses — just three weeks away — it was also potentially their last big hoorah in the Hawkeye State before they’re stuck in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump that’s set to begin next week.