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  • Acting Solicitor General: Who Is Noel Francisco?

    Saturday, February 25, 2017
    Francisco represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in its successful First Amendment challenge to a federal regulation requiring cigarette manufacturers to display graphic warning images on cigarette packages. Francisco also won the appeal of former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, who’d been convicted of taking bribes. He recently found himself in the midst of a prominent case as acting solicitor general when he had to argue that Trump’s travel ban should be implemented.   read more
  • National Security Advisor: Who Was Michael Flynn?

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017
    Flynn’s tenure in the White House lasted all of 25 days. On February 13, he resigned after a behind-the-scenes controversy brewing at the highest levels of government exploded into the open, its focus being Flynn’s alleged lies to U.S. officials about his private calls to Russian officials. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once wrote that Flynn was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management,” and “has been and was right-wing nutty ever since.”   read more
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Who Is David J. Shulkin?

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017
    Shulkin’s work has frequently involved looking at managed and accountable care, in which patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. In 2008, for example, he studied why patients who are admitted at night are more likely to die than patients admitted during the day. One of his innovations was to champion 24-hour visiting hours for its healing effect on patients.   read more
  • Director of National Intelligence: Who Is Dan Coats?

    Monday, February 13, 2017
    In 2014, Coats fought for tough sanctions against Russia after its invasion and annexation of Crimea. He was a member of the secretive The Fellowship (or The Family), a Christian group that includes many conservative lawmakers and has promoted a fundamentalist agenda in the U.S. and around the world, including anti-gay laws in African countries. Coats fought the idea of gays serving openly in the U.S. military in the 1990s and once called same-sex marriage a sign of “deep moral confusion.”   read more
  • Chief Counsel and Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility: Who Is Robin Ashton?

    Monday, February 13, 2017
    Two weeks after Goodling sabotaged her promotion at the Department of Justice in 2005, Ashton left her job. The Obama administration later hired her as head of OPR, a division within the DOJ that has weathered a fair amount of controversy over the years. That includes accusations that the lethargic pace of investigating legal opinions issued by the George W. Bush administration laid the groundwork for the torture inflicted by American interrogators on post-9/11 detainees.   read more
  • Acting Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division: Who is Mary McCord?

    Saturday, February 11, 2017
    McCord is in charge of the division’s 400 employees who collectively are tasked with carrying out the counterterrorism, counterespionage and counterintelligence functions of the Justice Dept. In her post, McCord has interacted with the 94 U.S. Attorney offices across the country. She replaced Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Carlin, who left the division to enter the private sector as chair of the global risk and crisis management team for the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster.   read more
  • Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission: Who Is Jay Clayton?

    Friday, February 10, 2017
    If Goldman Sachs had been allowed to appoint the head of the SEC, which is supposed to keep an eye on the financial industry, it might’ve chosen Jay Clayton. Attorney Clayton has handled many deals for Goldman Sachs and is even married to one of its wealth managers. Goldman Sachs didn’t have to worry, because that’s exactly who Donald Trump, who declared during his campaign: “I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder. Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us,” nominated.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Who Is David Friedman?

    Thursday, February 09, 2017
    Friedman’s most radical position rejects the “two-state solution” that every U.S. administration has advocated since at least 1967. He has even said that Trump would support Israeli annexation of the West Bank—something most Israel supporters oppose because it would make Israel a Muslim-majority nation. To avoid the conclusion that his policies would destroy the Jewish character of Israel, Friedman claimed without any evidence that “nobody really knows how many Palestinians live there.”   read more
  • Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: Who Is Rosemary Collyer?

    Thursday, February 09, 2017
    Among Collyer's controversial decisions was her 2011 ruling that limited the release of details of the George W. Bush administration’s memos regarding torture. She also supported the CIA's contention that for it to acknowledge interest in using drones for targeted killing would cause damage to U.S. national security. Her decision was unanimously reversed on appeal. In 2016, she rejected the Libertarian and Green parties' claim of legal right to participate in the U.S. presidential debates.   read more
  • U.S. Trade Representative: Who Is Robert Lighthizer?

    Wednesday, February 08, 2017
    As a Washington law firm partner in 1985, Lighthizer focused on trade litigation and policy advice, in particular promoting the interests of U.S. Steel and the steel industry in general. In 1985, he lobbied on behalf of Brazil’s Sugar and Alcohol Institute. A longtime protectionist, he criticized presidential candidate Sen. John McCain for what Lighthizer believed were trade-friendly policies. And, like Trump, Lighthizer has focused on China as a trade bogeyman.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission: Who is Anuj Desai?

    Wednesday, February 08, 2017
    In 1996, Desai was recruited as a legal assistant to the U.S. arbitrators at the Iran-U.S. States Claims Tribunal in The Hague, a job that continued through 1998. Later that year he went on to practice law with the Seattle firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, focusing on litigation pertaining to copyright, trademark, newsgathering and the First Amendment. Then in 2001, he joined the University of Wisconsin Law School faculty as a professor of law. He has continued in that job to the present.   read more
  • 97 Corporations and 16 State Attorneys General Join Court Fight against Trump Travel Ban

    Tuesday, February 07, 2017
    “President Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American...[and] undermines our states’ families, economies, and institutions," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. High-ranking U.S. security officials, including Madeleine Albright, Leon Panetta and John Kerry signed a declaration arguing the ban endangers U.S. citizens. “We view the order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States...” the officials said.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity: Who is Gustavo Velasquez?

    Tuesday, February 07, 2017
    Born in Mexico, Velasquez served as director of the D.C. Office of Latino Affairs between 2003 and 2006. He then joined the Office of Human Rights, where he worked for nearly seven years, focusing on enforcing civil rights, including non-discrimination practices through the D.C. Human Rights Act. In 2013, Velasquez took over as executive director of the Latino Economic Development Center, a non-profit that helps Latinos find affordable housing and develop business skills.   read more
  • Secretary of Energy: Who Is Rick Perry?

    Monday, February 06, 2017
    Oil and gas interests have comprised most of Perry’s political donors over the years. A strong advocate of the death penalty, Perry is a climate-change denier who said those who believe the overwhelming evidence that the climate is changing “know that we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists..." As governor of Texas, Perry was Indicted for abuse of power--charges that were eventually dropped.   read more
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Who Is Mick Mulvaney?

    Friday, February 03, 2017
    Mulvaney rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 to become one of the 14 most conservative members of Congress. He signed on to Speaker Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher scheme and was criticized at his confirmation hearing for not having paid payroll taxes for the woman who cared for his young triplets. When Mulvaney said he couldn’t recall voting for cuts in defense spending and troop deployments, Sen. McCain responded: “I think I would remember if I was withdrawing troops from Europe.”   read more
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development: Who Is Harriet Tregoning?

    Friday, February 03, 2017
    As director of D.C.'s Planning Office, Tergoning devoted herself to revitalizing the city, with a focus on making it more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Many residents found her efforts arrogant and high-handed. “The thing people sometimes forget about Harriet is, she's viewed as a hero in the smart-growth movement, but a lot of D.C. residents really didn't like her,” said a Post reporter. The Washingtonian called her “a street fighter who often finds herself between warring forces.”   read more
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Who is Scott Pruitt?

    Thursday, February 02, 2017
    Pruitt filed a series of 14 lawsuits against federal regulations designed to protect the environment from numerous threats, including mercury emissions by coal-burning power plants, and carbon dioxide that causes climate change. In 13 of the cases, Pruitt was joined by co-plaintiffs including companies that had contributed money to him. At one point, Pruitt allowed an industry-written letter, prepared by Devon Energy officials, to be printed verbatim on official stationery with his signature.   read more
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