Alice Ollstein

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

Articles by Alice

In the wake of the ouster of FBI Director James Comey, several news outlets reported that Comey told both the Justice Department and senior members of Congress just days before he was fired that he needed more resources for the bureau’s investigation into alleged collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election.

However, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that he believes the bureau currently has the resources it needs to complete the investigation.

“I believe we have the adequate resources to do it and I know we have resourced that investigation adequately,” he said.

McCabe refused to confirm or deny reports that Comey had sought additional resources for the investigation just before he was sacked, but added that it would be unusual for the FBI to make such a request.

“We do not typically request resources for an individual case,” he said. “As I mentioned, I believe that the Russian investigation is adequately resourced.”

McCabe did emphasize that the Russia probe is a “highly significant investigation,” though, contradicting White House claims that it is “probably one of the smallest things” on the FBI’s “plate.”

Read More →

When President Donald Trump took the shocking step of firing FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, he said Comey had “lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington.”

In the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Thursday hearing, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe refuted this assertion.

“That is not accurate,” the two-decade FBI veteran said in response to a question from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) about whether rank-and-file agents no longer supported Comey.

Read More →

In the first open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing following FBI Director James Comey’s shocking ouster, Comey’s temporary successor said the bureau’s work investigating alleged connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government will continue, and he will blow the whistle if the White House attempts to silence or influence the investigation going forward.

Read More →

The GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act may have moved on to the Senate, but progressive activists across the country remain focused on punishing House Republicans for their vote.

A small handful of the 217 lawmakers who voted for the American Health Care Act are holding town halls this week during the House recess, and they have faced angry crowds. Others are being targeted by protests outside their offices, dozens are the subject of digital and TV attack ads and scathing newspaper editorials, and some have drawn new challengers for the 2018 midterm elections. The activists targeting these lawmakers say they both want them to pay a steep price for their vote but also hope GOP senators hear the message that a vote to repeal Obamacare would be politically toxic.

Read More →

As Capitol Hill continued to reel Wednesday from the news that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, Democrats scrambled to respond to what some of them are calling a constitutional crisis.

Calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation Comey was leading grew louder from Democrats and a small handful of Republicans, who say it’s the only way to prevent the inquiry from being compromised going forward. And while they’re in the minority in the Senate as well as the House, Democrats decided to flex their muscle with a series of procedural moves to grind the upper chamber’s work to a halt—canceling or delaying all committee meetings for the rest of the day.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said the aim of the tactic was to force lawmakers from both parties to come together for an emergency meeting on the future of the FBI’s probe into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian officials.

“We need to fight for the integrity of our system of government,” he told TPM. “We need to come together in the very near future for an executive session of the Senate to have a heart-to-heart discussion on how to defend our democratic republic. We need to reach an agreement on a strategy to ensure a fully-funded, aggressive investigation of not just Russian activity but any coordination or collaboration by any members of the Trump campaign. If there was such coordination that would be a treasonous crime.”

But such bipartisan talks have yet to materialize, and some Republicans were openly frustrated by the Democrats’ stalling tactics.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) complained on the Senate floor that a hearing on aging Americans had been postponed.

I am baffled by this,” she said. “This has nothing to do with the firing of Jim Comey. It has nothing to do with the intelligence committee’s ongoing and successful investigation of Russian influence on our election. It has nothing to do with the health care debate that is roiling this Congress. This is a hearing that has to do with the health and well-being of America’s seniors. It is not political in any way.”

An hour later, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) joined the chorus of protest, lamenting that a Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on rural water systems had fallen victim to the work stoppage.

“They’re choosing to play politics and prevent scheduled meetings from occurring,” he said of Democrats, noting that some of the committee’s scheduled witnesses had traveled thousands of miles to attend.

But Democrats argued that desperate times call for desperate measures.

“Today is certainly not business as usual,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) told TPM. “There should be a drumbeat building for a bipartisan call for a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of Russian interference in our democracy—their attempts to screw our democracy.”

“I should think that Republicans would care. I’m sure in their heart of hearts they do,” she added.

Senate Democrats have not yet revealed if they plan to continue their delay tactics in the days and weeks ahead, potentially holding up votes on dozens of bills and nominees for various agency positions.

“I can’t say it’s an ongoing strategy,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Post. “It certainly is for the day.”

Hirono was similarly coy about future tactics. “Let’s just take it one day at a time,” she told TPM.

But Merkley and other Democrats talked openly about the need to escalate going forward if Republicans refuse to collaborate.

“If we don’t have a briefing by early next week, if we don’t have an executive session, if we don’t reach an agreement on the vision for a special prosecutor, we’re going to have to crank up the pressure,” he said.


Read More →

Amid widespread suspicion that the official reason for FBI Director James Comey’s firing—his handling last year of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server—was not the true reason for the ouster, several news outlets reported Wednesday morning that Comey had recently requested more funding and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The Washington Post, New York Times, and NBC confirmed that Comey had just days ago asked the Justice Department’s second in command, Rod Rosenstein, for more resources to support the inquiry into whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government last year. Rosenstein wrote the memo, made public on Tuesday, recommending Comey be terminated.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had few words Tuesday night on the bombshell news that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. While saying nothing about the decision to fire the man overseeing the intelligence community’s investigation into alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, McConnell noted that he was looking forward to confirming his replacement.

“Once the Senate receives a nomination, we look forward to a full, fair, and timely confirmation process to fill the Director position,” his statement read. “This is a critical role that is especially important as America faces serious threats at home and abroad.”

Other Republicans were much more critical of the sudden firing of Comey, calling it “troubling” and expressing concern that it would hurt the investigation going forward.

Read More →