Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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The scene outside the Mueller hearing in the hour before it started was — not surprisingly — a circus.

In the hallway outside of the committee room were dozens of TV network cameras and crews, while hundreds of members of the public lined the wall. The public viewer line stretched back around several corners of the labyrinthine Rayburn Building.

A reporter friend who was here very early told me that about 15 members of the public camped out overnight to make sure they got a seat.

As I was checking out the line, a security guard announced that there were only 47 seats total for the public in the committee room. They would rotate new people in as others left, the guard said.

Members of Congress appeared harried as they too attempted to cut through the crowd to get to the committee room and the side rooms where members of staff can hang out. Rep Jamie Raskin’s (D-MD) hair was still wet and his tie undone when I saw him walking through the hall.

Now I am in the committee room where we’re waiting for the man of the hour — former special counsel Robert Mueller — to arrive. The camera crews are poised ready to grab fresh shots of the former FBI director, who proved himself elusive to photographers during the nearly two-year-long investigation.

Today everyone knew exactly where to find him.

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A day before special counsel Robert Mueller was to testify in front of the House,  Senate Democrats were ringing the alarm about the threat of a foreign interference in the 2020 election. And that threat, they say, is going unaddressed because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t bring bipartisan election security legislation to the floor for a vote.

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An appellate court panel’s decision that narrowed the avenues by which courts can unseal grand jury materials — an issue that has implications for House Democrats who have demanded the grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s probe — won’t be reviewed by the full appeals court.

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President Trump may have backed down from the census citizenship question fight, but the ripple effects of that battle are still being felt:

  • The ACLU is continuing to pursue sanctions against the Trump administration for allegedly obscuring key facts about the question’s origins during the litigation.
  • The House held Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for not cooperating with Congress’ investigation into the question. The vote sets the stage for the House to go to court to get the census-related documents that lawmakers seek.
  • The White House is trying to push out a top Ross aide from Commerce, in part due to his bungling of the question.
  • Advocates for an accurate count are still working to mitigate the damage already done to the survey by the push to add the question, news of which may have sown confusion and, in immigrant communities, fear.
  • I noted at Prime that I am keeping a close eye on a census case in Alabama that has taken on new importance now that the administration is apparently collecting citizenship data so that it can be used for congressional apportionment.

North Carolina’s voter ID law, which has been challenged in state court, can go into effect for the 2020 election, a panel of judges said on Friday. However, they stopped short of throwing the lawsuit out entirely.

Conservative activists are pushing a ballot initiative to change Florida’s Constitution to explicitly prohibit noncitizens from voting in the state. While the legal effects of the initiative are minimal, it appears to be a measure aimed at ginning up Republican turnout in 2020. Similar drives are planned in other battleground states.

There’s new scrutiny of  the Election Assistance Commission, where the commutes of two commissioners of the Election Assistance Commission are being subsidized by the typically cash-starved agency. “Christie McCormick and Donald Palmer, the two Republican commissioners, work most days from out of state — McCormick, the agency chairwoman, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Palmer in a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida,” ProPublica’s Jessica Huseman reported Friday.

And Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan, who wrote a blistering dissent to the court’s partisan gerrymandering decision last month, said she would never “become accepting of” that ruling while speaking at Georgetown University Law Center Thursday.

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