President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he would nominate Julie Su to be his next Labor secretary, moving swiftly to fill a coming vacancy within his cabinet.

“It is my honor to nominate Julie Su to be our country’s next Secretary of Labor,” Biden said in a statement. “Julie has spent her life fighting to make sure that everyone has a fair shot, that no community is overlooked, and that no worker is left behind. Over several decades, Julie has led the largest state labor department in the nation, cracked down on wage theft, fought to protect trafficked workers, increased the minimum wage, created good-paying, high-quality jobs, and established and enforced workplace safety standards.”

Su is currently the deputy Labor secretary and will be nominated to replace Marty Walsh, who is departing the administration to run the professional hockey players’ union. Su’s confirmation fight could be a tough one in the Senate; she was confirmed 50-47 to her slot in 2021 with no Republican support.

Asian American members of Congress had pushed hard for Su to lead the Labor Department at the beginning of the Biden administration before the president picked Walsh, whose impending departure prompted the lawmakers to again lobby for Su.

Influential labor unions like SEIU had also rallied around Su. Others in organized labor were generally supportive of her becoming Labor secretary, even if they stopped short of a formal endorsement.

Though Su quickly emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Walsh, the Biden administration did explore several alternatives. Among those were Sara Nelson, the leader of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA who had the backing of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose committee will handle Biden’s nomination.

Sanders said in an interview that he wasn’t sure when Walsh was leaving but he’d try to move Su’s nomination as soon as possible.

“She was not my first choice, but I’ve every confidence she’s going to do a great job,” said Sanders, who had pushed for Nelson.

Su is already in line to become acting Labor secretary once Walsh leaves mid-March, and she has taken on an increased presence in recent weeks as the agency prepares for the handoff.

The two were scheduled to appear together midday Tuesday in Houston for a tour of a local apprenticeship program, alongside the heads of the Teamsters union and United Airlines.

Until recently, Su rarely traveled outside of the capital while Walsh was a frequent presence for the Biden administration across the country and regularly appeared with the president at high-profile events, according to a POLITICO review of the pair’s public schedules.

If confirmed, Su would be the Biden administration’s first AAPI Cabinet secretary, though she would join fellow AAPI Cabinet members Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar.

Before joining DOL, Su served in several top posts in California state government, including as labor secretary under Gov. Gavin Newsom. Prior to that she worked as a lawyer for low-wage and immigrant workers, including at a legal aid nonprofit in Los Angeles. During that span, she represented more than 70 undocumented Thai garment workers forced to work under sweatshop conditions — a case that gained widespread attention at the time and helped lead to the creation of new visa classes for victims of human trafficking or other crimes.

However, her tenure in California government was a major reason her confirmation to the number two job at DOL only scraped by on a party-line vote. Su’s opponents seized on her support for a controversial law classifying many gig workers as employees, instead of independent contractors, and overseeing the state’s unemployment system, which struggled to properly administer benefits during the pandemic.

Her record is likely to face even more scrutiny this go around, and she will have to answer for moves made by DOL during Walsh’s tenure. Among those moves will be the Biden administration’s handling of the freight rail labor standoff last year, in which Su played a central role.

The White House has had an imperfect record shepherding through key labor nominees through the closely-divided Senate. Last year, a trio of Democrats — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly — joined Republicans to sink David Weil’s candidacy to helm DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. And earlier this month, the president’s replacement for Weil — Jessica Looman — failed to advance out of the HELP committee.

The forthcoming nomination fight could also be impacted by Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who is receiving inpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for depression following a stroke during his election campaign. Fetterman’s staff recently said that he is progressing well, though it is uncertain when he will be able to return to Congress.

House Republicans are moving to provide defendants in Jan. 6-related cases access to thousands of hours of internal Capitol security footage, a move that could influence many of the ongoing prosecutions stemming from 2021’s violent attack.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who chairs the House Administration Committee’s oversight subpanel, said that the access for accused rioters and others — which Speaker Kevin McCarthy has greenlighted — would be granted on a “case-by-case basis.”

“Everyone accused of a crime in this country deserves due process, which includes access to evidence which may be used to prove their guilt or innocence,” Loudermilk told POLITICO in a statement. “It is our intention to make available any relevant documents or videos, on a case-by-case basis, as requested by attorneys representing defendants.”

Loudermilk will be leading the effort given his senior Administration panel post, according to a senior Republican congressional aide who addressed the evolving decision on condition of anonymity. The GOP aide added that the new House majority is working on a system that eventually will allow members of the media and the public to access some Jan. 6 records as well.

The footage access plan, described by three people familiar with the discussions, follows McCarthy’s move to grant exclusive access to the 41,000 hours of internal Capitol film from the day of the riot to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. McCarthy and his allies are also making clear that there will be limits on the extent of material permitted to leave the tightly controlled confines of the Capitol, where Carlson’s team has been reviewing the footage for days.

“What gets released is obviously going to be scrutinized to make sure you’re not exposing any sensitive information that hasn’t already been exposed,” said Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).

McCarthy told reporters Tuesday that he ultimately envisions releasing nearly all of the Jan. 6 surveillance footage publicly, with exceptions for sensitive security information.

“I think putting it out all to the American public, you can see the truth, see exactly what transpired that day and everybody can have the exact same” access, McCarthy said. “My intention is to release it to everyone.”

McCarthy dismissed questions about his decision to share the footage with Carlson, who has downplayed the Jan. 6 attack, describing it as a typical media exclusive. He noted that he did not consult with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell about his decision.

Similar measures would be taken with any footage opened up to Jan. 6 defendants and their lawyers, two of the people familiar said, though details of those steps remain unclear for now. Among the big logistical questions Republicans are still discussing: whether any footage they open up to defendants can be used in court proceedings, which would effectively make it public.

McCarthy’s decision to let Carlson view the footage from the violent riot by former President Donald Trump’s supporters has already been raised in two ongoing Jan. 6 criminal cases. In one instance, a lawyer for one of the Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy has asked prosecutors to determine whether they will access and share the footage; then on Tuesday morning, Joseph McBride, an attorney for Jan. 6 defendant Ryan Nichols, claimed he had already been given permission to review the footage.

It’s unclear if the Justice Department has requested similar access. A DOJ spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The footage release marks the latest twist in McCarthy’s complicated history with Jan. 6. He led more than 130 House Republicans in objecting to the 2020 election results, even after rioters tore through the Capitol, then condemned the riot in the immediate aftermath and said Trump bore responsibility for it.

Colleagues said McCarthy pleaded with Trump amid the chaos to call off his supporters as they ransacked the building and pummeled police. But after meeting with Trump weeks after the siege, McCarthy strongly opposed Democratic efforts to investigate the breach, particularly after then Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked two of his members from serving on the panel. He ended up spurning a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Though many House Republicans have indicated they hope to move on from regularly discussing the attack, McCarthy’s decision to allow access to the footage — following pressure from a faction of conservative detractors who worked initially to deny him the speakership — has forced Jan. 6 back onto the agenda.

Speaking to his conference for the first time since permitting Carlson to review the copious amounts of internal Capitol security footage, McCarthy sought to quell any internal concerns among members, according to three House Republicans in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity.

During Tuesday’s closed-door conference meeting, McCarthy pointed to footage that Democrats played during select committee hearings last year which showed various locations during the assault, according to one of those Republicans — and described the criticism he’s received for granting Carlson access as “hypocrisy.”

Scalise also argued during a press conference Tuesday morning that the Democrat-led Jan. 6 committee had already released similar types of information, as had former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s daughter in a documentary film.

People familiar with the Jan. 6 select committee investigation have emphasized that the footage the panel aired followed intensive negotiations with the Capitol Police, which often pushed back to restrict the length of clips or number of angles the committee could show. Some footage aired by the panel had also been previously made public in ongoing criminal cases stemming from the riot.

It’s unclear what similar steps McCarthy is taking, and as a result his access for Carlson has sparked staunch pushback from Democrats, who say any wide release of unvetted footage could jeopardize Capitol security. The Capitol Police have warned repeatedly in court that any widespread access to security footage could provide a roadmap for potential perpetrators of any future assault on the Capitol.

But dozens of hours of security footage have also been publicly released in the hundreds of criminal cases that have been brought forward since Jan. 6.

Loudermilk is intimately familiar with the Jan. 6 select committee’s handling of security footage. The panel released film of a group of tourists he led through Capitol office buildings on Jan. 5, 2021 — one of whom approached the Capitol grounds the following day while recording menacing statements about Democratic leaders.

Some Republicans across the ideological spectrum praised McCarthy for his move to release the footage.

“Best if all Americans have access,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who hails from a competitive battleground district. “I don’t hear much about this at home.”

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, praised McCarthy for the move and shrugged off those voicing security concerns: “This place is so convoluted. That’s why they don’t have a map on it … I just got lost trying to get to the tunnel.”

The Jan. 6 footage decision is getting a lot of attention during what Republicans say is an otherwise calm week — so far. In Tuesday morning’s conference meeting, Republicans discussed upcoming bills they will vote on this week, while Scalise also previewed plans for elements of their upcoming agenda, such as a parents’ bill of rights and an energy package set to hit the floor the spring, according to two GOP sources.

The first House Republican to call for Rep. George Santos’ resignation is now taking it a step further, introducing a bill that would prevent the embattled New Yorker from profiting off his campaign lies.

Santos’ fellow first-term New York Rep. Anthony D’Esposito has started circulating proposed bill text among his GOP colleagues for a bid to prevent members convicted of certain offenses from then profiting off book deals, speech commissions, television shows and more, according to a copy first obtained by POLITICO.

While D’Esposito’s measure doesn’t name Santos directly, a Republican with direct knowledge of the move says it was triggered by the scandal-plagued New Yorker. Nearly the entirety of Santos’ background has been called into question after a deluge of news stories detailed the lies, contradictions and misleading comments he repeatedly made about his resume, ancestry and education.

The idea that once Santos leaves office, he could profit off of his story with a book or movie contract has privately percolated among — and annoyed — House Republicans.

The bill would “prohibit Members of the House of Representatives who are convicted of offenses involving financial or campaign finance fraud from receiving compensation for biographies, media appearances, or expressive or creative works, and for other purposes,” according to the text.

Separately, D’Esposito is pushing a resolution that proposes similar changes to the House rules. A spokesperson for D’Esposito declined to comment.

The move underscores the acutely bad blood among New York Republicans, some of whom have also called for expelling Santos from Congress. But it’s unclear how many other GOP members would sign on to the effort, as many have expressed anger at Santos’ actions but indicated they plan to keep their distance.

A spokesperson for Santos railed against the move, calling on his GOP colleagues to turn their attention to Democrats instead, as well as issues like inflation and crime rates that propelled them to the majority.

Santos faced an almost domino-like effect with his GOP colleagues calling for him to resign — mostly New York Republicans freshmen, in addition to freshman Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) — in early January after a series of interviews where he wasn’t able to clear the air about his background — and even at times raising additional questions about how he made his money.

Since then, Santos has largely kept to himself, even announcing to his colleagues that he’d remove himself temporarily from his two assigned committees until there was clarity, amid federal and House Ethics probes.

It’s entirely unclear how long John Fetterman will stay out of the Senate. And Democrats are OK with that.

The newly elected Pennsylvania Democrat is still getting inpatient treatment for depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, with no concrete timetable for his return to the Capitol. His staff released an update on Monday that said Fetterman “remains on a path to recovery” and is staying briefed on Senate action.

His absence throws a sizable roadblock in the path of Senate Democrats’ 51-49 majority. But party leaders are intent on giving him as much time as he needs to recover — particularly given the lengthy recuperation periods that former Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) needed after significant injuries in 2012 and 2006, respectively.

“We have gone through periods of time since I’ve been in the Senate where members have been [gone] for lengthy periods of time for good reasons, health reasons. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pressure on anybody. Let him get well, let his family feel he’s getting the best care. Those are the highest priorities,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I wish that his critics would show a little bit of humanity.”

Fetterman’s win in November gave his party the cushion it needs for him to take time to recover, both from his depression and from last year’s stroke that preceded it, without disrupting Senate business. It’s a far cry from last year’s 50-50 Senate, where one extended absence could have derailed things.

With Fetterman out, Democrats still have a 50-49 majority that allows unilateral confirmation of nominees — without a vice presidential tie-breaker. The chamber has no immediate plans to consider legislation that would require 60 votes to break a filibuster.

Fetterman’s absence does mean Democrats can’t afford absences on tough confirmation votes that all Republicans oppose, and that the GOP can more easily approve rollbacks of Biden administration regulations if it has full attendance. But right now, his treatment’s only expected to cause a weeks-long delay that wouldn’t hobble nominees who lack GOP support.

And the bipartisan history of senators taking extended leaves for recovery is clearly helping generate goodwill in the chamber, despite off-Hill criticism from some conservatives.

GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said in an interview that he “hates what’s going on” with Fetterman and described the progressive as a “good” friend despite the difference in their ideologies.

“He’s still got to work and he’s still got to get to votes. But I hope he gets back sooner than later,” said Tuberville, who has not spoken recently to Fetterman. “I’d rather have him here than not.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that Fetterman is “trying to take care of his health. And I find no fault with that.”

Several senators, including Durbin and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), said they’d sent Fetterman notes since he checked into the hospital earlier this month. Most senators indicated they had not spoken directly with Fetterman, according to more than a dozen interviews on Monday — suggesting a broad hands-off approach.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who also suffered from a stroke last year, said his staff had reached out to Fetterman’s team in case it needed assistance.

“Everyone is being very accommodating and wants what is best for John’s health. We are getting zero pressure for him to come back before the timeline we’ve laid out for John’s recovery,” said Adam Jentleson, Fetterman’s chief of staff.

Fetterman just won a six-year term in a seat that’s a cornerstone of Democrats’ majority, meaning there’s no push within the party for him to step down and trigger a special election. And for Fetterman, being in the Senate fulfills one of his life goals: He’s run twice to join the upper chamber, including a 2016 campaign that fell far short in the Democratic primary.

Last year, however, Fetterman romped in the primary and defeated Republican Mehmet Oz by 5 percentage points — even as his health challenges dominated the general-election campaign after his May stroke. Some Republicans argued then that he wasn’t fit for office due to his post-stroke condition and debate performance.

“I think he’s gone through some challenges, and that the stroke had some impacts on his hearing, I think it’s going to come back,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “But I absolutely could see how you can get down in the dumps over that.”

Since taking office, Fetterman has often required a screen with transcription to conduct conversations. Until his recent health setback, he was voting on the Senate floor and also attended and asked questions at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. His speech was halting and labored as he sometimes mixed up words during the hearing, a remnant of his auditory processing problems following the stroke. Once a famously accessible politician, Fetterman also doesn’t engage with reporters in the halls of the Capitol.

Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, said that the panel has “made every effort to accommodate him and will continue to do so.”

“He was working hard to try and keep up and get things done,” said Boozman, who had major heart surgery in 2014. “It just seemed like a difficult situation.”

Despite pro-Fetterman sentiment in their ranks, some in the GOP still see thorny political dynamics behind his decision to keep running after suffering a stroke.

“What I would worry about is whether there were people basically taking advantage of him and encouraging him to run for the Senate when he wasn’t physically able to do it, but he wasn’t well. I don’t know the whole story, but it looks to me like that could have been one part of the explanation,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Earlier this month, Fetterman spent several nights in the hospital for what his office described as lightheadedness. Testing during that episode showed no evidence of any new stroke or seizure, his office said later. Then later in the month, before last week’s recess, Fetterman checked himself into the hospital for depression.

Luján, who suffered a stroke last year and offered Fetterman repeated encouragement during the campaign, said that Fetterman’s public acknowledgement of his mental health is a significant step: “How many other folks have maybe done the same thing and not shared about admitting themselves? For John, he shared with the American people, ‘if you’re not feeling well, go in.’”

“Mental health issues continue to carry stigma in this country,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “He helped change how Americans look at that issue. But it hasn’t changed everyone’s mind. So he gets the extra hard look over his illness when other senators get a pass for theirs.”

Meredith Lee Hill contributed to this report.

Two White House officials involved in crafting immigration policy are preparing to depart as the Biden administration rolls out new asylum restrictions that critics say mirror those from the Trump era.

Lise Clavel, deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser for migration, and Leidy Perez-Davis, special assistant to the president for immigration, are set to leave the White House, according to two sources familiar with the plans. Clavel’s last day will be March 1, but Perez-Davis was asked by the White House to delay her departure and will leave in a couple months, according to a person familiar with the plan but was not authorized to speak publicly.

Both Clavel and Perez-Davis have been in their roles for roughly a year. Clavel has been with the administration since the start, previously serving as chief of staff at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection before moving to the White House. Perez-Davis was previously policy director at the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project.

Staff departures from any administration are common following a midterm election. But news of the impending exits comes days after the Biden administration announced its most restrictive border control measure to date: a proposed rule that will bar some migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they cross the border illegally or fail to first apply for safe harbor in another country. The proposal — which immigrant advocates refer to as the “transit ban” or the “asylum ban” — will take effect on May 11 and serve as its policy solution to the long-awaited end of Title 42, a pandemic-era restriction that lifts the same day.

The policy prompted immediate backlash from immigrant advocates and Democrats who accused the White House of perpetuating a Donald Trump-like approach to border politics that President Joe Biden pledged on the campaign trail to end. Advocacy groups also said they were considering lawsuits.

Amid the blowback, administration officials criticized Congress, arguing that the White House has been left to roll out new policies to fill the “void” left by inaction on the Hill.

“To be clear, this was not our first preference or even our second. From day one, Biden has urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures to ensure orderly, safe and humane processing of migrants at our border,” a senior administration official said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the departures.

Clavel and Perez-Davis’ exit from the administration are just the latest changes on Biden’s team handling migration and the border in his first two years. Tyler Moran, Biden’s senior adviser for migration, left in January 2022, after replacing Amy Pope the previous summer. Esther Olavarria, the deputy assistant to the president for immigration at the Domestic Policy Council, also retired that month.

Roberta Jacobson, Biden’s “border czar” left in April 2021, and some mid and low-level aides have also departed.

Jason Houser, who POLITICO reported was preparing to depart as chief of staff at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will also leave in the coming days. He was the highest-ranking political appointee at the DHS agency since there is no Senate-confirmed director.

NEW YORK — George Santos lied to a Seattle judge about working for Goldman Sachs while speaking at a 2017 bail hearing for a “family friend” who later pleaded guilty to fraud in an ATM skimming scheme, according to an audio recording of the proceeding and court records.

“So what do you do for work?” King County Superior Court Judge Sean O’Donnell asked Santos at the May 15, 2017 arraignment of defendant Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha.

“I am an aspiring politician and I work for Goldman Sachs,” Santos replied.

“You work for Goldman Sachs in New York?” the judge asked.

“Yup,” Santos responded.

The New York Republican did indeed have a political future. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a Long Island swing district last November based on a largely fabricated résumé that included the claim he worked for Goldman Sachs, one of the largest investment banks in the world.

A spokesperson for the bank told The New York Times in its original investigation into Santos’ background that there was no record of him working there. He later admitted in a New York Post interview he “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs, but claimed a financial firm he was employed at, LinkBridge Investors, had “limited partnerships” with the bank.

Santos now faces investigations by state, federal and international agencies on a range of potential crimes from campaign finance violations to pet charity fraud. He has refused to resign from Congress despite bipartisan calls for him to step down, arguing he never broke any laws, but he did forgo committee assignments citing the “ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations.”

Santos’ attorney Joe Murray did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Santos appeared at the 2017 hearing on behalf of Trelha using his full name, George Anthony Devolder Santos. He told the judge he would secure “a long extended-stay apartment through Airbnb” in Seattle during the case if the defendant was released on bail.

“How do you know this man?” the judge asked.

“We’re family friends. Our parents know each other from Brazil,” Santos said.

Trelha was ultimately deported to Brazil in early 2018 after serving seven months in jail and pleading guilty to felony access device fraud. In a telephone interview, Trelha said Santos lied about their relationship, too. Trelha, through a translator, said he met Santos in the fall of 2016 on a Facebook group for Brazilians living in Orlando, Fla., and that his mother died in 2012.

Trelha eventually moved into Santos’ Winter Park, Fla., apartment in November 2016, according to a copy of the lease viewed by POLITICO. Santos had moved south from New York City, after he was transferred to a new position at the hospitality website HotelsPro, according to Lilian Cabral, a coworker at HotelsPro in Orlando.

A federal prosecutor who ultimately handled the case described the fraud as “sophisticated,” saying Trelha’s three-day skimming spree in Seattle was only “the tip of the iceberg,” according to a court transcript first reported by CBS News.

A person close to the investigation who is not authorized to speak publicly said prosecutors ultimately didn’t dig much deeper. The person didn’t remember seeing any forensic reports on Trelha’s phone and said prosecutors didn’t seem eager to pursue any international or domestic co-conspirators.

New York-based lawyer Tiffany Bogosian, a former friend of Santos who helped him duck a theft charge in 2020 involving the use of canceled checks to purchase puppies from Amish farmers in Pennsylvania, told POLITICO in a Feb. 7 interview that Santos said he was an “informant” in Trelha’s case.

Santos told Bogosian a warrant for his arrest in the Pennsylvania case was somehow tied to his work as an informant in the Trelha investigation, she said. Bogosian, believing his story at the time, said she called Seattle police detective Lawrence Meyer, who didn’t verify the term “informant” but confirmed Santos had “pointed them in the right direction” and offered some names of people involved in the credit card fraud. POLITICO could not reach Meyer to confirm the exchange.

When Trelha was arrested on April 27, he was caught on a security camera removing skimming equipment from a Chase ATM on Pike Street in downtown Seattle. He had a fake Brazilian ID card and 10 suspected fraudulent cards in his hotel room, according to arrest documents. An empty Fed-Ex package police found in his rental car was sent from the Winter Park apartment he shared with Santos. Trelha declined to say who sent the package from the apartment.

His plan was to spend a week skimming numbers and making fraudulent cards using gift cards bought at stores, Trelha said, and then another week taking out the maximum ATM withdrawals with pin numbers captured by the skimmers and cameras he installed.

“You go at 11 p.m. so you can max it out and then when it turns midnight you take the max amount again,” he said.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Emily Langlie, said sometimes identity and credit card thieves go far from home to collect numbers, so there is less chance of the stolen numbers being connected to the perpetrators later. Langlie told POLITICO she didn’t have any information about Santos’ involvement in the Trelha investigation.

Trelha said that after he was arrested in Seattle he reached out to a friend who contacted Santos to help him, he said. “He was American and spoke English, so we thought he could help me the most,” Trelha recalled. By then, Santos had moved back north to help care for his sick mother.

“Mr. Devolder lives in New York,” Trelha’s public defender Virginia Branham said at the bail hearing. “I have spoken to him multiple times over the last few weeks. This is the second time he’s flown out here to assist Mr. Trelha. He has arranged an extended Airbnb for Mr. Trelha to stay at during the pendency of this case,” Branham said in the recording.

Santos told the judge he’d known Trelha “for a few years,” adding they’d “lost touch [but] got back in touch in September last year in Orlando when I was relocated from New York.”

Santos said he was staying at a hotel “by the Space Needle” until the judge’s bail decision. At the hearing, Trelha’s bail was reduced from $250,000 to $75,000 — still well above the $10,000 requested by his counsel. Trelha said he was unable to post bail because he didn’t have a local guarantor.

A Google account under the name George Devolder, with reviews of Brazilian restaurants in Queens and rental car companies in Miami, left a negative review of a Seattle Domino’s Pizza location in 2017, two miles from King County Jail and close to the Space Needle.

“1 hour viewing the tracker not move! very very very slow giving the time ordered (late night) called the store was on hold for 35mins with no answer!!!! NEVER order from this store, not worth the agrevation!!!”

A three-judge federal appeals court panel wrestled Thursday with tangled questions about Congress’ immunity from criminal inquiries — and whether it might apply to efforts by Rep. Scott Perry to aid Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.

Two of the three D.C. Circuit judges hearing the case appeared highly skeptical of the Justice Department’s narrow view of the Constitution’s “speech or debate” protection for lawmakers, but it was unclear whether that disagreement would translate into a ruling that denies investigators access to the contents of a cell phone they seized from the Republican congressman in August.

The complex dispute has enormous implications for Congress itself and the scope of protection that lawmakers enjoy from the speech or debate clause, which the framers intended to protect members of the House and Senate from coercion or intimidation by the executive branch. And the implications of the fight may go even further: Former Vice President Mike Pence is fighting a grand jury subpoena in the same investigation on the grounds that his role as president of the Senate affords him speech or debate protection as well.

The contours of the clause’s protection have remained ill-defined for generations. Only a handful of court cases, each with intricate and distinguishing features, have set rough parameters, and none of them neatly match up with Perry’s case, which is at the center of special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal probe into Trump’s effort to derail the transfer of power.

The most notable came in 2006, when the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson for evidence of financial crimes. Another arose in the 1990s, when a tobacco company sought to compel Congress to return documents that it claimed were stolen by a paralegal before they were delivered to lawmakers. And a third occurred in 1979, when a lawmaker — who had testified 10 times to a grand jury — was nevertheless found by the Supreme Court to be immune from having his legislative activities introduced during a subsequent criminal prosecution.

At the heart of the matter is whether Perry’s efforts — including a bid to help Trump replace the leadership of the Justice Department with allies sympathetic to his bid to overturn the election results — fit within his “legislative” responsibilities. The speech or debate clause has been interpreted to cover actions taken by members of Congress that help them perform a legislative act, and the Justice Department contends Perry’s actions fall outside of that framework.

Perry’s lawyer John Rowley, on the other hand, said the congressman’s outreach in the days before Jan. 6 was part of an “informal” fact-gathering process meant to guide two legislative tasks: his vote to support or oppose certification of the election results on Jan. 6, and his vote on sweeping election reform legislation proposed by Democrats that passed the House on Jan. 3, 2021. If that’s the case, Rowley said, the speech or debate clause protects the communications on his cell phone from compelled disclosure to the Justice Department.

“This fact-finding was not hypothetical. It was within the legislative sphere,” Rowley told the panel.

Justice Department attorney John Pellettieri sharply disputed Rowley’s broad conception of speech or debate protection, contending that Perry’s fact-gathering was not authorized by any committee or by the House itself and therefore wasn’t covered by speech or debate privilege, which the department said only applies to those discretely authorized inquiries. That suggestion prompted sharp rebuttals from the panel.

Judges Greg Katsas and Neomi Rao, both Trump appointees, hammered away at Pelletieri’s claim that only members of Congress involved in committee-led investigations can claim the privilege for their fact-finding activities.

“Why wouldn’t an individual member’s fact-finding be covered?” Rao asked.

“It’s a little bit of an odd line,” Katsas said. “You’re putting a lot of weight on this formal authorization.”

Later, Rowley noted that such a conception of the speech or debate clause would ensure that no members of the House or Senate minority would enjoy its protections during their own efforts to research legislation.

Pellettieri warned that accepting such a broad privilege for lawmakers would allow them to claim that almost anything they were doing was related to legislative work. “Not everything in a congressman’s life is protected,” the DOJ lawyer said, adding that such a move would amount to “a huge extension” of the privilege beyond its established bounds.

“Every facet of American life goes before the Congress,” Pellettieri added. “It has never been the case that every communication with anyone, anywhere about a vote would be covered….There has to be a balance.”

The judges appeared to be considering two possibilities that could allow them to bless a broad sweep for speech-or-debate privilege while still allowing investigators to evidence on Perry’s phone.

Rao suggested the court might rule that Perry couldn’t be prosecuted or interrogated in court over his fact-finding activities, but the information could still be obtained by Justice Department investigators probing potential crimes related to the 2020 election.

Katsas suggested that the court might conclude that discussions with people outside the legislative branch aren’t confidential. The appeals court is also considering whether Perry’s conversations with people in the executive branch, such as Trump, are covered by the legislative privilege.

While the appeals court did not rule Thursday, the arguments did reveal for the first time the legal basis of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s sealed ruling in December rejecting Perry’s bid to keep investigations from accessing his phone. It emerged at the arguments that Howell concluded that Perry’s activities related to certification of the election were not shielded by the speech or debate clause because they were not part of any formally authorized Congressional inquiry.

The third judge on the appeals panel, Karen Henderson, presided over the arguments remotely. The judge, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, did not ask any questions before she was disconnected about halfway through the public session. Katsas said the court planned to reconnect her for a subsequent argument that the judges heard under seal about the specifics of Perry’s case.

While the morning’s events left Henderson’s views on the Perry case a mystery, Henderson was among the judges who ruled on the 2007 Jefferson dispute and broke with colleagues. In that case, Henderson favored greater power for Justice Department criminal investigators than the other appeals judges who considered the matter.

By Scott Zimmerman and Mary Frost

By Andre Popa

By Rachel Writeside Blonde

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