Awkward: Sen. Ted Cruz recalls watching porn with Sandra Day O’Connor

Published: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 @ 8:41 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 @ 8:41 PM

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How many times will Sen. Ted Cruz have to tell the story about watching pornography on a computer with now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor while he was a clerk at the Supreme Court? 

A candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz humored a TMZ photographer and told the story one more time. 

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The story goes like this:

“...The year I was a clerk for Rehnquist, the Internet was nascent technology. The court was considering one of the first cases challenging the constitutionality of a law passed by Congress to regulate Internet pornography,” Cruz wrote in Politico

“Most of the justices were in their 60s or older. Few knew much or anything about the Internet. So the librarians of the court designed a tutorial for them. They set up sessions for two justices at a time and their clerks. As it happened, our Rehnquist group was paired with Justice O’Connor’s.

“In a small room gathered the chief, O’Connor, and their respective law clerks. The librarians' purpose was to demonstrate to the justices how easy it was to find porn on the Internet.

“I remember standing behind the computer, watching the librarian go to a search engine, turn off the filters, and type in the word cantaloupe, though misspelling it slightly. After she pressed 'return,' a slew of hard-core, explicit images showed up on screen.

“Here I was, a 26-year-old man looking at explicit porn with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was standing alongside the colleague (my boss) she had once dated in law school. As we watched these graphic pictures fill our screens, wide-eyed, no one said a word. Except for Justice O’Connor, who lowered her head, squinted slightly, and muttered, ‘Oh, my.’”

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Sen. Sherrod Brown donates pay during shutdown

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 11:53 PM

Sen. Sherrod Brown on stop-gap spending bill

Under relentless attacks from Republicans for blocking a vote on a bill that would have kept the federal government open, Sen. Sherrod Brown said he would donate his paycheck during the shutdown to an Ohio diaper bank which helps low-income families. 

Brown, D-Ohio, announced the move in a statement Saturday on the first full day of a partial shutdown of the federal government. Senate Democrats have insisted that any spending measure provide legal protections for the children of undocumented immigrants, a program known as the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA. 

>> Shutdown uncertainty plagues civil servants, WPAFB workers, businesses

Senate Republicans Friday night could not muster 60 votes to force a floor on a bill that would have kept the government open for the next four years and extend a children’s health program which provides coverage to nearly 220,000 low-income Ohio children. 

Even though Brown is a supporter of the program – the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP – he sided with 43 other Senate Democrats to block passage of the temporary spending bill. 

Senate Republican candidates Jim Renacci and Mike Gibbons assailed Brown’s move. Blaine Kelly, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party quipped “that’s the least he can do after flip flopping on CHIP and putting the health insurance of a quarter million Ohio children at risk.” 

Earlier in the week in a conference call with Ohio reporters, Brown indicated he would support a separate vote on DACA instead of tying it to the spending bill. 

If the Senate does not agree to a spending bill Sunday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers – including as many as 13,000 civilian workers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton – would face a furlough. 

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however, would continue to be paid. In addition to Brown, Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, asked that his pay be withheld during the shutdown. Latta voted for the bill that passed the House Thursday to keep the government open and extend CHIP. 

Mail will still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.

Congress back at work on Sunday, still searching for deal to end shutdown

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 7:32 PM

With no signs of any deal to restore funding for the federal government, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will be back for a rare Sunday session, with no real signs of an agreement to end the first government shutdown since 2013, as both parties continued to point the finger of blame at each other.

The main stumbling block continues to be immigration, and what to do about hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant Dreamers in the United States, who were protected under the Obama Administration’s DACA program, which was ended by the Trump Administration in October.

Republicans made clear – there is no deadline on DACA until March – as they said those negotiations should simply continue while the government is funded and operating.

“I hope Senator Schumer comes to his senses and ends this shutdown madness sooner rather than later,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, taking aim at the Senate Democratic Leader.

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But for Democrats, they worry that the GOP will never deal on immigration and DACA, as their leaders have decided now is the time to press for action.

During Saturday’s House and Senate sessions – where no obvious progress was made – Democrats continued to argue that Republicans were the problem, since the GOP is in charge of the House, Senate and White House.

“Americans know Republicans own the Trump Shutdown,” said Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY). “Anyone claiming otherwise should double check who has control in Congress.”

Instead of signs of compromise, Saturday was mainly filled with tough rhetoric from both parties. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump’s grade for his first year in office was a “big fat failure F.”

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With no evidence of any deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set a procedural vote for just after 1 am on Monday morning, trying to force action on a plan to extend government funding until February 8, as he again blamed Democrats for the impasse.

If Democrats hold together as they did late on Friday night, then that motion would not get the needed 60 votes to end debate, meaning the shutdown would hit government offices on Monday morning.

Various federal agencies were still making their plans for Monday; one federal worker that I saw on Saturday evening said his office had been told to come in for four hours on Monday, and then they would likely be sent home if there was no funding plan approved by the Congress.

Women's marches, events taking place across nation

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

WATCH: Scenes From 2018 Women's March

A series of women’s marches, protests and voter registration events are taking place across the country this weekend.

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. In 2017, the Women’s March on Washington drew a large crowd that marched in protest of Trump’s election. Women’s marches were held across the country and the world.

For 2018, marches and rallies are being held in cities across the country throughout the weekend. There will be a voter registration drive on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Congress at work on a Saturday as lawmakers try to end shutdown quickly

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 5:18 AM

Hours after funding lapsed for the federal government at midnight, lawmakers in both parties returned for an unusual Saturday session of the House and Senate, as both parties quickly launched themselves into finger pointing over who is to blame for the first government shutdown since 2013, with few signs that a deal was near on the major spending and immigration issues that brought about the standoff.

“Get it together,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi bluntly said to Republicans in a morning speech on the House floor, as she led a chorus from her party in blaming the President for the budgetary impasse.

“The Trump travesty continues, as it has for the last twelve months,” said Pelosi’s top lieutenant, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

But Republicans were having none of that.

“We’re about nine hours into the Schumer shutdown,” said Rep. Greg LaMalfa (R-CA) as the House convened, “which is basically Senate Democrats holding the United States, 320 million people, hostage.”

“There is no excuse for this,” said Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA).

“Democrats shut down the govt to protect illegals this week,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).

Behind the scenes, lawmakers in both parties were still hoping to cut a deal that would have the government fully open by Monday – but there was little evidence of a possible breakthrough on the broader budget and immigration issues which led to this stalemate.

Negotiations have centered on reaching a two year agreement on spending levels for the budget – as President Trump wants a sizable increase in the military’s budget – and on DACA, where Democrats were still hoping to get an agreement that would protect some 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” from being deported.

As the clock ticked toward midnight on Friday night, there were a flurry of talks on the Senate floor between Senators of both parties – not really about the specifics of the budget or DACA – but mainly about the length of any temporary funding plan for the government, and plans to vote on that hot button immigration topic.

“Since there were discussions here in earnest, in a bipartisan way, we ought to give those discussions a chance to bear fruit,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

“We should stay and work,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Senator McConnell chose to shut the government down,” referring to the GOP leader in the Senate.

But the underlying issues remain fraught with political problems, especially on immigration, where many Republicans see no direct link between funding the government and a deal on DACA and illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

“This Schumer Shutdown is absolutely ridiculous,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “It is totally irresponsible for the Democrats to use government funding as a bargaining chip.”

At the White House, there was no sign that the President was going to cave on Democratic demands on immigration, as officials accused Democrats of doing all they could to slow political momentum from a big GOP tax cut plan that was signed into law in December.

Democrats said they thought they were close to a deal with the President on Friday over DACA and other immigration issues, but that Mr. Trump backed off, again emphasizing the uncertainty that surrounds talks with the White House on major legislative issues.

Even if the Senate were to approve a bill which combined provisions on DACA and the Dreamers, along with other items on border security, most Republicans say that would have little chance in the House, where GOP lawmakers favor a much tougher approach.

One obvious difference between this shutdown and the one in 2013, is seen right here in Washington, D.C., where outdoor memorials and the Smithsonian museums were still open. Those were shut down by the Obama Administration last time, in what Republicans said was an effort to punish the GOP for a shutdown battle.