U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

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President Trump is rapidly reshaping the judiciary. On this River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with guests about how Republicans are systematically filling vacancies in the federal court system with young, conservative judges.

Joining the conversation is former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa Kevin Techau and Todd Pettys of the University of Iowa College of Law. 

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Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the FBI for copies of memos that may exist documenting conversations former director James Comey had with his superiors in the Trump administration.   

That follows reports suggesting the president may have tried to influence an FBI probe.

The New York Times reports that Comey created memos regarding his interactions with the president, documenting what he perceived as improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation.    

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"Constitutional crisis" is a phrase heard a great deal in the news lately. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch about what constitutes a constitutional crisis.

Walch also discusses several instances when the U.S. government threatened to break down - during the Civil War in the 1860s, the Great Depression in the 1930s and during the Watergate crisis in the 1970s.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley says he’s not concerned about a tweet by President Donald Trump that called a federal judge in Seattle a “so-called judge.” The president was responding to a ruling by Judge James Robart that temporarily blocks the president’s executive order on immigration, a ruling Trump called “ridiculous” in that same tweet.

 

Some say Trump’s comment is an attack on the separation of powers. But Grassley, who heads the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, says he doesn’t worry about what the president says.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama this morning to discuss his nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Grassley’s committee will consider the appointment before the entire Senate votes.

In 1986, Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship due to allegations of racially insensitive remarks, some of which he says were taken out of context, and others he denies. Grassley was on the Judiciary Committee at the time, and voted in favor of Sessions, though he says he couldn’t recall the hearing.

Despite criticism he’s keeping details of his schedule private to avoid protestors, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t changed protocol in 36 years.

Iowa’s senior Republican senator heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has been highly criticized for refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

The senate is currently on recess, so Grassley is back in Iowa meeting with constituents. The senator has not made his full schedule public, which Democrats say is an attempt to elude unhappy constituents. 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

The Des Moines and Waterloo offices of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley are now in possession of roughly 600 toy, candy, and corn cob pipes.

Gage Skidmore

With the 114th Congress sworn in, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley takes the reins of the Senate Judiciary Committee as chairman.

Gregory Hauenstein / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode

Iowa Congressman and Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley has apologized for comments he made at a January fundraiser in Texas. 

"If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice ... on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Braley said. "Or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee."

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

While support to reduce prison sentences has been growing, Iowa State University sociologist Matt DeLisi recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that for certain offenders this would be a mistake.