The staffs of Democratic U.S. senators, who include several running for president, became slightly more diverse in 2018. Seven Democratic senators reported staffs that were comprised of 50 percent or more who identified as “non-Caucasian”.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s office released new numbers, using percentages to highlight the growing diversity of Senate staff members. Raw numbers for each senator’s staff were requested, but could not be provided, making it difficult to draw direct comparisons with the staffs of previous years or among the Senate staffs within any given year.
The two black U.S. senators running to represent the Democrats in next year’s presidential election, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, reported staffs that were 70 percent and 61 percent “non-Caucasian”, respectively.
Harris came in at the top of the list with the most diverse staff among Democrats in the Senate, according to the data. Seventy percent of Harris’ staff identify as “non-Caucasian”, with 33 percent who identify as Latino, 26 percent identified as black, and 12 percent identified as Asian or Pacific Islander.
Booker ranked third among Democratic senators with 61 percent of his staff identifying as “non-Caucasian”. Twenty-seven percent of his staff identified as Latino and 30 percent of his staff identified as Black.
Ahead of the 2020 presidential election and the increasing reliance of the Democratic Party on minority voters, the party has focused greater attention on diversity.
In a statement released by Schumer’s office, he said “Last November, Americans elected the most diverse Congress in the history of our country. I believe that alongside our newfound historic diversity in Congress, there must be a diverse group of staffers who work in the Congress, from staff assistants to chiefs of staff.”
Among the other Democratic presidential hopefuls, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had the least diverse staff, measured in racial and ethnic identity, with 28 percent of his staff saying they were “non-Caucasian”. Forty-eight percent of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s staff said they were “non-Caucasian”, 46 percent of the staff for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York reported that they were “non-Caucasian”, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota reported 38 percent “non-Caucasians” in her staff.
These numbers, however, may be reflective of the senators’ home states. Sanders, for instance, is from a state that is almost 93 percent non-Hispanic white, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and Minnesota is 81 percent non-Hispanic white. By comparison, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s state, Massachusetts, is 73 percent non-Hispanic white and Gillibrand’s state, New York, is 56 percent non-Hispanic white.
Harris also had the most Latinos, as a percentage, on her staff compared to her colleagues running for president, with 33 percent of her staff saying they were Latino. Booker’s staff reported that 27 percent identified as Latino and 21 percent of Gillibrand’s staff did so. Among those running for president, Klobuchar reported the fewest percentage of Latinos on their staff, at four percent.
Harris also had the second highest number of staff members who identified as LGBTQ, at 19 percent. Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada had the highest percentage of staffers who identified as LGBTQ at 24 percent. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who identifies as bi-sexual, reported 18 percent of her staff identified as LGBTQ. Every Democratic senator reported that LGBTQ members were represented in their office, with Sens. Robert Menéndez of New Jersey and Klobuchar reporting the fewest members of the LGBTQ community on their staffs at 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
Among the other senators running for president, Sanders came in second with 16 percent of his staff identifying as LGBTQ and Booker with 11 percent. Gillibrand’s office reported 9 percent LGBTQ and Warren’s office reported 7 percent. This year was the first year in the program that the Democratic Diversity Initiative staff survey asked for LGBTQ status.
Regarding gender, the diversity picture changes with Sanders and Gillibrand ranked the highest among their fellow candidates with 67 percent of their staff identifying as female. No data was provided for transgender respondents, specifically, except for the sexual orientation question asking if they identified with any of the LGBTQ status groups.
Most of the Democratic senators had a majority of staffers who identified as female. Among the 47 Democratic senators in the data set, 10 senators reported fewer than 50 percent of their staff as female, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California coming in last overall among all the Democratic senators with a staff that was 38 percent female.
Among the candidates running for president, Klobuchar was the only candidate with less than 50 percent female staff. Harris’ staff reported 63 percent were female and 59 percent of both Booker’s and Warren’s staff members said they were female.
The diversity of staff members has received greater scrutiny as Democrats represent an increasingly diverse constituency. Research suggests that diverse staffs tend to be more attentive to minority issues even in times of decline in attention around the nation.
Gender representation has been seen as a important factor in passing legislation that advanced women’s interests.
“The more our congressional staffers look, sound, and have diverse lived experiences, the stronger our democracy will be,” Schumer said.
Who is Robert Mueller, the man behind the report on Trump?
He’s a Republican born into a wealthy family in New York who attended a tony prep school, graduated an Ivy League university, is known for his trademark suits and hair — and isn’t someone you want to be on the wrong side of.
Robert Swan Mueller III is also the man behind the most highly anticipated document in the country — the special counsel report, submitted to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, on whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was involved with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Pressure is unlikely to rattle Mueller, 74, who was named special counsel in May 2017. A decorated Vietnam War hero, he was the second longest-serving FBI director in the history of the agency, which he took over one week before the 9/11 terror attacks.
Author Garrett Graff, who has interviewed the media-averse Mueller at length over the years, told The Guardian he is “probably America’s straightest arrow, very by-the-book, very professional.”
In a 2017 speech at his granddaughter’s high school graduation, Mueller exhorted the students to live their lives with “integrity, patience and humility.”
“Whatever we do, we must act with honesty and with integrity, and regardless of your chosen career, you’re only as good as your word,” Mueller told the graduates. “If you are not honest, your reputation will suffer, and once lost a good reputation can never, ever be regained.”
Mueller was born in New York City in 1944, and raised outside of Philadelphia. His father was a World War II Navy veteran and an executive at DuPont.
“A lie was the worst sin” in his household, Mueller once told Graff. “The one thing you didn’t do was to give anything less than the truth to my mother and father.”
He attended Princeton, where he said he was inspired to enlist in the Marines by a classmate who had been killed in the conflict. Mueller’s first attempt to sign up was unsuccessful because of an injured knee. It took him a year to rehab the injury — time he also used to earn a master’s degree in international relations and marry high school sweetheart Ann Standish, a teacher. He was then given the green light to go into officer training at Quantico, Virginia.
His success there got him sent to elite Army Ranger training before he was shipped off to Vietnam as a Marine lieutenant and rifle platoon leader in 1968. He was awarded several commendations, including one for rescuing a wounded Marine under heavy enemy fire, and another for holding his position and fighting on even after he’d been shot through the leg.
“Although seriously wounded during the firefight, he resolutely maintained his position and, ably directing the fire of his platoon, was instrumental in defeating the North Vietnamese Army force,” the Navy commendation read.
He left the Marines after being placed on desk duty following his combat tour, but still considers those three years the most important of his life.
“The lessons I learned as a Marine have stayed with me for more than 40 years,” he told his granddaughter’s class. “The value of teamwork, sacrifice, discipline — life lessons I could not have learned in quite the same way elsewhere.”
Mueller became a prosecutor in 1976 after graduating law school and doing a brief stint in private practice.
He rose through the ranks at U.S. attorney’s offices in California and Boston before landing at the Justice Department, where he was involved in high-profile prosecutions of the bombers in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 attack over Lockerbie, Scotland, and of the mob boss John Gotti.
He was nominated as FBI director by President George W. Bush, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
He was sworn in on Sept. 4, 2001 — one week before the country was hit with the deadliest terror attack in history, coordinated passenger jetliner attacks that killed thousands in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Mueller said in a briefing in the days after the attack that Bush asked him, “What is the FBI doing to prevent the next terrorist attack?”
“That was the question that was asked on that day that I did not have an answer to,” Mueller recalled in a 2014 speech. And he said he made it the FBI’s main mission.
“No longer could our metric be the number of arrests, number of indictments, number of convictions,” he said. “It was answering that one question.”
There has not been a large-scale terrorist attack in the country since.
Mueller and then-acting Attorney General James Comey nearly quit their jobs in protest in 2004, when White House officials quietly reauthorized a secret post-9/11 domestic surveillance program against the recommendations of the Justice Department. The pair took their concerns directly to Bush, who ordered the program restructured, Comey later told the Senate.
Mueller’s 10-year term was extended for two years by President Barack Obama and a unanimous Senate vote. He was succeeded by Comey and returned to private practice as a partner at the law firm of WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. Among his clients in the reported $3.4 million a year job were Facebook, Apple and the National Football League.
He continued living at the longtime Georgetown home he shares with his wife of 52 years. They have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.
Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, and told NBC News’ Lester Holt two days later that he’d done so in part because of his frustration over the Russia investigation.
On May 16, Trump interviewed Mueller about coming back to his old job. A day later, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named Mueller as special counsel in charge of the Russia probe.
While Trump has belittled Mueller as “a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue” who’s running a “witch hunt” of an investigation, Mueller and his team have not responded publicly to the president’s criticisms.
He once told Graff the importance with which he views self-control.
“I’ve always made my bed and I’ve always shaved, even in Vietnam in the jungle. You’ve put money in the bank in terms of discipline,” Mueller told him. “Once you think about it — do it.”
Mueller felt Vietnam had prepared him for anything.
“You see a lot, and every day after is a blessing,” he said in 2008. “A lot is going to come your way, but it’s not going to be the same intensity.”
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Nadler says Mueller should ignore DOJ ‘cover-up’ efforts on testimony
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said on Tuesday that former special counsel Robert Mueller should ignore Justice Department attempts to stifle his highly anticipated congressional testimony, referring to their efforts as “part of a cover-up.”
On Monday, Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinscheimer wrote a letter instructing Mueller not to provide any testimony regarding the redacted portions of his report. Mueller had already said he would not go beyond the content contained within his more than 440-page report during his public testimony.
The letter also stated that “any testimony must remain within the boundaries of your public report because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege.”
Nadler told CNN Tuesday that he didn’t believe that letter was an impediment to Mueller’s testimony, adding that the instruction to do so is “a part of the cover-up of the administration to keep information away from the American people.”
“But I think it’s not going to have a real impact,” he said.
Asked if Mueller must comply with the letter, Nadler said the former special counsel does not.
“He doesn’t work for them,” Nadler said. “And that letter asks things that are beyond the power of the agency to ask even if he still worked there.”
Mueller will testify Wednesday in separate sessions before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. In May, Mueller said if he were to testify before Congress that “testimony from this office would not go beyond our report.”
“We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself,” he added. “The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
A spokesman for Mueller, Jim Popkin, told NBC News on Monday that the former special counsel will give a brief opening statement before offering the entire report as his full statement for the record.
A Democratic House Intelligence Committee aide told NBC News last week that Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., does not “subscribe” to the belief that Mueller is required to “stay within the four corners” of the report.
But a Democratic House Judiciary aide also told NBC News last week that even if Mueller doesn’t go beyond the report, “we think that limitation … can be worked through because there really is such strong language throughout the report even if they didn’t bring it all together in a way that connects it all, to the to the ultimate conclusion.”
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