Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

Posts by Hannah Hess

8 Posts

March 21, 2014

Senate’s Top Law Enforcement Officer Confirms Progress on Investigation Into CIA Spying

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said Friday that his staff has “absolutely” begun investigating the controversy involving the CIA and the Intelligence Committee.

The investigation — disclosed by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a letter sent to CIA Director John O. Brennan late Wednesday — will be one of Gainer’s last tasks before he leaves Capitol Hill for the private sector at the end of April.

Gainer confirmed during a phone interview with CQ Roll Call that his office is proceeding with instructions to review computers used by committee staffers to investigate the CIA’s interrogation techniques and detainee practices during the George W. Bush administration.

“Some of it will be done in-house and some of it will be contracted out,” he said of the investigation. “It’s not the first time that we’ve done forensic work on a computer, remember … that’s a large part of our organization.”

As sergeant-at-arms, Gainer serves as the chamber’s top law enforcement officer, overseeing all aspects of security, including cyber threats.

“But, there are experts who do this day-in and day-out, and there is no doubt that we’ll get help from others on this,” he continued.

Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., first revealed her suspicions in a stirring March 11 floor speech, in which she alleged the CIA had interfered at the secret facility set up in Northern Virginia for the committee’s investigation.

Reid has also raised concerns about the broader implications of the CIA’s actions, a fact he mentioned in his letter.

Gainer said he spends a “substantial portion” of each day on security issues — coordinating with the House, the Capitol Police and other federal agencies — and this investigation is his newest task.

March 20, 2014

Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer to Leave the Hill

gainer032014 445x284 Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer to Leave the Hill

(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

After more than a decade of service on Capitol Hill, the Senate’s top law enforcement officer is stepping down.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer will depart this spring, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  announced Thursday afternoon. The Nevada Democrat appointed Gainer in late 2006. He previously served as chief of the Capitol Police, a post he’d held since 2002. Gainer is the only person ever to have held both jobs.

“Terry has spent 47 years of his life dedicated to law enforcement at the federal, state, and city level and throughout his years of military service,” Reid said in a statement on the Illinois native who served in Vietnam and spent the early years of his law enforcement career with the Chicago Police Department.

“I know he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Irene, their six children, and 14 grandchildren, and also to pursuing private sector opportunities,” Reid continued. “Terry is one of the finest public servants I have ever met and I am grateful for all he has done for our community.”

Gainer’s seven year tenure make him the longest-serving sergeant-at-arms since World War II. He previously served on the Illinois State Police and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Gainer was also second in command of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.

The longtime public servant did not immediately respond to inquiries from CQ Roll Call about his future ambitions.

In the statement announcing his departure, Gainer said “serving the Senate family and the Capitol community has been a rare privilege” and noted that the SAA organization “continues to exceed expectations.”

Replacing Gainer will be his deputy of seven years, Drew Willison, who previously served as a senior staffer on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Former Secret Service Assistant Director Michael Stenger will be appointed as the next deputy sergeant-at-arms. He has been with the office since 2011.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:33 p.m.
Harry Reid

Reid Features in Gray Campaign Mailer Reminding Voters ‘Who Stood Up for Us’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plays a starring role in a campaign mailer arriving in District of Columbia mailboxes.

A snapshot of the Nevada Democrat standing shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Vincent Gray graces a flyer encouraging D.C. voters to give the mayor another four years at the helm of the city. It captures the tight-lipped scowl that appeared on Reid’s face when Gray crashed an Oct. 9 press conference that Senate Democrats were holding on the Capitol steps in the midst of this fall’s federal government shutdown.

gray 251x335 Reid Features in Gray Campaign Mailer Reminding Voters Who Stood Up for Us

A snapshot of the mailer.

The mailer, paid for by Vince Gray 2014, tells voters to “remember who stood up for us” when they cast their ballots in the April 1 Democratic primary. Full story

December 31, 2013

Loskarn Indictment Delayed, Plea Bargain Possible

Faced with a January 2014 deadline to obtain a grand jury indictment on child pornography charges, the government and lawyers for Jesse Ryan Loskarn, the fired chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have agreed to a 30-day delay.

Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola approved the postponement, requested because of the holiday season and the fact that “much of the forensic work has not yet been completed,” according to court documents. The deadline to bring an indictment on charges of possession and distribution was moved to Feb. 10.

The motion for extension also suggests the parties to the high-profile suit are pursuing a plea bargain. They “intend to explore the possibility of a pre-indictment disposition,” the motion states. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:48 a.m.

December 11, 2013

Alexander Chief of Staff Arrested Amid Child Porn Allegations (Video)

onthemove004 1122111 445x292 Alexander Chief of Staff Arrested Amid Child Porn Allegations (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | Federal law enforcement agents escorted Sen. Lamar Alexander’s D.C.-based chief of staff from his Southeast Washington home in handcuffs on Wednesday.

Agents arrested Ryan Loskarn “based on probable cause for possession and distribution of child pornography charges,” Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said in an email. As of early evening, Loskarn remained in federal custody with a court hearing expected to be scheduled for Thursday at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. Full story

October 10, 2013

Ohio Clock Furloughed

The Senate’s stately Ohio clock has fallen victim to the federal shutdown.

Its hands froze in place at 12:14 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon and won’t be ticking again until the furloughed Capitol Hill workforce is allowed to return to the job.

Ohio Clock Midnight 27 093013 330x237 Ohio Clock Furloughed

Journalists take photos of the Ohio Clock shortly after midnight on Oct. 1, the beginning of the shutdown. The clock has not been wound, thanks to the shutdown, as the winders have been furloughed. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

Winding of the richly grained mahogany timepiece, which has stood in the main corridor just outside the Senate chamber since 1859, falls to a team in the Office of the Senate Curator. That staff has been furloughed, the office of the Secretary of the Senate confirmed. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:04 p.m.

October 5, 2013

Members Just ‘Showing Off’ by Not Furloughing Staff, Says Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knocked fellow members of Congress for “showing off” with their individual decisions not to furlough their staffers during the federal government shutdown.

“Some members of Congress are showing off, ‘I’m not closing my office,’” Reid said on the Senate floor Saturday, referring to the staff furlough decisions left up to each member since the Oct. 1 shutdown.

Reid has told much of his staff to stay home. “I’ve closed my office because [I] don’t think my employees should be treated any different than someone that’s working for the Bureau of Land Management or the FBI,” he said. “They’re closed.” Full story

October 3, 2013

Female Suspect Killed in Capitol Incident, Injured Officer Airlifted (Updated)

shooting001 100313 445x299 Female Suspect Killed in Capitol Incident, Injured Officer Airlifted (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Oct. 4, 10:51 a.m. | A female suspect was killed by police after a car chase from the White House to the Capitol, law enforcement officials confirmed Thursday evening.

A Capitol Police officer was injured in a crash with the suspect’s car and airlifted to an area hospital. Bryan Carter, a 23-year veteran of force, was treated and released from MedStarWashington Hospital Center, by 9:30 p.m. Thursday. A Secret Service agent was also injured, officials reported, but no details on that agent’s condition were given.

A child who was in the suspect’s car was not harmed, but was taken to the hospital, officials said at a news conference Thursday evening. The one-year-old female child rescued from the suspect’s vehicle by a Capitol Police officer sustained no injuries. She was examined, then released from a local hospital and placed in protective custody.

Capitol Shootings 34 100313 445x283 Female Suspect Killed in Capitol Incident, Injured Officer Airlifted (Updated)

A car chase that started at the White House ended on Capitol Hill in front of the Hart Senate Office building with Capitol Hill police discharging their guns. Here police evacuate a small child who was in one of the cars involved in the high speed chase into the Hart building to the medical facility. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Four road closures remained in effect overnight as the investigation continued on the northern side of Capitol Hill. Roads were reopened in time for morning traffic.

The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the effort, with support from the Capitol Police, Secret Service, and the FBI.

“Based on preliminary findings, this was an isolated incident with no nexus to terrorism,” the Capitol Police said in a Thursday night statement. “The response to this incident was swift and our established security procedures worked. We would like to commend the men and women from the [Capitol Police] for their bravery.”

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters that shots were fired at two separate locations outside the Capitol Thursday, as police attempted to stop the woman, who Lanier said tried to breach security at both the White House and on the Capitol grounds. Police officers fired on the suspect’s car near Garfield Circle, but the fatal shots appear to have been delivered when after the car crashed on the 100 block of Maryland Avenue NE. The car chase started at 15th and E streets outside the White House, Lanier confirmed.

Lanier said it was important to note that security measures at both the White House and the Capitol “worked.” Amid questions about whether the suspect’s actions were accidental in nature, Lanier said she couldn’t say for certain but was “pretty confident this is not an accident.”

Law enforcement officials declined to give any details about the suspect’s identity, and Lanier noted they were still investigating the incident and would have to notify the woman’s next of kin before releasing her name. Some news outlets reported that the car the woman was driving had Connecticut license plates.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer earlier confirmed that the Capitol Police officer did not appear to have life-threatening injuries. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has the lead on the investigation, in cooperation with the Capitol Police, the Secret Service and the Park Police.

Gainer told CQ Roll Call that “the woman did have a child in the car. Child was not injured. I don’t know the age. The child has been taken to a local hospital.”

Gainer said there is no profile on the female suspect yet.

“The great news is, it’s not terrorism-related and what caused the woman to do whatever she did down at the White House, I’m not sure. Why the Secret Service ultimately chased her, I mean they were trying to make an arrest and she circled the Peace and Garfield Circles a couple times, and then headed up Constitution. That’s east-bound on Constitution where ultimately there was shots fired from … we’re trying to figure that out, but the Capitol Police, uniformed Secret Service. She was hit. She’s been taken to the hospital,” Gainer said.

Asked if there was any evidence the woman was trying to get into the Capitol, Gainer said, “I don’t know that. She couldn’t get into the Capitol because there’s barricades up.”

The Capitol officer who was injured crashed into a barricade while joining the pursuit.

“On something like this, we begin the lockdown, determine what’s going on, pop the barriers. We gave directions to pop the barriers. The officers down there kept the barriers down for some period of time to let the cars through,” Gainer said.

The injured Capitol Police officer was coming from the north on Louisiana Avenue, Gainer said, and made a left-hand turn to go east on Constitution Avenue. “Just as he came around the corner the barrier was popped,” Gainer said. “All that stuff happens very quick.”

shooting007 100313 445x298 Female Suspect Killed in Capitol Incident, Injured Officer Airlifted (Updated)

U.S. Capitol Police inspect a police car after a shooting and subsequent police car crash on Constitution Avenue and 1st. Street, NW. The officer was injured in the car crash. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The officer’s car clipped the barricade and sustained a lot of damage, Gainer said.

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