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Loretta Lynch To Get A Senate Vote: The Week In Politics


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week in Washington, D.C. - a letter to Tehran with a long list of signers, a Secret Service car breaks the tape, and Hillary Clinton told a press conference she prefers just one Blackberry. NPR's Ron Elving joins us.

Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: First, this latest Secret Service mishap. What do we know what happened?

ELVING: Apologies if this sounds like a little bit of the start of a joke, but, two Secret Service agents walk out of a bar. They've been there for a late-night sendoff for a colleague who's retiring. And they go back to the White House to get their personal cars, and they're driving a Secret Service agency vehicle, and they break through some police tape there and collide with a barrier. And the police tape was there because there was a live investigation of a suspicious package going on. Now, the guards on duty suspected - well, they were going to arrest these two senior Secret Service agents, but their supervisor told them not to and sent the two men home without testing them for their relative sobriety or anything else. And this is going to be the first big test for the agency's brand-new boss, Joseph Clancy.

SIMON: Former Secretary of State Clinton held a news conference to address the uproar of her handling of emails while at State. She said it was easier just to have one device and her server back in Chappaqua is protected by, in fact, the Secret Service. Is this issue behind her after that press conference?

ELVING: No. Experience teaches us that Clinton privacy issues have a way of persisting, sometimes for years. This particular one is the subject of investigation by three different Congressional committees, they're all talking about calling her to testify. There's a lot of interest around these 30,000-odd emails that she says she did not turn over to the State Department when asked to do so, she says they were private. And you know, a lot of people have trouble believing that and others want to know how she alone can decide which emails are job-related and which ones she can withhold and conceivably destroy. And Republicans in particular are thinking some of those emails could be important to any number of foreign policy controversies - Benghazi and others - so, this will be around a while.

SIMON: Forty-seven Republican senators signed a letter to the government of Iran while the U.S. is in negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran. By week's end, even some conservative commentators thought that had been the wrong note to strike. Will it affect those nuclear talks?

ELVING: It could. And here's a name a lot of our listeners might not have heard yet - Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He's been in the Senate about 10 weeks now and he's very much opposed to what he's heard about the deal. So he circulated an open letter among his colleagues telling the Iranians - it's addressed to the government in Iran - that any deal that they might make with this American administration would not be binding on Congress or on the next president. And that's a highly unusual move for a group of legislators to actually enter into international talks in this fashion. It certainly is true that Congress could weigh in and refuse to lift sanctions. It is certainly true that the next president might have a different view. And this is not a full-fledged treaty, which is why the Congress is upset that the president has been negotiating this but does not intend to bring it back to them for ratification.

SIMON: Loretta Lynch will be confirmed as attorney general this week, do you think?

ELVING: She has 50 votes right now for confirmation, assuming all 46 Democrats and independents will vote for her, plus the four Republicans who have said they would. There are also half a dozen other Republicans who are officially uncommitted but seem like good prospects to vote to confirm. And if need be, Vice President Biden can drop by in his constitutional capacity to break the tie. So right now, we would expect her to make it and probably without that extra boost.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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