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Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief

Alex Leary

Alex Leary is the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times. He previously worked in the Times' state capital bureau, and before that covered local politics, environmental issues and law enforcement. His career in journalism began at the Valley News in New Hampshire.

Phone: (202) 306-4807


Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @LearyReports

  1. Trump's executive order on offshore oil drilling sets up clash with Florida


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump acted Friday to expand offshore oil drilling, a move that could affect Florida, which seven years ago this month reeled from the BP oil catastrophe. Bipartisan opposition from state leaders was already building.

    The "America First Offshore Energy Strategy" could turn back bans in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as parts of the Gulf of Mexico....

  2. The art of no deal: Trump lacking major ones in first 100 days

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — As he entered the race for president, Donald Trump pitched himself as the ultimate dealmaker.

    "Our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now," he said. "We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal."

    During the campaign, Trump promised to use business prowess to cut through the Washington morass and quickly deliver on trade, taxes and health care. There would be a "great, great wall," paid for by Mexico....

  3. Trump retreats to Mar-a-Lago over and over, but at what cost?

    State Roundup

    PALM BEACH — A light, warm breeze rolled off the ocean a block away. The pianist at Café L'Europe, a standard poodle at his feet, entertained a capacity crowd, dressed in blazers and pastels, buoyant with champagne. Out front, black and red Ferraris were lined up with a vintage Bentley and a Rolls.

    A typical Friday night in Palm Beach, the winding down of "season."

    Amid the luxury and esprit de corps, one could overlook the surreal: Six minutes down the road, the 45th president of the United States was decompressing after a high-stakes meeting with his Chinese counterpart, a summit jolted by missile strikes against Syria....

  4. Sean Spicer's daily press briefings are must-see TV drama in Washington



    “Two minutes" someone shouts, and a hush settles over the room, jammed with reporters.

    Soon White House press secretary Sean Spicer steps to the podium with a cheery "good afternoon" and lighthearted crack about a Politico article chronicling his "curious habit" of using the adjective "phenomenal" to describe things that, in truth, aren't going well.

    Things quickly deteriorate into a familiar place: Spicer lacerating the news media and reporters blasting him with questions — combat that has made the daily press briefing must-see TV, at times beating ratings for General Hospital and other soaps, a spectacle that President Donald Trump himself tunes into....

  5. Marco Rubio says Russians tried to hack his presidential campaign team twice

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio revealed Thursday that apparent Russian hackers twice targeted his former presidential campaign team — the latest coming this week — adding new intrigue to the drama gripping Washington.

    "In July of 2016, shortly after I announced that I would seek re-election to the United States Senate, former members of my presidential campaign team, who had access to the internal information of my presidential campaign, were targeted by IP addresses with an unknown location within Russia. That effort was unsuccessful," Rubio said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing....

  6. Meet the Freedom Caucus, the group that dared to say no to President Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Still livid over the collapse of the Obamacare replacement, President Donald Trump jumped on Twitter and shook Washington out of bed Tuesday.

    "The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," Trump wrote in one of his signature late-night attacks. "After so many bad years they were ready for a win!"

    Before Friday, when the bill was pulled from a vote, the Freedom Caucus was little known outside Washington — a small, raucous coalition of far-right conservatives who, unhappy that parts of the Affordable Care Act were maintained, insisted on more changes until Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan quit negotiating....

  7. With GOP health care bill teetering, Florida Rep. Dennis Ross worries failure will splinter party

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Amid the bustle of afternoon votes, Rep. Dennis Ross came bounding around the corner with news. "We're getting closer. Neal Dunn is now on board," he said, referring to a fellow Florida Republican House member.

    Ross and other vote wranglers have been furiously tracking support for the Obamacare replacement bill. More accurately, they've been sizing up the opposition, which is coming from factions within the Republican Party. Concerns focus on policy disputes and fears that the bill is being rushed; it passed through key committees even before the traditional cost analysis....

  8. Florida Republicans' opposition to health care plan shows GOP divide

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ron DeSantis cut different profiles in the Republican Party, a veteran with moderate leanings and a relative newcomer who is deeply conservative, but together they represent the threat facing the GOP plan to ditch the Affordable Care Act.

    Both oppose the legislation, which House Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing through despite growing resistance from factions within the party....

  9. Long before Trump hired him, Steve Bannon was making deals and kindling political fires in Florida

    State Roundup

    SARASOTA — Steady weekend visits to the "Winter White House" in Palm Beach have solidified President Donald Trump's status as a Floridian. But it's not just Trump who is adding a new dimension to the state's storied political history.

    Chief adviser Steve Bannon — the rumpled former executive of Breitbart News, revered as a brilliant strategist and reviled as a xenophobic champion of the extreme right — was shopping for a home in Sarasota last year before Trump enlisted him to fix the campaign....

  10. Sen. Marco Rubio concerned about Trump's proposed budget cuts

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's proposed defense spending increase doesn't go far enough, but he expressed concern about cuts to other areas of the budget and said changes to Social Security and Medicare should be on the table.

    "I don't expect you're going to hear that tonight," the Florida Republican said hours before Trump's speech to Congress, "but I think in the months to come as the reality sets in, we'll have to accept that."...

  11. As Trump is learning, it's not so easy to reject the president's paycheck


    The government owes Donald Trump.

    Right about now, the 45th president is due to receive his first paycheck, part of a $400,000 annual salary delivered in monthly installments.

    But the billionaire said during the campaign that he wouldn't take the pay. Is he backsliding on a promise?

    The White House says no, but things are more complicated.

    "He is required to get a paycheck but will be giving it back to (the) treasury or donating," spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in email, adding that the staff was trying to determine the legal process to do so....

  12. Former Rep. David Jolly soaks up exposure as Republican critical of Trump

    State Roundup

    If you've been near cable TV news lately, it's hard to miss former U.S. Rep. David Jolly.

    Monday, Jolly began on the set of CNN's New Day and that night was on MSNBC's Last Word before ending with an interview by Brian Williams.

    On Tuesday, Jolly taped an interview with Larry King and was on Alan Colmes' Fox News radio show. Another MSNBC "hit" is to come later this week....

  13. Back in Florida, Craig Fugate is happy to leave the next disaster to a new FEMA chief

    State Roundup

    Naturally, disaster threatened North Florida as Craig Fugate returned home after seven years in Washington running the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The tornadoes last month passed, and Fugate got on with decompressing.

    "It's 70 degrees, the azaleas are blooming and I'm in my hammock," he said by phone from Gainesville last week. "When we get done talking, I'll walk inside and my wife and I will have dinner in our home. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do next."...

  14. Right and left pressure Florida Sen. Bill Nelson over Supreme Court nominee decision

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is about to face intense pressure from a well-funded conservative coalition to vote for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, a decision that will likely resonate into Nelson's 2018 re-election campaign.

    Proponents are targeting Nelson and nine other senators from states Trump won in November who are also up for re-election — an effort that will include advertising and mailers, petitions and phone banks....

  15. Chaotic start to Trump presidency roils Florida

    State Roundup

    At first there were small flashes of discord, an unsurprising coda to a bitter election.

    As Donald Trump was sworn in Jan. 20, a couple hundred people took to the streets of Miami. "Putin won it," read a sign as Back in the U.S.S.R. played. A few dozen protesters gathered in Tampa.

    The following day, the crowds exploded. In Miami, 10,000 people showed up for a women's march. Twice as many assembled in St. Petersburg, the largest demonstration in city history. As rain fell in Tallahassee, 14,000 marched. Thousands more marched in Jacksonville, Sarasota and Orlando....