Vice President Mike Pence is expected to hold a rally in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday to push the Republican health care bill, which is notably in Sen. Rand Paul’s home state. Paul has been critical of the bill. (Politico) Liberal groups including Our Revolution have been holding a series of rallies opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act since January.
“The rolling crisis of the Trump presidency has … a certain slice of influential liberals say that at this point, they’d just sleep easier under President Mike Pence.” (BuzzFeed)
TRAVEL BAN CHALLENGE. “A federal judge in Hawaii agreed Wednesday to fast-track consideration of the state’s lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration, setting the stage for a quick initial ruling on the administration’s new effort to restrict U.S. travel from six Muslim-majority nations. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson agreed to hear oral arguments March 15.” (Wall Street Journal)
RUSSIA PROBES. “U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, came under scrutiny from officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department partly because of at least two trips he took to the U.S. during the presidential campaign.” (Politico)
“The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wants to speak with the British author of an unsubstantiated report alleging the Russian government had compromising material on President Trump. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that he was ‘more than willing’ to meet author Christopher Steele.” (Washington Post)
“James Comey said Wednesday at a Boston College conference on cybersecurity that he plans to serve his entire 10-year term as FBI director.” (Politico)
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) “has been offered the job of U.S. ambassador to Russia and is in the process of submitting paperwork to accept the position.” (Politico)
TRUMP BIZ. “The owners of a restaurant in Washington, DC, are suing…Trump, claiming that his eponymous hotel — which features a steakhouse, a bar, and other dining options — has an unfair and unlawful edge in the market. The lawsuit, filed in DC Superior Court on Thursday by the owners of Cork Wine Bar, alleges that Trump’s hotel not only competes for general customers, but specifically for clients seeking to do business with and influence US government and elected officials.” (BuzzFeed)
“Ivanka Trump may have shown that any publicity is good publicity when it comes to selling fashion. Despite a boycott and a decision by Nordstrom to no longer carry the brand, Ivanka Trump’s fashion line soared in online sales of individual items last month, according to a major e-commerce site.” (USA Today)
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"Two days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian officials offered a string of assertions about what the two leaders had achieved. 'Important verbal agreements' were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday, including preservation of the New Start and INF agreements," and cooperation in Syria.
"Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election. The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation. Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed."
"The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has opened a formal investigation into a real estate deal involving a foundation established by Ryan Zinke and developers including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar, which was first reported by Politico, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Wednesday."
With preparations for the 2020 Census underway, President Trump has nominated a director of the agency. Steven Dillingham currently serves as director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning at the Peace Corps. Previously, he served as Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Among his challenges will be navigating the thorny political issue of including a citizenship question on the survey.