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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"The Senate was expected to be back in session at noon, while House lawmakers were told to return to work for a 9 a.m. session. Mr. Trump on Friday had canceled plans to travel to his private resort on Palm Beach, Fla., where a celebration had been planned for Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office."
"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."