"President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history. Mr. Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer who was tapped last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation but who never developed a comfortable relationship with the president." Bolton was an outspoken advocate of military action during the George W. Bush administration, and has "called for action against Iran and North Korea."
Vulnerable Republicans planning to vote “no” on the tax reform plan Thursday include: Reps. Darrell Issa (CA-49), Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Elise Stefanik (R-21), John Faso (R-NY 19), Dan Donovan (NY-11), Lee Zeldin (NY-01) and Pete King (NY-02). But “Democrats aren’t about to give these members a free pass.The DCCC has signaled it will attack all Republicans for the tax vote, regardless of how they voted, just as it did after the House GOP’s health care vote earlier this year.” (Roll Call)
CALIFORNIA. “Eight of the state’s Republicans plan to vote for the bill, including Reps. Mimi Walters (R-45), Jeff Denham (R-10) and David Valadao (R-21) “and one is leaning toward voting yes. Four others are undecided,” including Reps. Ed Royce (R-39), Steve Knight (R-25), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-48), “and only” Issa “has said he will oppose the bill.” (Los Angeles Times)
NEW YORK. Faso said he plans to vote “no” on the bill. Meanwhile Reps. John Katko (R-24), Tom Reed (R-23) and Chris Collins (R-27) will vote for it. (Syracuse Post-Standard) Faso, Donovan, King and Zeldin held a press conference in the Capitol on Thursday to discuss their opposition. (release)
PENNSYLVANIA. Reps. Ryan Costello (R-06) and Pat Meehan (R-07) “sound like they both plan to back the Republican tax reform when it comes to a floor vote.” (Delco Daily Times)
FEELING GOOD. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05) told a group of reporters Thursday he was increasingly confident Democrats could take back the House, placing the odds at 60 percent. He’s hitting the campaign trail this weekend to stump for 2016 NV-04 candidate Susie Lee (D) in the open NV-03 seat and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis (D) in the open KS-02 seat.
Hoyer also explained his donation and support to candidates in crowded primaries: “You need to have people win the primaries who can win the generals. There’s that sense that we want to try to get the strongest general-election candidate. That is not necessarily always the strongest primary candidate.
“We make a judgment. Is there a predominantly strong candidate in the race that we think can win the general and have the best shot at winning the general. Then we think it’s a responsibility as far as to try to step in and make sure that candidate wins.” (Hotline reporting)
MORE ENDORSEMENTS. Gabby Giffords’s gun-violence prevention group endorsed four more House challengers: Lee, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ 01), 2016 nominee Angie Craig (D), and El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar (D) in the open TX-16 seat. (Refinery 29)
ON BOARD. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD Pac endorsed five new candidates: lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D) in CA-39; Mike Levin (D) in CA-49; former federal prosecutor Jay Hulings (D) in TX-23; ironworker Randy Bryce (D) in WI-01; and state Rep. Juana Matias (D) in the open MA-03. (release)
Meanwhile, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed nine openly LGBTQ Democrats, including four challengers in competitive seats: former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones in TX-23, state Rep. David Richardson in the open FL-27 seat, former State Department adviser Lauren Baer in FL-18, and 2016 nominee Angie Craig in MN-02. (release)
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"When a Russian news agency reached out to George Papadopoulos to request an interview shortly before the 2016 election," deputy communications director Bryan Lanza encouraged him to respond. "You should do it," Lanza wrote in a September 2016 email, "emphasizing the benefits of a U.S. 'partnership with Russia.'" The Trump campaign has "sought to paint the 30-year old energy consultant as a low level volunteer" in the campaign, but recently disclosed emails show that Papadopoulos had contact with "senior campaign figures" in the Trump campaign, "such as chief executive Stephen K. Bannon and adviser Michael Flynn," who encouraged him to "broker ties between Trump and top foreign officials."