“As national Republicans dig in to defend their majorities in Congress in the midterm elections, party leaders across the country have grown anxious about losses on a different front: state legislatures.” Republican “dominance appears to be fraying, strained by the same forces taxing Republicans in Congress. National strategists in both parties see the landscape of legislative races expanding, especially in areas around major cities where President Trump has stirred an insurrection among liberals, and college-educated voters and white women have recoiled from Republicans.”
Pennsylvania state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R), on the competitive races in his state: “It looks like it’s going to be a war zone.” (New York Times)
MEMO. Urging President Trump “not to interfere in” White House Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “investigation, four Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee dismissed on Sunday the idea that the memo’s criticism of how the FBI handled certain surveillance applications undermines the special counsel’s work. Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Chris Stewart (Utah), Will Hurd (Tex.) and Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) represented the committee on the morning political talk shows.
“Gowdy, who helped draft the memo, said Trump should not fire Rosenstein, and he rejected the idea that the document has a bearing on the investigation.”
“The four Republicans walked a careful line on the GOP document, which alleges that the Justice Department abused its powers by obtaining a warrant for surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page using information from a source who was biased against Trump. Their comments echoed those of” Speaker Paul Ryan, “who supported the memo’s release but insists that its findings do not impugn Mueller or Rosenstein. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), whose actions have been at the center of the debate over the memo, did not give interviews Sunday.” (Washington Post)
DREAMERS. “As lawmakers grasp for a solution for young undocumented immigrants, one option is a temporary extension—perhaps one year—of their legal protections paired with a little bit of cash for border security.
“‘That may be where we’re headed because, you know, Congress is pretty dysfunctional,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the few to publicly acknowledge the possibility of a temporary fix. ‘That’d be a real loss. But that’s probably where we’re headed, OK?’
“Some senators are already deriding a yearlong patch as ‘misguided,’ a ‘Plan Z’ and a proposal that would keep immigrants ‘in fear.’ But lawmakers have only until March 5 to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program under … Trump’s deadline.
“And in a Congress that has routinely struggled to keep the lights on, at least some lawmakers say a temporary fix for Dreamers might be all but inevitable. Lawmakers return to Washington this week with another government shutdown looming after Feb. 8 and a deal on Dreamers still far out of reach—a reality that could make a DACA stopgap increasingly appealing.” (Politico)
SUPER SKIP. “Several Philadelphia Eagles players will skip out on any White House celebration this year following their first-ever Super Bowl win Sunday.” (Politico)
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Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting. In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg."
"The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry. Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: 'I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!'"