“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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"Special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry. This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China." At issue specifically is his quest for financing help on the beleaguered 666 Fifth Avenue building.
The indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."
"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."
"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "