State Rep. Tyler Olson (D) hired Democratic operative Alex Youn as his campaign manager. Youn has worked in Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, including on John Edwards’ presidential campaign in 2008. Olson statement: “I’m thrilled to have someone with Alex’s talent and experience leading my team. … It’s time for a fresh approach to leadership in Iowa. I look forward to continuing to talk to voters throughout the state about my vision to begin Iowa’s next 30 years.” (Des Moines Register)
ABORTION RIGHTS FIGHT. State GOP chair A.J. Spiker attacked Olson and state Sen. Jack Hatch (D) “for standing by while a woman prayed for continued access to abortion during a political rally in the Capitol last week.” Spiker called the prayer “sick, twisted and disgusting” and and said in a statement, “If this is what Olson and Hatch think will help them in their race to defeat Terry Branstad in 2014, then it shows just how unbelievably out of touch they are with everyday Iowans and how poorly they’re going to perform come election time.” The rally’s purpose “was specifically to defend legal access to abortion.”
Hatch “was unapologetic about attending the rally, but said he and other lawmakers had no knowledge of what would be said” in the invocation. Hatch: “We certainly don’t have any power, nor should we, to restrict what a prayer is. … We were there to support the position that the medical board should follow the rules for dispersing prescription drugs as they do for dozens of other procedures through telemedicine.”
Olson: “I believe that the decision should not be made at state Capitol. It should be made between a woman, her doctor, her family, her faith community, whoever she wants to include in that. … That’s my position, it has been my position, it will be my position and I don’t speak for anybody else.” (Des Moines Register)
— Julie Sobel
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"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."
"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.