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GOP senators recommend FBI probe of Trump 'dossier' author Steele

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Two Republican senators have recommended which the FBI pursue a criminal investigation against Christopher Steele – this writer of the disputed Trump-Russia dossier – for the purpose they described as evidence that they made false statements to federal investigators.

"I cannot take lightly generating a referral for criminal investigation. But, because would with any credible proof a criminal offense unearthed while in our investigations, I\’m obliged to secure that information along on the Justice Department for appropriate review,\” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said in the joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

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The senators did not provide public evidence to substantiate their request, nevertheless they noted they sent a "classified memorandum" to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray containing the foundation within their request.

The request isn\’t going to measure the validity of your Steele dossier, nor can it constitute a criminal allegation. "The referral is made for further investigation only," according to the statement.

Even so, Democrats quickly responded in anger.

"I wasn\’t consulted concerning this referral nor were all of my Democratic colleagues," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the highest Democrat on Grassley\’s committee. "I do believe this referral is unfortunate since it\’s clearly another effort to deflect attention from what medicine committee\’s main concern: determining whether there is collusion regarding the Trump campaign and Russia to steer the election and whether there were subsequent obstruction of justice."

One congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the choice by Grassley and Graham to mention Steele towards Justice Department raises an obvious anomaly.

"These are speaking about DOJ a justice based upon documents DOJ gave them and according to witness testimony into the DOJ," the aide said.

Steele, an old British intelligence officer, was commissioned in 2016 by research firm Fusion GPS to research President Donald Trump\’s ties to Russia. The dossier he produced, which Trump has derided as fiction, describes a lot of illicit connections between Trump, his business and also the Kremlin.

Republicans have persistently questioned how the FBI handled the dossier after receiving it in the 2016 campaign, including whether or not it formed the foundation of your surveillance warrant against a Trump campaign associate and whether the FBI independently verified any kind of Steele\’s information.

Republicans in addition sounded the alarm over reports that Fusion was paid by the Clinton campaign for Steele\’s research, suggesting that Steele\’s work was the merchandise of your partisan smear effort.

The two senators claim in their letter to obtain seen proof "potential violations" by Steele on the law prohibiting false statements to government officials. These potential violations, they assert, occurred "regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier."

Their letter was copied to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the highest Democrat to the Judiciary Committee, and Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the most notable lawmakers for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top part lawmakers on the House Intelligence ommittee.

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McConnell dances on Bannon's grave

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\”Taking that counter-argument out of your game here clears the highway for just a very clear-eyed political technique of the season,\” said Scott Jennings, a Republican political strategist and former McConnell aide. \”Bannon will have dramatically complicated that.\”

Jennings and various McConnell allies the party can consentrate on selling a still-unpopular tax law for the American public and picking up Senate seats in states President Donald Trump won in 2016. Towards the extent Bannon is blasting McConnell with his fantastic cohorts as corporate globalist sellouts, he\’ll be doing so as a much-diminished political force.

The elation inside McConnell\’s camp weren\’t able to you have to be apparent. When McConnell assembled his leadership team on Wednesday for a new-year huddle, he focused first not on a looming government shutdown as well as recently-passed government tax bill – he celebrated Bannon\’s self-destruction.

The president had released your firm stand out hours earlier disavowing Bannon, stating his former aide had "not only lost his job, he lost his mind" while he was fired. McConnell gleefully told his colleagues they had spoken together with the president moments earlier and told him: \”I couldn\’t have stated it better myself.\”

But it\’s unclear how much of an aspect Bannon would\’ve gone through the nation\’s most acceptable Senate races, anyway. Several Republican vs. Republican battles will rage on without him.

In just four months, a pair of Indiana GOP congressmen will settle their months-long clash inside a May 8 primary. A newly wide-open Republican field inside Ohio Senate race will be dependant in a few hours. Along with fierce primaries loom in Wisconsin, Nevada, West Virginia and elsewhere.

Bannon\’s fall may deprive primary challengers of some oxygen and money. Nevertheless it doesn\’t change a main environment during which any tie to Washington or McConnell is usually poisonous.

\”The Republican Congress has replaced Obama because bogeyman for conservative GOP primary voters," Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law wrote after Moore beat then-Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama\’s Republican primary.

Still, Josh Holmes, a highly regarded McConnell political lieutenant who\’s spent most of the autumn and winter on the warpath against Bannon, said the president\’s decision to toss Bannon aside will freshly unity the party\’s efforts.

\”It repairs a divide that existed only owing to Steve Bannon,\” he was quoted saying. \”The party has largely been united – House, Senate, administration – and features been executing quite well since Bannon\’s departure from your White House. One exception fot it has long been Bannon\’s activities on the outside of.\”

A Bannon spokesman didn\’t reply to a request comment.

The majority leader will expend the weekend with the president and Republican congressional leaders at Camp David. He\’ll almost certainly stress for the group value of party unity, an idea inimical to Bannon\’s project to remake the GOP in their populist-nationalist image.

McConnell, depending on two sources knowledgeable about his plans, will lie down his look at just what it normally takes for Republicans to reach the 2011 treacherous political atmosphere. Namely, a relentless look at selling tax reform because engine behind the booming economy.

The hope of McConnell along with his allies at Senate Leadership Fund along with the National Republican Senatorial Committee is that often tax reform, along with the confirmation of conservative judges, can continue a restive GOP base from tossing two incumbents facing strong primary challenges. In Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller began airing ads in November. In Mississippi, Sen. Roger Wicker started airing spots right in front of Christmas. Both men face actual or expected Republican challengers.

\”It\’s been a large year in Washington,\” Wicker says in the ad, since he sits with his wife before a Christmas tree. \”We\’ve delivered pro-growth tax cuts, confirmed conservative judges – probably the most throughout history – and slashed billions in job-killing regulations.\”

Heller expires against businessman and perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, who have won multiple GOP House primaries this decade. Wicker is likely to face state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who narrowly lost to Sen. Thad Cochran in 2014. Mainstream Republicans take both challengers seriously, and Bannon was set to back both Tarkanian and McDaniel.

They\’ll now sure enough have to carry out without Bannon\’s expansive media presence and whatever funding he would\’ve gotten to generate from donors.

But simply how much Bannon mattered in both races isn\’t certain. As they was hoping to build a political group, its funding sources and staffing were in the air. While Bannon had wants to run primary opponents against every GOP senator up for reelection except Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the Breitbart chief was can not recruit challengers practically in most states.

And as the limited public polling available shows Tarkanian giving Heller a race, Wicker provides a substantial lead over McDaniel.

Former state Sen. Kelli Ward, a Bannon-backed candidate in Arizona, did play a role in chasing Sen. Jeff Flake into retirement. But she will be likely going to face establishment-backed Rep. Martha McSally from a GOP primary, and downplayed Bannon\’s role in their own campaign inside a statement.

"Steve Bannon is of countless high-profile endorsements Dr. Ward has," Ward spokesman Zachery Henry said soon. "The daily parlor intrigue in Washington, D.C., does not even attempt to strengthen the lives from the hardworking people today of the country."

But other GOP primaries have had little related to Bannon. In Indiana, Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, along with businessman Mike Braun, were attacking another since the summer. Bannon hadn\’t endorsed any candidate. In Ohio, where Republican Rep. Jim Renacci might enter into the Senate race following Treasurer Josh Mandel\’s decision Friday to decrease out, Bannon never endorsed Mandel or self-funding businessman Mike Gibbons.

In Wisconsin, Bannon had backed businessman and veteran Kevin Nicholson over state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who may be beloved by grass-roots Republicans within the state. But Nicholson\’s primary backers are Club for Growth and Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein, with the exceptional cash supply won\’t suffer as a consequence of Bannon\’s downfall.

A similar story is unfolding in Tennessee. While Bannon was supporting Rep. Marsha Blackburn, her backing from Club for Growth means she isn\’t dependent upon him for support. She raised $2 million from the fourth quarter, her campaign said today, compared ith former Rep. Stephen Fincher\’s $1.45 million.

The only guaranteed loser from Bannon\’s blowup is Bannon himself.

\”Steve Bannon\’s Fifteen minutes ought to be a case study as to what goes wrong with people once they put themselves through the causes they\’re saying to dedicate yourself to,\” Holmes said.

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Cummings hospitalized as wife suspends campaign for governor

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is currently hospitalized after a task to drain an infection, three sources told POLITICO, the most up-to-date setback inside of a string of medical issues which have plagued the longtime lawmaker since a year ago.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a Democratic policy consultant, suspended her gubernatorial bid in Maryland on Friday, shortly before news surfaced that her husband is at the hospital.

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Soon after POLITICO first reported his hospitalization, Cummings\’ office released an argument saying his health problems were associated with a bacterial infection in the knee.

"Doctors drained the infection in the minor procedure today. He\’s resting comfortably and expects the full recovery," his office said Friday.

Cummings was hospitalized and sidelined for a lot of months not too long ago due to heart issues.

In a press release announcing wants to suspend her campaign, Rockeymoore Cummings cited personal issues but wouldn\’t elaborate.

\”Making an attractive and direct contribution towards state of Maryland also to our nation was my greatest motivating factor for getting into the public arena. Unfortunately, caused by personal considerations, We\’re suspending my bid for governor of Maryland,\” she said within an email to supporters.

Multiple sources said Rockeymoore Cummings\’ decision to leave out the race was linked to her husband\’s health concerns. Democratic aides said Cummings was moving slowly ahead of the Christmas break.

Cummings, 66, was hospitalized last May after what his office described back then as a \”minimally invasive\” heart valve replacement. He was scheduled to revisit work after that but ended up missing many months a result of a post-op infection that kept him clear of Capitol Hill until September.

Upon his return, Cummings was noticeably slimmer and said he\’d have got to sustain a stricter diet and acquire more sleep. But he brushed aside any notion that he or she wasn\’t competent to fully perform his job.

Cummings has represented his hometown Baltimore inside your home since 1996. He or she is well-liked and revered among all parties, even while he\’s sparred with Republicans over contentious issues for the reason that top Democrat over the House Oversight Committee.

Rockeymoore Cummings was one among nine Democrats vying to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. She was endorsed by EMILY\’s List after she jumped within the race in October. But Rep. Cummings was the gubernatorial candidate\’s biggest single surrogate both publicly plus regards to fundraising. The congressman was listed as being a headliner a great upcoming fundraiser for Rockeymoore Cummings on Sunday.

Despite the support with the prominent Democratic congressman, Rockeymoore Cummings wasn\’t the irrefutable front-runner however. At the beginning of polling of your Democratic primary, she trailed candidates including former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Prince George\’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

Despite a considerable primary as well as general Democratic lean of Maryland, Democrats aren\’t as optimistic about unseating Hogan as they are about beating incumbent Republicans in states like Illinois, Boise state broncos, or Maine. That\’s largely because Hogan is popular: An October poll by Morning Consult listed him for the reason that governor while using the second-highest approval near your vicinity, behind only Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

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DOJ clash with Trump allies hits Ryan's doorstep

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The two sources told POLITICO there was an endeavor by Ryan and DOJ leaders to reduce the temperature newest hostilities between the Justice Department and Trump allies in Congress. That group of House Republicans has railed against the department\’s leadership amid partisan questions its handling with the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia. Nunes had even threatened contempt citations against DOJ and FBI leaders should they failed to comply with his request.

Still, this probably is not the end of it for Ryan. There are signs that Wednesday\’s agreement won\’t placate the GOP lawmakers most hostile toward the Justice Department. And therefore the speaker will probably be in the heart of ongoing run-ins between some of his hard-line members as well as DOJ as they quite simply fight over the definition of typically closely guarded documents – from surveillance warrants to evidence connected with ongoing investigations.

Indeed, Ryan\’s attempt to help broker a truce suggests he\’ll be a central figure in resolving disputes that Democrats and several Republicans fear could erode public confidence inside justice system.

On Thursday morning, just hours after the tentative détente, Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) requested Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be replaced unless he exerts with additional control in the FBI and produces documents Congress have been requesting.

"It\’s time for Sessions to get started managing from a spirit of transparency to give doing this improper behavior to light and stop further violations," they wrote within a op-ed within the Washington Examiner.

Though Ryan hasn\’t waded publicly into these fights, multiple GOP lawmakers repeat the speaker\’s attitude may be consistent: He firmly believes during the House\’s authority to conduct oversight with the Department of Justice and FBI.

"Is know for Representatives carries a constitutional duty to workout oversight from the executive branch," said the spokeswoman, AshLee Strong. "The speaker always expects the administration to observe the House\’s oversight requests, and then he will support his chairmen when they get them to be."

Rosenstein and Wray "wasted a visit to the Capitol," said one Republican lawmaker near the speaker. "Once Paul assures himself that this request is legitimate and there\’s grounds for it, he always backs the chairperson who requires it."

Democrats have declared that the GOP attacks to the Justice Department – and Special Counsel Robert Mueller for example – really are a cynical try to protect Trump as investigations of his campaign\’s ties to Russia encroached upon his group of friends. The document requests and claims of bias, they\’ve argued, are aimed towards delegitimizing your research.

Republican lawmakers themselves are divided about precisely how harsh an approach to take toward the FBI and Justice Department. But in interviews, some House lawmakers say Ryan has come across a unifying theme throughout the conference: transparency.

"Paul Ryan can be an institutionalist," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who\’s been being among the most aggressive critics of Justice Department leaders\’ handling of the Trump-Russia probe. "I really believe he shares our frustration using the loss of responsiveness."

"Perhaps we have seen several different camps regarding how aggressive people must be … but those camps are typical coming together with one singular focus, which will come down on the medial side of needing more documents, more transparency," added another GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity to characterize conversations with colleagues.

"I do believe there was clearly lots of division earlier, even so the more the GOP members uncover … greater careers aligning of investigative strategies and tactics," the lawmaker said.

Ryan states little publicly over the matter since October, as he chided DOJ due to its refusal to cooperate with congressional investigators demanding more info about how exactly the FBI handled its Trump-Russia investigation.

"As soon as the executive branch, in this situation, the FBI as well as DOJ are stonewalling or foot-dragging, making it harder for us to accomplish our obligation of conducting oversight about the executive branch," he vented within an interview with Reuters back then.

Since then, some Trump loyalists inside the house have ratcheted up their complaints. First, they took concentrate on Mueller, who was simply tapped by Rosenstein in May to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. Mueller\’s team, they complained, included officials who had donated to Democrats, they can said raised the specter of bias.

That group of Republicans close with Trump – including Gaetz, Jordan, Meadows and Ron DeSantis – also pounced on reports that Mueller had removed a highly regarded agent from his team in July after learning of a few texting criticizing Trump that he had provided for a colleague.

At once, even more traditional Republicans over the intelligence, judiciary and oversight panels also began more quietly question the FBI\’s tactics inside the Russia probe, though failed to allege bias or corruption necessarily. Recently, POLITICO also reported that Nunes and various Republicans about the House intelligence committee ended up perfecting a probe they assert could spotlight wrongdoing by top officials inside FBI.

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