Manafort Advised Trump Team on Russia Scandal

“Months after the FBI began examining Paul Manafort as part of a probe into ties between President Trump’s team and Russia, Manafort called Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus to push back against the mounting controversy,” Politico reports.

“It was about a week before Trump’s inauguration, and Manafort wanted to brief Trump’s team on the alleged inaccuracies in a recently released dossier of memos written by a former British spy for Trump’s opponents that alleged compromising ties between Russia, Trump and Trump’s associates, including Manafort.”

GOP Candidate ‘Body-Slams’ Reporter in Montana

“The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, ‘Get the hell out of here,'” The Guardian reports.

“Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte (R), a tech millionaire running for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly ‘body-slammed’ the reporter.”

Listen to the audio here.

BuzzFeed reporter Alexis Levinson tweeted that she saw it happen: “Ben walked into a room where a local TV crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte. All of a sudden, I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor.”

Mar-a-Lago Employee Working on Trump Foreign Trip

“A top Mar-a-Lago employee is also working for the government to help prepare for President Trump’s visit to Taormina, Italy, for the G-7 Summit — an unconventional arrangement that further blurs the line between the president’s business empire and the White House,” BuzzFeed reports.

“Heather Rinkus, the guest reception manager at Trump’s ‘Winter White House,’ is working with the president’s advance and logistics team, while Trump’s exclusive club, Mar-a-Lago, closes for the summer. She has an official White House email and government-issued phone.”

Sessions Did Not Disclose Meetings with Russians

Attorney General Jeff Sessions “did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance,” CNN reports.

“The new information from the Justice Department is the latest example of Sessions failing to disclose contacts he had with Russian officials. He has come under withering criticism from Democrats following revelations that he did not disclose the same contacts with Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year.”

Top Russians Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides

“American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald Trump through his advisers,” the New York Times reports.

“The conversations focused on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, a retired general who was advising Mr. Trump.”

“Details of the conversations, some of which have not been previously reported, add to an increasing understanding of the alarm inside the American government last year about the Russian disruption campaign.”

GOP Health Bill Would Leave 23 Million Uninsured

The CBO finds that the health-care bill that passed the House would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026, the Washington Post reports.

“The new estimate, which reflects a series of last-minute revisions Republicans made in order to win over several conservative lawmakers and a handful of moderates, calculates that the American Health Care Act will reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026.”

Bloomberg: “The CBO said in its projection that more people will get insurance but that the coverage under those plans would be less generous. In some cases, people would use tax credits under the law to buy plans that don’t cover major medical risks.”

David Nather: “But CBO is warning Congress that the latest changes — letting states opt out of two of the ACA’s main insurance regulations — could ruin the insurance markets in those states even if they make insurance cheaper for healthy people.”

For members: It Was Never a Health Care Bill

Fake Document May Have Spurred Comey

“In the midst of the 2016 presidential primary season, the FBI received a purported Russian intelligence document describing a tacit understanding between the campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Justice Department over the inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server,” the Washington Post reports.

“Current and former officials have said that document played a significant role in the July decision by then-FBI Director James Comey to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement… set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.”

“But according to the FBI’s own assessment, the document was bad intelligence… possibly even a fake sent to confuse the bureau.”

Cruz Says Franken is ‘Obnoxious’ for Insulting Him

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) “obnoxious and insulting” for devoting an entire chapter to the Texas GOP senator in Franken’s new book titled Giant of the Senate, according to Politico.

Said Cruz: “Al is trying to sell books and apparently he’s decided that being obnoxious and insulting me is good for causing liberals to buy his books. I wish him all the best.”

What Special Elections Are Telling Us

David Wasserman: “The results of individual special elections… can’t always foretell what will happen in the next high-stakes midterm. Each district presents its own unique set of variables, like flawed candidates or dreadfully unpopular governors.”

“But taken collectively, the margins in specials can tell us a good deal about the political environment — and it’s looking really bad for Republicans.”

“So far, between KS-04 and GA-06, Democrats are outperforming their ‘generic’ mark by an average of 9.5 points. That’s really, really bad for Republicans.”

Spicer Left Out of Vatican Visit

President Trump’s entourage at the Vatican “included his wife, his daughter, and an array of staffers—but not White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a devout Catholic who told reporters earlier this year that he gave up alcohol for Lent,” Politico reports.

“Both sides, according to a White House official, agreed to limit the number of staffers who attended. Two other senior communications aides from the White House were included: Hope Hicks, who like Melania and Ivanka Trump wore a black veil over her hair, and Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media and a longtime Trump loyalist.”

Most Think Trump Is Abusing His Office

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters believe that President Trump is abusing the powers of his office by a 54% to 43% margin.

He also has a dismal 37% to 55% approval rating.

Meanwhile, voter opinions of most of Trump’s personal qualities remain negative:

  • 59% say he is not honest;
  • 57% say he does not have good leadership skills;
  • 56% say he does not care about average Americans;
  • 65% say that he is not level-headed;
  • 64% say that he is a strong person;
  • 62% say that he does not share their values.

Trump’s Base Is Shrinking

Nate Silver: “There’s been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now. (The decline in Trump’s strong approval ratings is larger than the overall decline in his approval ratings, in fact.) Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support.”

“And voters who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve of him by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which could presage an ‘enthusiasm gap’ that works against Trump at the midterms. The data suggests, in particular, that the GOP’s initial attempt (and failure) in March to pass its unpopular health care bill may have cost Trump with his core supporters.”