Top Trump Campaign Adviser Close to Plea Deal

“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,” CNN reports.

“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.”

“Once a plea deal is in place, Gates would become the third known cooperator in Mueller’s sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

Immigration Bills Die in the Senate

“The Republican-led Senate on Thursday blocked both President Trump’s immigration plan and a bipartisan alternative, a failure that cast doubt on whether Congress will ever resolve the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants,” the Washington Post reports.

“The failed votes could plunge the nation’s immigration system into further crisis, as millions of ‘dreamers’ are set to lose legal protections when the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is set to end on March 5. Federal court challenges continue, meaning the program may continue under legal limbo until June.”

Trump’s immigration plan got 39 votes. The other three plans got 52, 54, and 54 votes,  despite the president’s veto threats.

Trump Revolving Door of Shame

Matt Bai: “The sad thing about Porter’s sudden implosion, aside from what it says about the culture of the place, is that he was probably one of Trump’s few truly qualified hires… Trump had a moment when he probably could have persuaded anyone he wanted to come serve at his side in Washington… There was a sense after Trump won in 2016 that he was unprepared for the job….that the patriotic thing was to help him succeed.”

“Now no one with a reputation still to lose wants to have anything to do with this calamity… Trump isn’t a guy who asks for help. He’s not inspired by talent and intellect; he’s threatened by it.”

White House Threatens to Veto Bipartisan Bill

The White House “issued a veto threat against a bipartisan immigration plan in the Senate that was emerging as the best hope for a legislative deal, likely dooming congressional attempts to protect younger undocumented immigrants known as ‘dreamers’ from possible deportation,” the Washington Post reports.

Jonathan Swan: “This is a big deal. Veto threats are rare at this stage of the legislative process.”

Earlier for members: Trump Doesn’t Want an Immigration Deal

Stormy Daniels Kept a ‘Monica Lewinsky Dress’

“Stormy Daniels may have more than just her words from a 2011 interview to back up past claims of an affair with Donald Trump – she has kept a gold dress from the night of the alleged encounter,” The Blast reports.

“We’re told Daniels is planning on having the dress forensically tested to search for any DNA that proves she isn’t lying about her tryst with Trump, including samples of skin, hair or … anything.”

Saccone Holds Small Lead In Pennsylvania’s 18th

A new Monmouth poll in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district finds Rick Saccone (R) with a small advantage over Conor Lamb (D).

Using a turnout model similar to voting patterns seen in other special elections over the past year, Saccone leads by 49% to 46%.  A historical turnout model, based on lower turnout than the 2014 midterm, gives Saccone a larger 50% to 45% lead. A model with higher turnout overall, similar to a presidential election, gives Saccone a 48% to 44% advantage.

President Trump won the district in 2016 by 20 percentage points.

Also interesting: 48% say they support “what President Trump is doing,” while 47% opposed him.

Shooter Belonged to White Supremacist Group

“Nikolas Cruz, the alleged gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday, trained with a white-supremacist group,” its leader told the Daily Beast.

Said Jordan Jereb, captain of the Republic of Florida: “He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday. Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out.”

Senate Heads to Immigration Showdown

Bloomberg: “A series of procedural votes likely Thursday will focus on two proposals. The bipartisan plan would give 1.8 million young immigrants, known as dreamers, a path to citizenship and provide $25 billion for border security. The second, backed by Republican leaders, would include those provisions plus other priorities of President Donald Trump, including strict limits on family-based migration and an end to a diversity visa lottery. Democrats reject those proposals.”

“In a hardball tactic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky decided a vote on the GOP plan would come last. That will make it harder for GOP lawmakers who might be willing to back the more modest bipartisan measure, which was conceived by a group of senators that included eight Republicans. They won’t be able to see if the Trump plan fails first and then move to the pared-down bipartisan measure as a fallback.”

Are Crowded Democratic Primaries a Blessing or Curse?

David Wasserman: “Republicans’ biggest structural advantages in the House – think geography, incumbency and money — have been weakening all cycle. Pennsylvania’s GOP map just got thrown out, at least 32 Republicans aren’t seeking reelection, and over three dozen GOP incumbents were out-raised by Democrats in the final quarter of 2017 — including GOP Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), whom Hill out-raised. In the past, these kinds of trends have foreshadowed wave elections.”

“But as primary season approaches, the explosion of candidate and donor interest on the Democratic side has a caveat: in a lot of races, Democrats suddenly have more well-funded hopefuls than they know what to do with.”

“So, are these congested Democratic primaries a blessing or a curse? The answer: it depends on the situation, but overall, Republicans shouldn’t count on them to save their majority.”