News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
From The Hill
A Senate panel on Tuesday rebuked President Trump‘s efforts to ease sanctions on the Chinese telecom firm ZTE, which the intelligence community and trade regulators have warned poses a national security risk for the U.S.The Senate Banking Committee approved an amendment in an overwhelming and bipartisan 23-2 vote that would block Trump from easing sanctions on ZTE without first certifying to Congress that the company is complying with U.S. law.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s defense is going after one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s top deputies in a bid to persuade a federal judge to order a hearing into leaks to the media.
In a court filing Monday night, Manafort’s attorneys singled out prosecutor Andrew Weissmann over a meeting he attended with The Associated Press in April 2017 — about a month before Mueller was appointed to take over the Trump-Russia investigation. At the time, Weissmann headed the fraud section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
From The Hill
The Republican National Committee (RNC) paid nearly half a million dollars to a law firm that represented clients, including former White House communications director Hope Hicks, in the ongoing Russian investigations, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
The RNC paid Trout Cacheris & Janis $451,780 for its services, according to a federal filing.
Elliott Broidy’s Company Got Its Biggest U.S. Government Contract Ever While He Pitched Trump Administration
From The Daily Beast
At the same time Elliott Broidy was cashing in on his access to President Trump by pitching him on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he was also receiving the biggest payouts in the history of his company from the U.S. government.
Monday, the Associated Press reported on the months-long 2017 lobbying effort carried out by Broidy and George Nader that brought the pair close to securing nearly $1 billion in contracts with the Saudis and the Emiratis in exchange for lobbying against their enemy, Qatar. Also during the pair’s lobbying blitz in the fall of 2017, Broidy’s company received its largest payouts to date from the federal government on contracts it had been seeking to secure for years, The Daily Beast has learned.
Confusion and anger briefly reigned on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appeared to express unfamiliarity with one of the intelligence community’s key conclusions about Russian interference in the 2016 election — that the Kremlin intended to help Donald Trump get elected.
“I do not believe that I’ve seen that conclusion that the specific intent was to help President Trump win,” she told reporters at the Capitol. “I’m not aware of that.”
But just hours after Nielsen’s remarks began making the rounds – drawing rebukes from Democrats — the Department of Homeland Security issued a lengthy statement emphasizing that Nielsen “has previously reviewed” the intelligence community’s assessment “and agrees with it.”
From The Hill
Republican senators who have warned the White House for months not to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation are coming under new pressure given President Trump’s latest demands for the Department of Justice.
Republican senators believe that if Trump fired Mueller or obviously interfered in his investigation, it would backfire politically and potentially hurt their chances of keeping control of Congress.
They want to avoid an all-out war between Trump and Justice that might draw parallels to the Nixon-era “Saturday Night Massacre,” when senior department officials resigned instead of complying with orders to fire a special counsel.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that someone in his department may have leaked banking records of President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen and confirmed that an investigation is underway.
Mnuchin also slammed any whistleblowers who leaked suspicious activity reports about Cohen.
On Monday afternoon at 4 p.m., Michael Flynn Jr. tweeted this: “You’re all going down. You know who you are. Mark my word….”
Which is, um, intriguing?
Flynn is the son of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and now a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.