1/ Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians to release of information damaging the Clinton campaign. One official said the information suggests the “people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.” (CNN)
2/ Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Putin a decade ago. He proposed a political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across the former Soviet republics, contradicting assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests. (Associated Press)
3/ Trump and House GOP leaders lack the votes needed to pass the Obamacare repeal. More than 25 Freedom Caucus members are threatening to derail the legislation, saying the latest revisions don’t go far enough. It only takes 22 GOP lawmakers to block the bill. (Politico)
4/ Schumer calls for delaying Gorsuch vote because of the Trump-Russia probe. While his demand is unlikely to gain traction with Senate GOP leaders, the move illustrates a strategy of using the stain of an FBI probe to undercut the rest of Trump’s agenda. (Politico)
5/ While Gorsuch was testifying, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned his ruling on providing students with disabilities with an education. Gorsuch’s 2008 opinion said school districts simply had to provide disabled students with a little more than nothing, rather than a free and “appropriate public education.” All eight justices said Gorsuch 2008’s opinion was wrong and that public school instruction must be “specially designed” to meet a child’s “unique needs.” (Think Progress)
- “I’ll criticize judges,” Trump says, hours after Gorsuch said he’d rule against Trump if the law required it. “When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or motives of a federal judge,” Gorsuch said at his confirmation hearing, “I find that disheartening and demoralizing.” Trump called out a federal court judge in Hawaii who placed a stay on his second travel ban. (New York Times)
6/ Members of the Trump transition team were under inadvertent surveillance following the election. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said the surveillance appears to have been legal, incidental collection and that it does not appear to have been related to concerns over collusion with Russia. (Politico)
7/ Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn didn’t sign Trump’s ethics pledge. The pledge barred federal appointees from lobbying their former colleagues for five years after leaving the administration and banned them from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments for life. (The Daily Beast)
8/ North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move and will pursue “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programs. This includes developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile. (Reuters)
9/ The White House is preparing to dismantle Obama’s climate change policy. Trump will order Scott Pruitt, EPA chief, to withdraw and rewrite a set of Obama-era regulations known as the Clean Power Plan, which was devised to shut down hundreds of heavily polluting coal-fired power plants and freeze construction of new coal plants, while replacing them with vast wind and solar farms. (New York Times)
10/ Trump signs NASA bill aimed at sending people to Mars. The bill authorized $19.5 billion in funding to support NASA’s long-term goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. (Washington Post)
11/ The Secret Service has asked for $60 million extra for travel and protection resulting from the complicated Trump family lifestyle. $26.8 million would pay to protect Trump Tower. (Washington Post)
- Trump’s team said it didn’t ask for military vehicles at inauguration. Emails show it did. (Huffington Post)
12/ Ex-Colorado GOP leader said only Democrats committed voter fraud. Now he’s charged with voter fraud. (Washington Post)
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