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Washington Brief: Chaffetz Demands FBI Turn Over All Records of Comey’s Meetings With Trump

Washington Brief

  • A memo written in February by now-former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey says President Donald Trump urged him to abandon an FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded that the FBI turn over all documents related to meetings between Trump and Comey. (The New York Times)
  • National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said it was “wholly appropriate” for Trump to share information with Russian officials that was provided to the United States by Israel, despite fears raised that it could compromise intelligence sources. Congressional Democrats say they want to see transcripts of the meeting. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A Republican runoff in South Carolina’s 5th District is likely heading to a recount, with Ralph Norman leading Tommy Pope by 200 votes. The race for the seat previously held by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has pitted the conservative Club for Growth, which is backing Norman, against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s support for Pope. (Roll Call)
  • Almost half of Americans said Obamacare replacement legislation should leave in place the opportunity for states to expand their Medicaid rolls, according to a new poll. (Morning Consult) The same survey found that voters support many of the pillars of Trump’s tax plan. (Morning Consult)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
U.S. Chamber Global Supply Chain Summit 8:15 a.m.
Sen. Lee, OMB’s Mulvaney speak at Federalist Society conference 9 a.m.
USDA’s Perdue testifies at House Agriculture Committee 10 a.m.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers former Sen. Scott Brown for New Zealand ambassador 2 p.m.
Rep. Brady speaks at Politico tax event 5:30 p.m.
Rep. Delaney speaks at Atlantic Council event on infrastructure 6 p.m.
Thursday
U.S. Chamber of Commerce event with Arizona Gov. Ducey, Kentucky Gov. Bevin on foreign investment in U.S. 8:30 a.m.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers William Hagerty for Japan ambassador 9:30 a.m.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies at Senate Banking Committee 10 a.m.
Bipartisan Policy Center event on infrastructure 10 a.m.
Sen. Murphy speaks at Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy 12:15 p.m.
Hoover Institution event with EPA’s Pruitt 5 p.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

General

Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians
Adam Goldman et al., The New York Times 

The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to an episode that has renewed questions about how the White House handles sensitive intelligence.

Preserving The Russia Investigation: A Preview of Our Interview With Sally Yates
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker

Last Thursday morning, I sat down with Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General, whom President Trump fired on January 30th, after she refused to defend his original executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. Yates testified before Congress last Monday; our interview was her first since her dismissal.

Trump campaign alumni launch email fundraising start-up
Matea Gold, The Washington Post 

Last fall, Matt Oczkowski and Parks Bennett were logging 12-hour days in a rented office in San Antonio that smelled of Chick-fil-A and Doritos, focused on one mission: to elect Donald Trump president. As they raced to crunch voter data and build up Trump’s small-donor base, an idea began to jell: Could they apply data science to make email fundraising more effective and transparent?

At Center for American Progress, a Tryout for 2020 Ideas 
Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call 

Potential Democratic presidential candidates took center stage Tuesday for what might prove to be the kickoff of the 2020 campaign, but the popular characterization of the progressive policy confab as a “CPAC for liberals” might have missed the mark. The Center for American Progress’ 2017 Ideas Conference looked like the kind of muted 2020 cattle call one would expect from a gathering in the ballroom of the Georgetown Four Seasons in Washington.

NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose. Then it did.
Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg, The Washington Post 

When the National Security Agency began using a new hacking tool called EternalBlue, those entrusted with deploying it marveled at both its uncommon power and the widespread havoc it could wreak if it ever got loose. Some officials even discussed whether the flaw was so dangerous they should reveal it to Microsoft, the company whose software the government was exploiting, according to former NSA employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.

Presidential

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation
Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times 

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

McMaster Says Information Trump Shared With Russians Was ‘Wholly Appropriate’
Louise Radnofsky and Rebecca Ballhaus, The Wall Street Journal 

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday that counterterrorism information that Mr. Trump shared in a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office last week “was wholly appropriate.” “What the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation,” said Gen. McMaster, in a briefing with White House reporters that had been set to focus on the president’s coming first foreign trip.

Amid Trump controversies, GOP picks compartmentalization, not confrontation
Dan Balz, The Washington Post 

As President Trump lurches from one crisis to another, Republicans have chosen a strategy of compartmentalization over confrontation. It is a survival mechanism, one that comes with no guarantee of ultimate success but with significant risks attached.

Senate

Schumer demands transcript of Trump-Russia meeting
Seung Min Kim, Politico 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the White House to release unedited transcripts from President Donald Trump’s meeting with top Russian officials last week to Capitol Hill following reports that Trump shared highly classified information with the two men. Arguing that the Trump administration is in a “crisis of credibility,” the Senate’s top Democrat stressed that the reporting, if accurate, means Trump “may have badly damaged our national security, nothing less, and in several ways.”

Cornyn Withdraws From Consideration as FBI Director
Bridget Bowman, Roll Call 

Sen. John Cornyn has taken himself out of consideration to be the next F.B.I. director, he informed President Donald Trump’s administration Tuesday. The Texas Republican said in a statement that the best place for him to serve is in the Senate.

A GOP senator’s guide to a Trump scandal: 1) Say you’re ‘troubled.’ 2) Keep walking.
Ben Terris and Monica Hesse, The Washington Post 

On Capitol Hill, Republican senators were troubled. Troubled, on Tuesday, as they deboarded their little underground trams, which run underneath U.S. Capitol grounds, and as they scurried between their office buildings.

House

Chaffetz demands Comey-Trump memos in letter to FBI
Heather Caygle, Politico 

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz is demanding the FBI hand over all documents detailing communications between President Donald Trump and fired agency Director James Comey within the next week. The Utah Republican’s request Tuesday comes after an explosive New York Times report that Trump asked Comey to put a stop to a federal investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Creative Ways House Republicans Ducked Questions On Trump Revealing Classified Info To The Russians
Matt Fuller, HuffPost 

After another day of explosive revelations concerning President Donald Trump, former FBI director James Comey, and the president seeming to reveal highly classified information to the Russians, House Republicans were mostly silent. House Republicans appear to be so unconcerned with Trump revealing top secret information to an adversary that many are still unfamiliar with the Washington Post story about it, telling reporters Tuesday night ― a full 24 hours after the story broke ― that they couldn’t comment on the matter until they had read the report.

South Carolina GOP Runoff Likely Heading for Recount
Simone Pathé, Roll Call 

The Republican primary runoff for South Carolina’s open 5th District seat is likely heading toward a recount. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, former state Rep. Ralph Norman led state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, 50.3 to 49.7 percent, The Associated Press reported.

Jon Ossoff Launches Planned Parenthood Attack on Karen Handel
Simone Pathé, Roll Call 

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff is going after Karen Handel’s opposition to Planned Parenthood in a new TV ad launching Tuesday, as he tries to paint a contrast between him and his Republican opponent in the upcoming the 6th District special election runoff. The ad features Mindy Fine, who identifies herself as an OB-GYN in Cobb County.

Frelinghuysen faces ethics complaint for targeting activist
Heather Caygle, Politico  

An ethics watchdog claims Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen violated House rules by criticizing a local bank executive in a fundraising letter to her employer. The Campaign for Accountability filed the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics Tuesday, requesting an investigation into whether the New Jersey Republican violated House ethics rules by singling out the employee, a local liberal activist, in his letter to a board member of the bank.

States

Missouri court overturns law enacted after Ferguson unrest 
The Associated Press

The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down portions of a law that imposed special requirements on Ferguson and other cities and police in St. Louis County following unrest after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The court ruled Tuesday that the 2015 law was unconstitutional because the state failed to justify provisions treating St. Louis County differently from the rest of the state.

Questions about property taxes follow Pritzker campaign
The Associated Press 

Questions about property taxes are following Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker has said he applied “only one year” to have property taxes reduced for a mansion he bought next to his Chicago home.

State Rep. Rick Quinn indicted by state grand jury
Glenn Smith, The Post and Courier 

State Rep. Rick Quinn has been indicted by the State Grand Jury on two misconduct charges and accused of a long-running scheme to hide millions of dollars his and his father’s businesses received from groups whose causes he worked to advance at the Statehouse. Quinn, a Lexington Republican, is accused of failing to report more than $4.5 million from numerous, unidentified groups between January 1999 to April 15 of this year, according to the indictments.

Advocacy

Trump drawn into Saudi Game of Thrones
Kenneth P. Vogel and Theodoric Meyer, Politico 

President Donald Trump is boning up on policy and protocol ahead of an international trip that begins Friday in Saudi Arabia, but he’s already emerged as a peripheral and perhaps unwitting player in a power struggle between two Saudi princes seeking to succeed the aging King Salman. In March, Trump raised eyebrows among royal court watchers in Washington and Middle Eastern capitals by holding an Oval Office meeting and unexpected formal lunch with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the chief rival to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef for the crown.

One of the tech industry’s loudest watchdogs is getting a boost from Hillary Clinton
Tony Romm, Recode 

One of the most aggressive, vocal antagonists to Silicon Valley’s tech giants has received a big boost from a rather unexpected source: Former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton. On Monday, Clinton revealed her plans for Onward Together, a new nonprofit that seeks to provide more financial ammunition to Democratic candidates and causes.

A Message from the National Association of Broadcasters:

Who can you trust to provide around-the-clock reporting and up-to-the minute emergency updates during times of crisis? A majority of Americans say it’s broadcast TV and radio. Find out why.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Investing in Inmate Education Saves American Taxpayers Real Cash
Turner Nashe, Morning Consult 

As President Donald Trump continues his focus on criminal justice reform and additional reforms to federal spending, it is important for the administration to consider the impact of education on inmates and offenders as well. No one can deny that state and federal expenditures have nearly quadrupled over the past two decades.

Did Mr. Trump Obstruct Justice?
The Editorial Board, The New York Times 

“I hope you can let this go.” Those are President Trump’s words, according to the former F.B.I. director, James Comey, and they should resound as an alarm to Congress and anyone concerned about protecting the Constitution.

Trump Should Worry: Comey Memo Describes a High Crime
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View 

If President Donald Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and his ties to Russia, that’s obstruction of justice. But let’s be clear: It’s the impeachable offense of obstruction.

The 25th Amendment Solution to Remove Trump
Ross Douthat, The New York Times 

It was just three days and a lifetime ago that I wrote a column about Donald Trump’s unfitness for the presidency that affected a world-weary tone. Nothing about this White House’s chaos was surprising given the style of Trump’s campaign, I argued.

A Message from the National Association of Broadcasters:

Former FEMA head Craig Fugate has said activating FM radio in smartphones would “ensure if all else fails, you can still get information from broadcasters” during times of emergency. A majority of Americans agree broadcast radio and TV stations, above all other media, provide the information they need to keep safe. Find out more.

Research Reports and Polling

Americans Prioritize Small Business, Middle-Class Relief in Tax Reform
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult 

As tax reform efforts on Capitol Hill gain momentum, Americans say any bill should help small businesses and the middle class — and think the rich and corporations do not need tax breaks. According to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, small businesses have the upper hand on big corporations when it comes to public sentiment about their tax rates.

Plurality of Voters Want Senate GOP to Leave Medicaid Expansion Intact
Jon Reid, Morning Consult 

As Senate Republicans consider what to do with the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a plurality of voters would like them to leave it alone. Forty-six percent of voters said that any Obamacare replacement legislation should leave intact the expansion of Medicaid, a federal program for low-income Americans, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO survey.