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Thursday, Feb 22nd

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Rick Gates is reportedly close to becoming Mueller’s third cooperating ex-Trump aide

Rick Gates

Special counsel Robert Mueller may be close to flipping another former Trump staffer.

Rick Gates — Paul Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, and a 2016 Trump campaign staffer — is “finalizing” a plea deal in which he’d cooperate with the Mueller investigation, CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Sara Murray report. Gates has been in negotiations with Mueller’s team about cooperating for over a month, their report says, citing sources familiar with the case.

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Jeffrey Tambor: Transparent star fired over sexual harassment claims

Transparent star fired for sexual harassmentJeffrey Tambor has been dropped from the Emmy-winning Amazon comedy-drama Transparent after sexual harassment allegations.

The decision was confirmed by Amazon on Thursday after an investigation. The actor, who played the transgender matriarch Maura Pfefferman in the show, was accused of misconduct by his co-star Trace Lysette in November.

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At least 100 White House officials served with 'interim' security clearances until November

100+ WH personnel worked without permanent clearanceNearly a year into President Donald Trump's administration, senior-level staffers -- including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Rob Porter -- remained on interim clearances even as other senior advisers were granted full security access, according to information obtained by CNN from a US government official.

Having interim clearance can hamper a staffer's ability to perform essential functions of the job, a former administration official said. It requires those with full permanent clearances to remain vigilant about what information is shared with those still operating on an interim basis.
There were more than 100 staffers in the Executive Office of the President who were operating on interim clearances more than a year after Trump was elected, according to the information.

Steve Bannon met with Mueller multiple times over the past week

Steve Bannon met with Mueller several timesSteve Bannon, who served as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller over multiple days this week, NBC News has learned from two sources familiar with the proceedings.

Bannon spent a total of some 20 hours in conversations with the team led by Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as other issues that have arisen around the probe.

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EPA changes its story on Pruitt's first-class travel

EPA cahnges story on Pruitt travel waver

EPA on Wednesday retracted its claim that Administrator Scott Pruitt has received a “blanket waiver” to fly first class whenever he travels, after POLITICO pointed officials to federal travel rules that appeared to bar such arrangements.

Pruitt has been routinely flying first class at taxpayers’ expense after securing what EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox had described as "blanket waiver,” POLITICO reported Tuesday. But the General Services Administration says federal rules require agencies’ oversight staffers to sign off on officials’ first- or business-class travel "on a trip-by-trip basis ... unless the traveler has an up-to-date documented disability or special need.”

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Senate defeats Trump’s immigration plan

Durbin: senators defeat Trump's immigration billThe Senate defeated a GOP proposal based on President Donald Trump's immigration framework.

The plan would have offered a path to citizenship for "Dreamers" and increased border security while also cutting legal immigration.

The vote was 39-60, with 60 votes needed for approval.

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Nikolas Cruz Trained With White Supremacists, Wore Pro-Trump Hat in School

Cruz trained with white supremecists; wore Trump hat Nikolas Cruz, the man accused of killing 17 people in a Florida high school, was a member of a “white separatist paramilitary proto-fascist organization,” the group told The Daily Beast.

Cruz, 19, is accused of opening fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Prior to the shooting, he trained with the Republic of Florida, the group’s captain Jordan Jereb said (as first reported by the Anti-Defamation League). The RoF seeks to create a “white ethnostate” in Florida, according to its website, a view that Cruz supposedly shared.

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Inaugural Committee Gave Over $25 Million to Melania’s Friend

Mwelania's friend got $25m from inaugural committeePresident Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by an adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, while donating $5 million — less than expected — to charity, according to tax filings released on Thursday.

The nonprofit group that oversaw Mr. Trump’s inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, had been under pressure from liberal government watchdog groups to reveal how it spent the record $107 million it had raised from wealthy donors and corporations.

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Second appeals court upholds block on Trump travel ban

Second appeals court upholds travel banA second federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a ban on the implementation of President Donald Trump's travel ban, saying it's likely unlawful because it targets Muslim.

The executive order was the third attempt by the president to enact a ban on travelers from several countries, six of which are majority Muslim -- Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The latest version of the order also forbid entry for people from North Korea and Venezuela.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 9-4 on Thursday that the ban was "unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam."

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