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Wednesday, Dec 13th

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Congressional aides may have answers on pro-Russia GOP platform change

Paul Ryan chief of staff Jonathan Burks

As U.S. investigators probe whether President Donald Trump's campaign orchestrated a Russia-friendly change to the Republican Party platform last summer, three senior Capitol Hill aides — including Speaker Paul Ryan's chief of staff — may have answers about how the episode unfolded.

The three staffers, who have not been accused of any wrongdoing, advised the GOP convention's platform committee on foreign policy matters and had front-row seats when a low-profile group of delegates, acting in conjunction with Trump campaign officials, spiked a proposal urging a tougher U.S. policy against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

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Colorful Trump associate Sater will cooperate with Feinstein request

Felix Slater to cooperate with Feinstein committee

Russian émigré and one-time Trump associate Felix Sater will cooperate with a request by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to turn over documents and meet with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Mr. Sater intends to be fully cooperative with any and all government investigations in this matter,” Sater’s lawyer, Robert Wolf, told McClatchy via e-mail.

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Kushner got emails about WikiLeaks, Russia in 2016, lawmakers say

Kushner documents demanded by Senate Intel Committee

Jared Kushner received emails in September 2016 about WikiLeaks and about a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” and forwarded them to another campaign official, according to a letter to his attorney from the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Kushner failed to turn over the relevant documents when they asked for them last month.

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House Republicans Pass Tax Bill

House passes tax bill

Trump came to the Capitol on Thursday to rally Republicans and implore them to vote yes (and, apparently, give a maundering speech about his trip to Asia). But his whip efforts, late and unnecessary, didn’t seem to do much to move members.

The same Republicans who have appeared doubtful from the beginning over concerns about eliminating the state and local tax deduction ― mostly Republicans from high-tax states such as New Jersey and New York ― ended up voting against the bill.

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Judge declares mistrial in New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez bribery trial

Menendez mistrialA federal judge declared a mistrial Thursday afternoon in the bribery trial of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez after jurors said they were again deadlocked in the case.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell told U.S. District Judge William Walls that jurors remained unable to reach a unanimous decision — the second time in four days — even though they went through evidence slowly and thoroughly. Lowell said jurors had a strong difference in viewpoints since deliberations began seven days ago.

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Al Franken Apologizes After KABC Radio Anchor Says He Groped, Kissed Her Without Consent

Al Franken accused of groping, kissing radio host

Model and radio host Leeann Tweeden on Thursday accused Sen. Al Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent while they both worked on a USO Tour of the Middle East in 2006 — prompting the Minnesota Democrat to offer his “sincerest apologies.”

Tweeden said Franken, a former star of “Saturday Night Live” who was elected to the Senate in 2009, insisted on practicing a skit in which he’d kiss her on the lips, before they performed it in front of the troops.

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Mitch McConnell Tells Roy Moore To Leave Senate Race, Says ‘I Believe The Women’

McConnell tels Moore to step downSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is now calling on Roy Moore, the Republican running for Alabama’s open Senate seat, to withdraw his candidacy, telling reporters in Louisville on Monday that he believes the women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.

After giving remarks on tax reform efforts, McConnell was asked about the four women who have accused Moore of preying upon them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. Moore has denied any wrongdoing and has not indicated he plans to drop out of the Dec. 12 special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat.

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