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Tuesday, Feb 20th

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White House to Congress: Russia sanctions not needed now

Trump tells Congress he won't impost sanctions on Russia despite bill

The Trump administration informed lawmakers Monday that new Russia sanctions called for in a bipartisan bill passed last year are not necessary yet because the measure is already "serving as a deterrent."

The announcement came as lawmakers in both parties nudged the administration to implement a sanctions legislation that passed overwhelmingly in July — with only five no votes in both the House and Senate. The sanctions bill requires the imposition of penalties by Monday against entities doing "significant" business with Moscow's defense and intelligence sectors, unless Congress is notified that prospective targets are "substantially reducing" that business.

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House intelligence panel votes to release classified Nunes memo about FBI eavesdropping

Nunes memo to be releasedThe House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to to make public a classified memo about some of the government's most sensitive secrets, prompting Democrats to accuse the Republican majority of playing politics with national security to protect President Donald Trump.

Republicans have said the Republican-written memo examines how the FBI eavesdrops on suspects in national security investigations. They say it shows corruption in the FBI that is "worse than Watergate," proving that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is based on a fraud.

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Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen To Retire

Rodney Frelinghuysen, Appropriations Chair, will not seek another term Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a 12-term Republican from New Jersey and chairman of the most sought-after committee in Congress ― the Appropriations Committee ― announced Monday that he would not run for re-election.

Frelinghuysen’s announcement was a bit of surprise, considering he could still serve as the top Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee for another four years under House GOP rules. But faced with the prospect of a tough race ― Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in that district by only 1 point in 2016 ― as well as internal discussions about removing Frelinghuysen as chairman after he voted against the party’s tax bill, the 71-year-old GOP moderate decided to call it quits.

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Mark Warner: ‘We’ve Had New Information That Raises More Questions’

Maark WarnerCongress late last year received “extraordinarily important new documents” in its investigation of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s possible collusion with the 2016 Russian election hacking, opening up significant new lines of inquiry in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe of the president, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) says in an exclusive new interview.

Warner, the intel committee’s top Democrat, says “end-of-the-year document dumps” produced “very significant” revelations that “opened a lot of new questions” that Senate investigators are now looking into, meaning the inquiry into Trump and the Russia hacking—already nearly a year old—will not be finished for months longer. “We’ve had new information that raises more questions,” Warner says in the interview, an extensive briefing on the state of the Senate’s Trump-Russia probe for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs.

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Lindsey Graham: FBI Memo Should Not Be Released Yet

Lindsay Graham says not to release memoSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday came out against the release of a classified memo that President Trump and his Republican allies believe will show bias in the FBI’s Russia investigation. Graham broke with Trump on the issue, who reportedly attempted to order the Justice Department to release the document.

“No, I don't want it released yet,” Graham said on ABC’s This Week. “I want somebody outside of the Republican-led Congress to look at these allegations,” he said. The document reportedly contains allegations of misconduct by senior FBI officials involved in investigating Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with Russia, a fact which Democrats say could be used to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.

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Top Dems demand answers from State Department after employees cite career concerns

Elijah Cummings D-Md.

Democratic lawmakers are urging the State Department's Inspector General to probe the department's personnel practices after several employees voiced concerns their careers were being stalled because of their past work under the Obama administration.

"Our staffs have been made aware of credible allegations that the State Department has required high-level career civil servants, with distinguished records, serving administrations of both parties, to move to performing tasks outside their area of substantive expertise," the Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and the Ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a letter obtained by CNN.

"At the very least, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. At worst it may constitute impermissible abuse and retaliation."

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Grassley plans to release Trump Jr. interview transcript

Grassley to release Kushner testimony

The Senate Judiciary Committee will soon release the transcript of its interview with Donald Trump Jr. as well as other witness testimony related to a controversial 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday.

Grassley's comments come the day after two Democrats on the committee publicly pressed for the release of the panel's closed-door interview transcripts to special counsel Robert Mueller. Even as partisan disputes roil the House's Russia investigation, Grassley's alignment with Democrats on releasing the transcripts signals that the Senate — for now, at least — remains in a more collaborative mode.

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