When Jared Kushner sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years. He did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest. (NYT)
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Judge Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice of the Supreme Court, capping a political brawl that lasted for more than a year and tested constitutional norms inside the Capitol’s fraying upper chamber.(NYT)
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The legal battle between Twitter and the U.S. government ended Friday as the Department of Homeland Security withdrew its demand that the tech company release information to identify an account holder whose tweets have been critical of President Trump. (WP)
The majority of House Freedom Caucus members will vote for a Republican healthcare bill if changes offered by the White House are included in the legislation, the head of the conservative group of House Republicans said on Thursday. (Reuters)
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Russia on Friday froze a critical agreement on military cooperation with the United States in Syria after an American military strike, warning that the operation would further corrode already dismal relations between Moscow and Washington. (NYT)
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FCC chairman Ajit Pai has briefed telecom trade associations on his plans to scale back net neutrality rules. Pai’s plans will apparently maintain the basic concept of net neutrality, but will move the enforcement of the rules back to the Federal Trade Commission, rather than the FCC. The new rules would supposedly see telecom companies voluntarily pledging to follow the principles of net neutrality, providing equal access to all traffic, with offenders receiving some form of punishment for unfair practices from the FTC. (The Verge)
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The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes ordered by President Donald Trump against a Syrian airbase controlled by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in response to a deadly chemical attack in a rebel-held area, a U.S. official said on Thursday. (Reuters)
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Senate Republicans on Thursday voted to strip Democrats of the power to filibuster President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, invoking the so-called nuclear option. Senators voted 52-48 along party lines to change the Senate’s precedent, lowering the threshold for advancing Neil Gorsuch from 60 votes to a simple majority.
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Democrats successfully blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court from advancing in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, sparking a bitter clash with Republicans over how the chamber confirms high court nominees. (WP)
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Mike Conaway is replacing Devine Nune to head an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including interactions between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Conaway has compared the use of Mexican entertainers to energize Democratic voters to the email hacking that officials say was orchestrated by Vladimir Putin’s government. (Dallas News)
House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes is now himself under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. The panel is looking into claims that the Republican disclosed classified intelligence. Mr Nunes called the charges “entirely false” and “politically motivated”. (BBC)
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will temporarily step aside from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including interactions between Moscow and the Trump campaign. The probe will be taken over by Reps. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.). (Via Politico)
Hopes of reviving the Republicans’ failed healthcare plan surged briefly on Tuesday when the vice-president, Mike Pence, came to Capitol Hill in an attempt to forge a new compromise that could somehow pass the House of Representatives. But the late night talks between Pence and members of competing factions of the House Republican caucus stalled and no deal was reached. A hoped-for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, returned to the grave and recriminations began anew on Capitol Hill. (The Guardian)
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“We will follow two simple rules: BUY AMERICAN & HIRE AMERICAN!” he tweeted 55 minutes after taking the oath of office on Inauguration Day. In the first big test of that pledge, here’s the reality: The Trump administration has opened the doors for firms from Mexico, El Salvador and other free-trade treaty countries to supply big-ticket items for the wall, the barrier along the United States’ southern border that Trump made a centerpiece of his campaign. The wall is expected to cost Americans over $21 billion in form of various cuts made to agencies that protect Americans. (via ProPublica)
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“That’s not how you make America great, by taking $1.2 billion from the children and robbing them blind,” Arnold Schwarzenegger said in front of hundreds of program leaders at the National After-School Summit at the University of Southern California’s Schwarzenegger Institute. Schwarzenegger on Wednesday challenged President Donald Trump’s proposed $1.2 billion in cuts to after-school programs, arguing that the president is attempting to “balance the budget on the backs” of America’s vulnerable low-income children. (Politico)
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In an interview with ProPublica, Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten confirmed that President Trump can withdraw profits and underlying assets from his trust at any time. He also said the president has been able to withdraw money since Trump took office on Jan. 20. That language was not included in a Jan. 26 summary of the trust — what’s known as a trust certification — but was included in a Feb. 10 version of the document. (Pro Publica)
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The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson (R) to serve as secretary of the Air Force. Senators voted 22-5 following an executive session to approve Wilson to serve as the top civilian official in the Air Force, sending her nomination to the full Senate. Wilson is expected to easily win confirmation after senators questioned her last week on ethics issues related to her time as a defense industry consultant with a Lockheed Martin subsidiary. (The Hill)
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Sen. John McCain said Tuesday the Trump administration’s decision to no longer prioritize ending the Syrian civil war is “another disgraceful chapter in American history.” “(Syrian President) Bashar Assad and his friends, the Russians, take note of what Americans say,” the Arizona Republican told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “I’m sure they took note of what our Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) said just the other day that the Syrian people would be determining their own future themselves — one of the more incredible statements I’ve ever heard.” (CNN)
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Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that he doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria occurred shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad could remain in power. (CNN)
President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing. (Washington Post) (Bloomberg)
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