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Shit Just Got Real

The Senate Intelligence Committee examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election may turn out to be the seminal investigation of the Trump presidency. This afternoon’s press conference by the chair and ranking member put Trump himself squarely in the crosshairs and, in stark contrast to the circus on the House side, suggested a seriousness of purpose that the Trump White House won’t be able to parry with bombast and misdirection. No congressional committee investigation is perfect or pure, but clearly the Senate probe is where the action will be. Here’s what we learned.

Ominous

How far will the Trump administration go to undermine Obamacare administratively after the repeal-and-replace debacle? HHS Secretary Tom Price was sending some pretty strong signals in a hearing on Capitol Hill today.

The Gravity Is Strong, Part #2

One of the most consistent things about the Trump/Russia story is the way that what we might call "the evidence" is so frequently outstripped by the explanations for it and reactions to it in driving a fair-minded person's suspicion that something just ain't right. This isn't to say "the evidence" doesn't hold its own weight; it does just fine. But the inability to give even remotely straight answers, the need for deflections and subterfuges that are demonstrably preposterous (Manafort was a marginal figure in the campaign) keeps coming up again and again.

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Interesting Timing

Perhaps the White House had planned all along for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make an appearance at today's press briefing to rail against sanctuary cities. But the timing is consistent with what I've long feared will be the impulse for the Trump administration: When the going gets rough (failed Obamacare repeal, low poll numbers, etc), it will fall back on appeals to racism and xenophobia to regain political footing.

With so much incompetence taking root, it's not difficult to envision a scenario where those base appeals must become more amped up, extreme, and scurrilous to be "effective." It threatens to turn into a vicious cycle the likes of which we've never seen in this country.

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