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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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The federal government agency that owns the building housing President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel has determined that it does not violate the terms of its lease.

The General Services Administration’s ruling comes as a huge blow for watchdog groups and Democrats who've charged that Trump’s presidency put his company in breach of the lease, which states that an elected official may not be involved with or benefit from the agreement.

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) apologized to his colleagues behind closed doors Thursday after going straight to the media and then the White House to claim that Trump transition staffers’ communications were “incidentally” picked up by the U.S. intelligence community, according to one Democrat on the committee.

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UPDATE 6:16 p.m.: Schiff addressed these new reports in a press briefing and CNN appearance later Wednesday.

In his second hastily called press briefing on Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) did little to quell a storm of speculation he kicked up hours earlier by divulging that the intelligence community “incidentally collected” information about President Donald Trump and his staff during the transition.

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Paul who?

The White House is going to great lengths to put distance between President Donald Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as a series of explosive news reports emerge detailing the millions of dollars he received from a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin and a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Manafort, a key member of the Trump campaign for six months, played “a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” By Wednesday morning, Spicer was refusing to even say Manafort’s name, telling NBC News that “it would be inappropriate for us to comment on a person who is not a White House employee.”

Yet Trump’s ties to Manafort predate the 2016 campaign, and appear to have stretched well into the post-election transition period. FBI Director James Comey confirmed this week that the bureau is investigating ties between Trump’s associates and Russian officials, including whether there was any "cooperation" between the two, casting a cloud over the administration as it tries to shepherd the GOP's long-promised Obamacare repeal bill through Congress. Manafort is reportedly at the heart of this probe.

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