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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is still going hard after Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who compiled the so-called Trump dossier.

After referring Steele to the Justice Department last month for criminal prosecution, Grassley was back at it Monday, publicly releasing a heavily redacted version of a memo alleging that Steele materially misled the FBI about his contacts with the media.

Grassley released his memo, which he sent Justice Department last month with the criminal referral for Steele, after receiving permission from the FBI to do so, with redactions. He unveiled it Monday alongside a letter to the Justice Department seeking that the department declassify the material redacted in the memo.

“The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding,” Grassley said in a press release accompanying the memo and the letter.

Grassley’s desire to release a memo impugning Steele echoes the efforts of House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, whose widely-debunked memo released last week alleged the FBI misled a surveillance court about its use of Steele’s research in a Russia probe FISA application.

With the redactions, it’s hard to make out exactly what Grassley is accusing Steele of. However, the unredacted portions of his memo reference fall 2016 media reports on Steele’s work, as well as statements Steele has made in a British lawsuits about his media contacts during that period.

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A memo written by the staff of House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) accuses the Justice Department of a “troubling breakdown” in the process it used to secure a warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign advisor. But the memo omits sourcing for many of the claims it makes, casting doubt on some of its key assertions.

The memo was released Friday afternoon after being declassified by President Trump.

Democrats have argued that the GOP cherry-picked information from classified documents the Justice Department turned over to the committee. The FBI has also said the memo was misleading and inaccurate, making Trump’s decision to release it a major confrontation with his own agency.

As had been reported before its release, the memo focuses on a warrant, known as a FISA warrant, that the Justice Department sought in order to surveil former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, after he left the campaign in the fall of 2016. It links the warrant to the dossier put together by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, as part of an oppo-research project into Trump funded at the time by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

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Three attorneys representing former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates in charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller are seeking to withdraw from representing him, in a motion filed Thursday.

However, it is unclear why they have sought to quit. Their motion says that their reasons to withdraw “immediately” are listed in an exhibit that they have sought to file under seal.

The three attorneys quitting Gates’ legal team are Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy.

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Since Monday, when the House Intel Committee voted to send Chairman Devin Nunes’ anti-FBI memo to the White House where it would be considered for public release, it’s been widely assumed President Trump would not be inclined to block it. This was seemingly confirmed when a hot mic picked him up telling a GOP lawmaker after the State of the Union that he was “100 percent” on board a releasing of the memo.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still questions about its path to publication.

How the memo is released will likely affect when the memo is released, and could also determine how much flexibility others will have in discussing its claims. The memo is said to accuse the FBI of abusing the process known as FISA to seek a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Democrats and even the FBI have warned that it is misleading and inaccurate, but because the underlying intelligence is classified, it will be difficult for legislators or the FBI to provide the public with a full rebuttal.

Trump could choose to declassify the memo — either with additional redactions, or as is — which would give a little bit more wiggle room for lawmakers — and perhaps the FBI — to discuss its claims. Once it’s declassified the White House could release it directly, or could send it back over to the House to release, NBC News reported.

Or he could signal that he has no objection to Congress releasing it, but leave the matter entirely in the House’s hands. In that scenario, the House of Representatives would release it by reading it from the House floor or into the congressional record, according to NBC News’s Mike Memoli. That process would have to wait for when Congress is back in session — likely not until Monday at the earliest.

On MSNBC Thursday afternoon, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), a Republican on the House Intelligence committee who supports the memo’s release, said he would very much prefer for the President to go through a declassification process.

“We need the President to actually declassify the document because imagine this: If it’s just released publicly, you can actually read it for yourself. I can stand here in front of the cameras, and because it actually still maintains its classification — even though it might be all over the internet — I still can’t talk about the contents,” he said.

Comments by a senior administration to the White House pool reporter on Air Force One did not make entirely clear which route the President would take, but the official said that the President would let Congress know he’s OK with its release, “probably tomorrow.”

“The President is OK with it,” the official said, according to the pool report. “I doubt there will be any redactions. It’s in Congress’ hands after that.”

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has shed light on what may be driving the Trump administration’s push to ask about citizenship in the 2020 Census.

In an op-ed written for Breitbart, Kobach endorses an approach to drawing voting districts in a way that would undermine the political power of immigrant-heavy communities. That approach, which culminated in a 2016 Supreme Court case, emerges from decades-old conservative opposition to the priniciple of “one person, one vote.”

Kobach, a Republican who led President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, is known for pushing restrictive voting laws.

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The Democratic National Committee, in a court filing Wednesday, indicated it planned to appeal a court’s decision letting the Republican National Committee get out from under the consent decree barring so-called “ballot integrity” activities.

The underlying case is decades old, and stems from a 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election in which the RNC and the New Jersey GOP was accused of voter intimidation tactics targeting minority voters. A lawsuit brought by the Democrats resulted in the 1982 consent decree prohibiting the RNC and New Jersey GOP from poll watching and other related election day “ballot security” activities at voting sites. After the the decree was extended multiple times because of GOP violations of it, it was allowed to expire last month.

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The Democratic voter fraud commissioner who sued the now-defunct panel last year claiming it had shut him out of its operations is now asking a court to allow him to serve a subpoena on its one-time leader so that records related to the lawsuit are not destroyed.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in the filing that he is concerned that the commission’s co-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, will not preserve internal communications a judge had previously ordered he handed over.

“Defendant Kobach’s record with respect to compliance—even with court orders—is spotty, to say the least,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap cited a fine Kobach had to pay in a seperate lawsuit, after misleading the judge, as well as the Justice Department’s posture in his case, in which it has argued that it cannot compel Kobach to turn over the documents but has asked him to save them.

Furthermore, Dunlap said that he did not receive a letter the Justice Department claimed to have sent to all of the commissioners asking that they preserve their commission records as the litigation continues. Regardless, Dunlap said, a letter “cannot stand in the place of judicial process that creates legally-enforceable obligations.”

In short, DOJ has disavowed any authority to legally obligate individual commissioners to preserve or return Commission records in their sole possession, and—though Secretary Dunlap rejects these contentions—based on its own position, DOJ believes it is currently powerless to prevent the destruction or loss of documents and information,” Dunlap said.

Trump dissolved the commission in early January, as it faced a flurry of lawsuits alleging a lack of transparency, among other things.

Dunlap filed his lawsuit in November, and in late December, a judge ordered that the commission turn over the communications Dunlap had been seeking.

Since the commission’s termination, the Justice Department has been in a multi-front legal battle fending off to new challenges brought against it, many based on statements Kobach made to the press about the future of his inquiry.

A letter from DOJ attorneys to Dunlap’s legal team included in the latest filing, indicates that they saw no “legal basis” for the document preservation subpoena.

“[I]t is difficult to understand why DOJ is opposing the issuance of a subpoena that seeks only to protect the Government’s interest in the preservation of Commission records that are outside the custody of the federal government, nor is it clear why DOJ is advancing arguments that seek only to protect Defendant Kobach—an individual whom DOJ claims is no longer a client—from judicial process,” Dunlap argued in the filing.

Read the full filing below:

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The White House is no longer acting like it plans to give a shady intelligence memo put together by House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes a thorough review before deciding whether to publicly release it.

On Fox News Radio Wednesday morning, President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly said that the four-page memo “will be released here pretty quick.” He said White House lawyers are currently examining it “so that we know what it means and what it understands.”

But his remarks suggested its release was a matter of when, not if.

“This president, again, it’s so unique that he wants everything out so the American people can make up their own minds and if there’s people to be held accountable, then so be it,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s comment comes after Trump himself, as he exited his State of the Union  Tuesday night, was picked up on hot mic telling a Republican lawmaker, “Don’t worry, 100 percent,” when asked about releasing the memo.

Just prior to Trump’s speech, White House aides had told reporters that Trump had not yet read the memo. Administration aides had told CBS News earlier Tuesday that representatives from the Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were all involved in review that would produce a recommendation from the White House counsel’s office as to whether it should be released.

Republicans have been hyping the four-page memo as evidence of misconduct by the FBI over the course of its Russia probe. Democrats have said that its misleading, but that because the underlying intelligence is classified, it will be difficult to provide to the public a full rebuttal to its claims. Nonetheless, they have compiled a counter-memo offering more context that they hope to release in the days to come. House Intel Republicans blocked their move to release both memos at the same time.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has also communicated to the White House that the memo is inaccurate and misleading in its claims, according to Bloomberg.

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As House Republicans prepare to release a four-page memo they claim shows the Justice Department misbehaved in seeking to surveil a Trump campaign adviser, the allegations are already drawing extreme skepticism and outright mockery from former government officials and outside experts.

“None of those pushing this are in any other way acting like they believe what they’re saying,” Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told TPM.

“You just have this wider and wider net: they all perjured themselves, they all opened themselves to criminal liability,” former FBI counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa said, referring to the allegations against the FBI. “It makes no sense.”

“It suggests to me that the goal here is not expose a scandal, but the goal is to impugn the credibility of the relevant actors and to satisfy an existing narrative,” said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor who specializes in national security issues.

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If President Trump has any plans for another push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he did not make them known in his State of the Union address Tuesday, which included only one reference to Obamacare — a law Republicans for years promised to dismantle

Referencing the 2016 tax bill’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, Trump claimed that he had “repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare.”

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