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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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Update: This story has been updated to include a response from the Department of Homeland Security.

President Trump’s voter fraud commission disclosed Friday more information about instances of internal communications among commission members, but not the content of the communications themselves. The disclosures came as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the panel.

The Justice Department, which is defending the commission, filed court documents that included a chart that noted emails and other types of communications sent among members, staff and administration officials. The commission is being sued by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for allegedly failing to meet government transparency guidelines.

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The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee bashed Twitter Thursday for an “inadequate” and “deeply disappointing” presentation the social meeting company gave earlier Thursday morning to the committee staff investigating Russian election meddling.

“I am more than a bit surprised, in light of all the public interest in this subject over the last few weeks, that anyone from the Twitter team would think that the presentation they made to the Senate staff today even began to answer the kind of questions that we’d asked,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told reporters.

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Representatives for Twitter arrived in a Senate office building Thursday morning to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staff as part of its investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.

After the Senate Intel interview, Twitter is also expected to meet with the staff of the House Intelligence Committee, as part of its own Russia probe.

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The House Intelligence Committee announced Wednesday that it plans to hold an open hearing on Russia with representatives from tech companies in the “coming months,” although it is unclear when exactly the hearing will be, which tech firms have been invited and whether those firms will agree to appear voluntarily.

The hearing will be about “how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election,” according to a statement from Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Republican and Democrat leading the committee’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) has recused himself from the probe.

“Congress and the American people need to hear this important information directly from these companies,” the statement read.

Scrutiny on how the Russians used social media to influence the 2016 campaign has increased since Facebook disclosed that about 3,000 ads were purchased by some 500 inauthentic Russian-linked accounts. Facebook has reportedly turned over information about the ads to special counsel Robert Mueller, and also is cooperating with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s efforts to understand more about Russia’s campaign-related activities on Facebook. Twitter, too, reportedly is meeting with Senate Intel investigators behind closed doors this week.

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At least one of the Facebook ads that were purchased by a Kremlin-linked troll factory during the 2016 campaign promoted the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Politico reported Tuesday, while others boosted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign even after he dropped out of the race.

“Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” one ad says, according to Politico. “Trust me. It’s not a wasted vote. … The only way to take our country back is to stop voting for the corporations and banks that own us. #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein.”

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A group of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said in letter to the Justice Department Tuesday that the DOJ had not responded to previous requests for information in July and August, related to concerns that the Department was becoming politicized on voting rights and educational issues.

Their letter Tuesday also requested more information about any DOJ coordination with President Trump’s voter fraud commission, which was also the subject of their July request. Since then, a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a private group surfaced a February email that was forwarded to Attorney General Jeff Session from a conservative activist, who was later appointed to the commission, demanding that Democrats and even “mainstream” Republicans not be selected for the panel.

“These developments underscore the concerns many of us have raised about a return to the illegal politicization of the Department’s Civil Rights Division that took place under the Bush administration, and raise questions about the role of Department leadership in the formation and operation of this nakedly partisan commission,” the Democrats said.

The letter was signed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

The Judiciary Democrats’ letter Tuesday sought more information about the exchange, as well as any other communications between current DOJ officials and other commission members as well as Bush-era DOJ officials who were involved in the politicized hiring scandal.

It also lodged more general requests about the “Department’s process for responding to Congressional inquiries.”

The letter Judiciary Democrats sent in July sought information about any coordination between the DOJ and the election commission on letters both entities sent out to state officials on June 28: the DOJ’s letter was about National Voter Registration Act compliance; the commission’s letter sought voter roll data. An for the DOJ has denied there was any coordination.

In August, they asked for more information about a report in the New York Times that the DOJ was seeking to file lawsuits against universities for their affirmative action programs and the project was being run out of the “front office,” meaning by Trump administration political appointees.

Both requests for information, according to the latest letter, were not met with a response from the DOJ.

“As outlined here, we continue to have serious concerns – as to both process and substance – about the Department’s apparent coordination with the thoroughly discredited Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, as well as its failures to respond to our numerous oversight requests,” the Democrats said.

The DOJ has recently responded to a FOIA request from the non-profit group the Campaign Legal Center. Seeking documents related to voter fraud allegations in the 2016 election, the Campaign Legal Center received earlier this month an email sent from a Heritage Foundation scholar whose name was redacted to a recipient whose name was also redacted. According to the chain of emails released to the non-profit, the Heritage email was eventually forwarded to Sessions.

Heritage later confirmed that the email had been sent by Hans von Spakovsky, a former Bush administration official whose known for pushing restrictive election laws. Spakovsky, now a member of the voter fraud commission, has denied that he was emailing the attorney general. Due to the redactions in the FOIA release, it’s unclear exactly how the email was forwarded to Sessions.

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Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone emerged out of a closed-door, three-hour-plus interview with the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday and told reporters that he answered “all” of their questions except one.

“The only question I declined to answer,” Stone said, was about the identity of a journalist he has claimed was an intermediary between him and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Stone, who is known for his wily relationship with the press and his flair for fashion, answered reporters’ questions after his interview for more than 10 minutes. He repeated what he previously told Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff, that he would not identify the Assange intermediary. He recounted what his attorneys have been told about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Paul Manafort, who was once Stone’s partner at a lobbying firm.

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Since Republicans embarked on their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the question of how to handle preexisting conditions has roiled their negotiations. On the one hand, GOP leaders including President Trump have repeatedly sworn to protect sick people’s access to affordable insurance. On the other hand, Republicans have consistently folded to the demands of conservatives to gut those protections. The tradeoff that Republicans have not figured out is how to lower premiums for healthy people without screwing over those with expensive health care issues.

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The Congressional Budget Office on Monday said that the last-ditch Obamacare repeal bill Senate Republicans would result in “millions” fewer people with “comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events.”

“That number could vary widely depending on how states implemented the legislation, although the direction of the effect is clear,” the CBO said in its preliminary report of the bill, known as the Graham-Cassidy proposal, for its sponsors Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham.

Because the CBO was working on a tight deadline — Republicans hope to vote on the bill by the end of this week  — it said it it could not provide specific numbers on the coverage losses.

“CBO and JCT would need at least several weeks to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, and premiums,” it said.

Nonetheless, it pointed to three main reasons that coverage would drop drastically if the Graham-Cassidy bill became law: its cuts Medicaid funding; coverage losses in the individual market because insurance subsidies would be less generous; and the elimination of the penalty for people who do not have insurance.

The report will likely to little to address the concerns hesitant GOP senators have had about the hasty process leading up to the bill or its substance. Additionally the CBO appears to have analyzed an outdated version of the proposal, and it’s not clear how tweaks made to the revised version would affect its general conclusions.

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The latest version of the last-ditch Senate Obamacare repeal bill is — not surprisingly — a mess, and one of the areas bringing the most confusion and inconsistency is what the legislation has to say about protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

As Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley pointed out, those provisions appear to be sloppily drafted, and in some places, contradictory of one another. But according to Bagley and other health care experts, the ambiguity probably does not matter at the end of day if you look at another, particularly wonky provision: one allowing for states to permit insurers to operate separate risk pools.

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