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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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As House Intel Committee Republicans’ so-called #ReleaseTheMemo push becomes a full-on GOP obsession on Capitol Hill, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) signaled in a floor speech Wednesday that Senate Republicans have a Russia probe conspiracy memo of their own they’d like to release— this one centered on allegations that Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy behind the Trump-Russia dossier, misled federal authorities.

“Stale, recycled media spin from journalists and pundits who do not have all the facts is not enough. The country is filled with frenzy and speculation, but hungry for facts,” Grassley said, according to prepared remarks released by his office.

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A new lawyer has joined the legal team of former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, who is facing criminal charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, CNN reported Tuesday.

The lawyer, Tom Green, is not listed on the case’s court record yet and has not appeared on any filings. CNN’s report is based on an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

The CNN report goes on to note what it suggests could be signs of negotations between Gates and Mueller.

One of those is that Green was spotted at Mueller’s office twice last week, according the report.

Another, it suggests, is the delay in filing a superseding indictment— a new indictment against an existing defendant, usually with additional counts or parties or both, that replaces the original indictment — in the case.

There’s long been the expectation that a superseding indictment may be filed against Gates, or against his longtime business partner, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is joining Gates in the charges. And CNN reports that, according to a source close to the investigation, superseding indictments against both men have been prepared. But no additional charges have yet been filed.

“When there is a delay in filing charges after they’ve been prepared, it can indicate that negotiations of some nature are ongoing,” CNN notes.

The report also notes that Green has experience cutting plea deals — citing specifically a plea deal he cut for Dennis Hastert — though, according to CNN, Green is also known to take cases to trial.

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A Washington Post report Tuesday sheds new light on the ongoing negotiations between President Trump’s lawyers and Special Counsel Robert Mueller about a potential Trump interview with Mueller’s team.

Citing two people familiar with Mueller’s intentions, the Post reports that the special counsel would like to ask Trump about the ousting of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and ex-FBI Director James Comey.

It has long been suspected that Mueller is interested in whether obstruction of justice occurred in connection with those departures.

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A bill to the end the government shutdown and fund the government through Feb. 8 passed swiftly in the House Monday, 266-150. Having passed the Senate earlier Monday afternoon, the legislation now heads to President Trump’s desk.

The House had last week, on mostly party lines, passed legislation to fund the government for four weeks. However, that bill was stalled by a filibuster by Senate Democrats and a few Senate Republicans early Saturday morning, prompting the three-day government shutdown that will end Monday.

The Senate agreed to reopen government Monday after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered to allow a vote on Senate legislation to address the so-called “DREAMers” — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — if there is not a broader immigration deal between the House and the White House.

Many House Democrats were frustrated that Senate Democrats folded on their filibuster, one of the few places that Democrats have any leverage when Republicans control both chambers and the White House.

Furthermore, House Republicans have made clear that they will not feel obligated to take up any potential bipartisan deal that comes out of the Senate.

“Republicans stayed consistent in our message: we said we would not negotiate resolving the DACA crisis in a shutdown and we’re glad the Democrats came around,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, told TPM has he headed into the vote.

Alice Ollstein contributed reporting

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The Senate voted 81-18 to reopen the government, sending a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 to the House for final passage before it makes it to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

The vote was a foregone conclusion after the legislation made it easily through a 60-vote-threshold procedural vote in the Senate earlier Monday afternoon. There was a slight delay in the final passage vote as a technical issue — having to do with backpay for the furloughed workers during the three-day shutdown — was addressed.

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As the government shutdown approached the end of its second day, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that a vote on a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 will take place at noon ET Monday — as opposed to 1 a.m., as originally scheduled. There is no guarantee that the legislation will earn the 60 votes it will need to overcome a filibuster, however.

In a floor speech announcing the schedule change, McConnell laid out an offer promising that the Senate consider an immigration bill if there is not a larger immigration deal between the Senate, the House and the White House by Feb. 8, assuming that there is not another government shutdown then. He also offered to vote on a spending bill on those terms at 10 p.m. ET Sunday night.

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If congressional leaders and the White House were moving any closer to reopening the government, there weren’t many signs of it on Capitol Hill Saturday evening.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN that he had not talked to President Trump Saturday, after they meet in the Oval Office a day earlier.

“They have not called me. They say they’re not negotiating. That’s foolish,” Schumer said. “I have asked them to bring the big four, myself, Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi to the White House today, but we haven’t heard from them.”

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The Senate has scheduled for 10 p.m. ET a procedural vote to advance the House bill that would fund the government for a month, though the path to avoiding a government shutdown does not look any clearer in the hours leading up to the votes.

The government will shut down at midnight if a spending bill does not pass.

A few Democrats have defected from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) threats to block the bill, but not enough to guarantee the 60 votes the House bill will need move forward. A handful of Republicans have also said they will not vote for the month-long spending bill. Democrats object to how Republicans have shirked continuing an immigration program for young people brought to country illegally as children.

Senate Democrats plan to meet at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Democratic senators confirmed as supporting the GOP bill are Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Doug Jones (AL).

Neither Democrats nor Republicans — including members of the leadership teams — were able to give reporters many details about negotiations to keep the government open. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said earlier Friday evening he wasn’t sure if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Schumer were talking about a potential deal.

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A federal judge didn’t buy the Justice Department’s argument that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach couldn’t speak to what was being done with the data collected by the now-defunct voter fraud commission he led. The judge ordered that Kobach or another commission member file a declaration giving a full explanation.

The declaration will state “what information was collected or created by the
Commission and/or its members on behalf of the Commission, where that information was and is being stored, by whom the information has been accessed, and what plans were made by the Commission to maintain or dispose of the information,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said Thursday.

The order came in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Florida against the commission and Florida last year, for turning over state voter roll data Kobach had requested.

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Republicans senators, at least publicly, put on a confident face while President Trump met with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — without any Republican lawmakers — at the White House as Congress scrambles to avoid a government shutdown, even as it was reported that they were privately worried the two native New Yorkers would cut a deal without them.

“I might feel better if the Speaker [Paul Ryan (R-WI)] were going over too, or the majority leader [Mitch McConnell (R-KY)],” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) admitted, when asked if he was concerned Hill Republicans might get rolled by Trump and Schumer negotiating. “It might be a more efficient way of getting everyone to yes.”

Otherwise he called the meeting a “positive step.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said he wasn’t worried. Cotton last week showed up at a meeting where Trump rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, surprising Democrats who were unaware the immigration hawk had been invited.

“Maybe the President will talk some sense into Senator Schumer and the Democrats to not shut down the government over amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Cotton said Friday.

“This President is a big boy, he can take care of himself,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who joined Cotton in helping scuttle the immigration deal last week.

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