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Referencing the 2016 tax bill’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, Trump claimed that he had “repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare.”

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President Donald Trump last summer attempted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the New York Times reported Thursday, but the President backed off after White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit over the move.

The New York Times report is based on four people told of the matter, and it comes after Mueller’s team conducted a series of interviews suggesting that the special counsel was examining possible obstruction of justice allegations against Trump.

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A comment made by President Trump during a surprise gaggle with reporters Wednesday afternoon revealed how he views the allegations that he obstructed the investigation into Russian election meddling.

Asked if he thought Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be fair to him, Trump said “I hope so,” but only after he the compared obstruction of justice allegations to him fighting back.

“Because here’s what we’ll say, and everybody says: No collusion. There’s no collusion,” Trump said. “Now they’re saying, “Oh, well, ‘Did he fight back? Did he fight back?’ You fight back, ‘Oh, it’s obstruction.’ So, here’s the thing: I hope so.”

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A Wednesday letter signed by a Trump appointee in the Department of Justice blasted House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) for not allowing the DOJ to review an anti-FBI memo as House Republicans push for the document’s public release.

The letter, from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, revealed that the House Intel Committee had turned down FBI Director Christopher Wray’s “personal appeal” to review the memo. It also suggested that Nunes himself has not read the underlying intelligence that it is said to form the basis of the four-page memo.

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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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