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A judge threw out an activist’s conviction on charges of laughing at Jeff Sessions, though the attorney general’s slap with a white glove is still working its way through the appellate system. As if the country didn’t hate the Republican plans for health care enough, they’ve now starting working the New England Patriots into the equation. And President Trump’s week was already bade before a late-afternoon thunderstorm swept through D.C., meaning the commander-in-chief’s work week ended with the swamp literally being filled. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, July 14th, 2017:
IN SOVIET RUSSIA, AGENTS COMPROMISE YOU - Ken Dilanian, Natasha Lebedeva and Hallie Jackson: “The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned. The lobbyist, first identified by the Associated Press as Rinat Akhmetshin, denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign. Born in Russia, Akhmetshin served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship. He did not respond to NBC News requests for comment Friday, but he told the AP the meeting was not substantive. ‘I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,’ he told the AP.” [NBC News]
WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE DAY - Lives of not-so-quiet desperation being lived out in the upper chamber. Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett: ”Republicans view a successful vote on starting debate [on the Senate health care bill] — expected to be held as soon as Tuesday — as a victory in its own right, even if the bill dies down the road. Their strategy is to go one vote, one day at a time. And each day that a third senator, or pack of senators, doesn’t oppose the bill, it’s one day closer to an overall victory. Leadership also may be hoping that once the bill gets to the floor and faces a final vote, GOP senators will be unable to resist the pressure to repeal Obamacare. One Republican compared the strategy to New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick’s infamous ‘On to Cincinnati’ press conference, in which the coach ignored criticisms of the team’s 2-2 start by repeatedly focusing on the next game in Cincinnati. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.” [Politico]
The hunt is on to find Senate GOP moderates’ spines. “For all of the signs that the GOP health care bill is on life support, a key fact should still frighten Obamacare proponents: None of the so-called moderate Republican senators who could kill the bill have done so…. For all of the signs that the GOP health care bill is on life support, a key fact should still frighten Obamacare proponents: None of the so-called moderate Republican senators who could kill the bill have done so.” [HuffPost’s Daniel Marans]
ALOHA, GRANDMA AND GRANDPA - Matt Zapotosky: “Grandparents and other extended relatives are exempt from President Trump’s travel ban, a federal judge in Hawaii declared late Thursday, again stopping the administration from implementing the president’s controversial executive order in the way that it wants. U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson wrote that the government’s ‘narrowly defined list’ of who might be exempt was not supported by either the Supreme Court decision partially unfreezing the ban or by the law.″ [WaPo]
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INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE LOOKING INTO ANTI-CLINTON OPERATIVE WITH TIES TO FLYNN - Sebastian Murdock: ”The Senate intelligence committee reportedly plans to investigate the work of a GOP operative who was researching Hillary Clinton’s emails and killed himself earlier this year. Peter Smith, an 81-year-old financier from Lake Forest, Illinois, had a long history of conducting opposition research. In the ’90s, Smith set his sights on President Bill Clinton, finding and helping publicize allegations about his sex life. More recently, Smith said he was looking into obtaining emails he said Russian hackers had stolen from Hillary Clinton. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal just days before his death in May, Smith implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn ― who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser before resigning in February ― on the research. He told reporter Shane Harris that he was conducting his research independently from the Trump campaign. The Senate intelligence committee said it is ‘very interested’ in Smith’s opposition research. ‘The committee will want to speak with or get documents from everybody associated with the Peter Smith operation,’ a source close to the committee told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday.” [HuffPost]
GUNS! MORE GUNS! - Dana Liebelson and Jennifer Bendery: ”[A]fter a gunman opened fire on GOP lawmakers during baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, last month, House Republicans introduced a flurry of bills that would let them carry concealed weapons almost anywhere. For [Florida Congressman Ted] Yoho, carrying a concealed gun is just like having a cell phone in his pocket. He’s usually armed when he’s home…. ‘I think it’s a good idea. I have the right to protect myself,’ Yoho told HuffPost. ‘I feel like I have very good aim. My wife is better.’ The bills that Yoho’s colleagues are pushing — there are at least three of them — vary slightly. One would let members of Congress carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the country, including in the Capitol, with a permit. (There are a few exceptions ― for instance, where the Secret Service prohibits it.) Another bill would allow the lawmakers to carry a concealed gun almost anywhere and let the U.S. Capitol Police make the rules about carrying inside the Capitol. A third bill would let the lawmakers carry a gun anywhere in the United States, except for the Capitol.” [HuffPost]
HOUSE PLANS VOTE ON ‘CANDY FROM A BABY ACT’ - Rachael Bade, Sarah Ferris and Jennifer Scholtes: “House GOP leaders will decide next week whether to brave an ugly floor fight over a massive GOP spending bill — a proposal applauded by some rank-and-file Republicans but that risks embarrassment if it fails…. Starting Monday, leadership will begin a tentative whip count on whether lawmakers would vote for a package before the August recess that combines all of those [spending] bills into one $1 trillion government funding bill…. Lawmakers would be required to vote on controversial amendments that could be used against them in their districts, from provisions on the Confederate flag to gay rights proposals that put them in bind. Democratic amendments chiding the administration for the Russia controversy are almost assured.” [Politico]
C’MON PEOPLE, KEEP THOSE PRAYERS GENERAL - Yadda yadda yadda, watch over us and bless us, yadda yadda yadda, so that we may serve the yadda yadda yadda. You get the deal. Nick Wing: ”A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that a government prayer practice in North Carolina was unconstitutional because a local board of commissioners only allowed its elected representatives, all of whom are Christian, to deliver religious invocations. For years, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners has opened its twice-monthly meetings with a prayer delivered by one of its five members. The prayers are ‘invariably and unmistakably Christian in content,’ according to the ruling, and a review of recorded meetings showed that 97 percent of the invocations mentioned ‘Jesus,’ ‘Christ’ or the ‘Savior.’ Prayers also occasionally implied Christianity was superior to other faiths, or proselytized by asking attendees to accept the Christian faith. In a 10-5 ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Rowan County’s practice violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and exceeded the limits of Supreme Court-approved legislative prayer.” [HuffPost]
LAUGHTER NOT ILLEGAL, JUDGE RULES - Ryan J. Reilly: ”A D.C. judge has tossed out a jury’s conviction of a protester who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing, finding on Friday that the government had improperly argued during the trial that her laughter was enough to merit a guilty verdict. The judge ordered a new trial in the case, setting a court date for Sept. 1. Desiree Fairooz, 61, who was associated with the group Code Pink, had been convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct and demonstrating inside the Capitol. Fairooz was taken into custody during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January after she laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed Sessions had a ‘clear and well-documented’ record of ‘treating all Americans equally under the law.’ (The Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship in the 1980s over concerns about his views on race.)” [HuffPost]
WHEN YOU’VE LOST KRAUTHAMMER… - Well, you’ve lost maybe a handful of George Mason alums and some HASC staffers, but still. Rebecca Shapiro: “Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer once again criticized Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in 2016 after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton obtained by the Russian government. Krauthammer, speaking Thursday on ‘Special Report With Bret Baier’ on Fox News, said the emails Trump Jr. released earlier this week ‘totally undermine a six-month story from the White House...that there wasn’t any collusion.’ He added, ’This was a bungled collusion. This was amateurish collusion. This was Keystone Kops collusion. But it doesn’t change the fact that it was attempted collusion and it undoes the White House story completely.’” [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s Alex Jones as Bon Iver.
MAYBE DEATH ISN’T SO BAD - Paige Lavender: “President Donald Trump truly outdid himself while parting ways with French President Emmanuel Macron, taking part in a handshake that lasted almost half a minute and could only be described as awkward. Trump and Macron gripped each other Friday after watching the French National Day Parade with Macron’s wife, Brigitte, and Trump’s wife, Melania. As the group walked away from the event, Trump and Macron shook hands ― but Trump didn’t leave it at that. Trump took the handshake up a notch with a solid hand pat before employing the jerk-and-pull move Trump’s become known for. Trump then pulled Macron toward him, almost causing the French president to lose his balance.” [HuffPost]
- Someone FOIA’d the CIA about its dress code.
- A helicopter turned into a hotel room.
- Never forget the great balloon disaster of 1986.
@peitridishes: there wasn’t a russian in the meeting
we were a-taking it slow
save to drafts
@atrios: reminder: trump went to the University of Pennsylvania. All hail the meritocracy and Ivy League educations
@ericgarland: Wow, it looks like there were more people at the Russia hacker meeting than there were at Trump’s inauguration.
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