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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s choice to be a federal judge in Alabama, has withdrawn from consideration, a White House official said Wednesday.

He is the first failed judicial nominee for the new administration, but he is likely to be joined shortly by Jeff Mateer, a Texas assistant attorney general who was nominated to be a district judge in his state.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has moved quickly to approve Trump’s proposed judges, but he said Monday that he would not hold a hearing for Mateer and would oppose confirming Talley in the full Senate.

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(Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his investigation into Russian meddling into last year’s presidential campaign, said Wednesday the case has been handled “appropriately.”

Rosenstein’s defense of Mueller came during a House Judiciary Committee hearing as Republicans try to portray the special counsel as tainted by partisan bias against President Trump. 

"He was an ideal choice,” Rosenstein said about Mueller, whom he appointed in May. 

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Paul Maslin is a veteran Democratic pollster who spent Wednesday traveling home from Alabama and luxuriating in Doug Jones’ upset victory in the state’s special U.S. Senate race.

During a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, he took a victory lap and offered a few thoughts between flights.

On President Trump: “If he can’t figure out a way to turn this around, we’re going to win the Senate, we’re going to kill ’em in the House and we’re going to set up the second half of his presidency where he’s going to be neutered.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) answers questions during a news conference earlier this month in Louisville, Ky.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) answers questions during a news conference earlier this month in Louisville, Ky. (Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press)

Ahead of a pivotal meeting Wednesday, House and Senate negotiators swapped new offers on the GOP tax bill as they hurry to resolve differences and regain momentum for passage of President Trump’s top priority.

The focal point of the $1.5-trillion tax plan — the steep reduction in corporate rates from 35% to 20% — is expected to be relaxed slightly in the final deal, perhaps to 21%, as negotiators scramble to generate revenue that can be used to offset tax breaks elsewhere.

Trump indicated he would be open to higher corporate rates than Republicans first agreed to under a GOP framework, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said Tuesday that lawmakers also were willing to shift. But others said the reported 21% corporate rate was not yet set.

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Omarosa Manigault Newman, director of communications for the White House Public Liaison Office, is reportedly stepping down.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, director of communications for the White House Public Liaison Office, is reportedly stepping down. (Drew Angerer)

The White House says Omarosa Manigault Newman — one of President Trump's most prominent African American supporters — plans to leave the administration next month. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Manigault Newman's resignation is effective Jan. 20, one year since Trump's inauguration. 

Manigault Newman's decision comes at the start of what's expected to be a round of departures heading into the new year. 

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Ever since Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March, no Justice Department official has been more important to the case than Rod Rosenstein.

As the deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position at Justice, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel and he has the sole authority to fire him.

The role has placed Rosenstein under immense political pressure, and on Wednesday he’ll face questions from the House Judiciary Committee at a time when Republicans are raising doubts about Mueller’s investigation.