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Reps. Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes, the top Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the House Intelligence Committee, chat.
Reps. Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes, the top Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the House Intelligence Committee, chat. (Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)

Anyone looking for more proof of the partisan battle raging in the House Intelligence Committee can turn to the transcript of a recent closed-door hearing in which members argued over a Democratic memo about secret surveillance.

Democrats wrote the memo as a rebuttal to a Republican document that was released on Feb. 2. It alleged that the FBI and Justice Department abused the process needed to obtain a special warrant to authorize eavesdropping on a former foreign policy advisor to President Trump’s campaign. 

Even minor procedural issues appeared tense during the meeting Monday.

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(Saul Loeb / AFP)

President Trump said Friday that he found out about the abuse allegations against his close aide Rob Porter “recently” and was “surprised by it.”

Talking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump mentioned twice that Porter says he’s innocent. Porter’s two ex-wives say they gave detailed accounts and documentation to FBI agents conducting a background check of Porter, claiming that he was physically and emotionally abusive. One provided a photo of her badly blackened eye. The other says Porter grabbed her in a fit of rage and pulled her out of the shower.

Porter’s sudden departure Wednesday raised questions about how he could have worked so closely as the president’s secretary and handled the West Wing’s most sensitive documents for more than a year without senior staff knowing of allegations that could have left him open to blackmail.

When John Kelly oversaw the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, dozens of detainees refused to eat as a form of protest. Kelly, furious at the potential propaganda implications, instructed his charges to avoid using the term "hunger strike," insisting it be called a "long-term nonreligious fast."

That moment in 2013 showed that Kelly can be "spectacularly tone deaf," said a senior military officer who served at U.S. Southern Command when Kelly was the commander. It highlighted "a kind of paternalistic, the-adults-are-in-charge, we-know-better, cavalier approach to bending and attempting to control facts."

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Congress achieved an ambitious two-year budget agreement Friday, but in doing so reignited ideological factions on deficit spending and immigration that are likely to flare as lawmakers turn to these issues next, ahead of a daunting midterm election season.

The rare bipartisan agreement dispatched $300 billion in new spending over this year and next for military and nondefense programs, plus $90 billion in disaster aid. It also ended a nearly nine-hour government shutdown that began when lawmakers failed to meet a midnight deadline, blocked by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), despite a grueling all-night session.

  • Congress
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

The Senate voted early Friday to reopen the government and pass a $400-billion budget deal, handing the measure off to the House for a pre-dawn debate where success is not assured.

The vote was the first big step in a rush to pick up the pieces of a budget and spending plan that had seemed on track hours earlier. But the government stumbled into the shutdown, the second in three weeks, at midnight after a single senator mounted a protest over the budget-busting deal and refused to give in.

Congress was struggling late Thursday to approve an ambitious bipartisan budget deal to avert a midnight government shutdown, but the compromise was exposing deep divisions in both parties over immigration, deficit spending and how best to prepare for the upcoming midterm election.

The Senate was set to vote midday Thursday on the two-year package, which adds $300 billion in new federal spending to defense and domestic programs for 2018 and 2019, well beyond previous budget caps.

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  • Congress
  • Budget

The government stumbled into a midnight shutdown early Friday as a defiant Senate Republican blocked a speedy vote on a massive, bipartisan, budget-busting spending deal, protesting the return of trillion-dollar deficits on the watch of Republicans controlling Washington.

A shutdown — technically a lapse in agency appropriations — became inevitable as GOP Sen. Rand Paul repeatedly held up votes on the budget plan, which is married to a six-week government spending measure. The Senate recessed about 11 p.m. Thursday and reconvened just after midnight.

Paul was seeking a vote on reversing spending increases and refused to speed things up when he was denied.

A sweeping two-year budget deal announced by Senate leaders Wednesday promises to end the shutdown threats that have plagued Congress, but fails to address the unresolved issue of immigration and will add to a deficit already ballooning from the GOP tax cut plan.

Approval of the $300-billion bipartisan accord was not guaranteed, with votes expected on Thursday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) seized the House floor for nearly the entire day in a filibuster-like talkathon to demand protections for young immigrants known as Dreamers.

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  • Immigration

Without making any new promises, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday he was committed to bringing an immigration bill to the floor as the “next big priority” to protect young Dreamers from deportation by a March deadline. 

Ryan is trying to strike a delicate balance by appealing to Democrats and his own centrist Republicans —  whose votes he needs to pass a sweeping budget deal —  while not specifically embracing any particular legislative proposal that could alienate conservatives or be met with disapproval by President Trump, whose support he needs for any immigration plan.

“To anyone who doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not,” Ryan said, referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump is ending March 5. A court case is allowing it to continue temporarily.

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Television producer Mark Burnett, left, and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) with President Trump at 2017's year's National Prayer Breakfast.
Television producer Mark Burnett, left, and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) with President Trump at 2017's year's National Prayer Breakfast. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

A year after telling guests at the National Prayer Breakfast to “pray for Arnold” Schwarzenegger’s television ratings as host of the “Celebrity Apprentice,” President Trump gave a more traditional address at Thursday’s event.

Trump’s only reference to the show this year came when he introduced Mark Burnett, who produced the show and introduced Trump at last year’s breakfast.