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Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, left, appears with Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein and Associate Atty. Gen. Rachel Brand.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, left, appears with Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein and Associate Atty. Gen. Rachel Brand. (Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

The No. 3 official in the Justice Department is resigning to take a job in the private sector, another high-profile departure from a department under relentless pressure from the White House.

Rachel Brand, the associate attorney general, will leave her job after less than nine months to take an unspecified private sector job, the department announced on Friday.

Ordinarily a low-profile position, that job potentially put Brand next in line to oversee the special counsel investigation, after Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein – who has become a target of increasing attacks from right-wing Republicans.

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(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President Trump met with key law enforcement figures Friday and will “respond soon” to a request to declassify a Democratic memo related to the probe and surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate, according to his spokesman.

Raj Shah, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement released Friday afternoon that Trump had met with FBI Director Andrew McCabe, top officials from the Justice Department and White House Counsel’s office “to discuss the memorandum from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and receive their input.”

“The President is weighing his options and will respond soon,” Shah added.

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(Associated Press)

Did Sen. Marco Rubio just call for a military coup in Venezuela?

The Florida Republican, long dismayed over the humanitarian and political crisis engulfing the socialist-ruled nation, on Friday said the “world would support” the Venezuelan military if it rose to “protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.”

In a series of messages on Twitter, Rubio said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his associates “live like kings” while ordinary citizens, including soldiers, starve. 

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.

  • White House
(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.

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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.”

The House passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal early Friday, sending the measure to President Trump for his signature and ending the second government shutdown of 2018.

  • 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.

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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.

  • 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.