Mueller gives White House names of 6 aides he expects to question in Russia probe

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has alerted the White House that his team will probably seek to interview six top current and former advisers to President Trump who were witnesses to several episodes relevant to the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the request.

Mueller’s interest in the aides, including trusted adviser Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus, reflects how the probe that has dogged Trump’s presidency is starting to penetrate a closer circle of aides around the president.

Each of the six advisers was privy to important internal discussions that have drawn the interest of Mueller’s investigators, according to people familiar with the probe, including his decision in May to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. Also of interest is the White House’s initial inaction after warnings about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s December discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Leading moderate announces retirement from House with parting shot at direction of GOP

Exhausted from his ideological battles with the House Freedom Caucus and clashes with Donald Trump’s White House, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has decided to retire.

The retirement gives Democrats a prime pickup opportunity, and some veteran GOP strategists are increasingly nervous that a stream of others will follow – especially if the House fails to put more legislative points on the board (e.g. overhauling the tax code) and the political winds continue to suggest major Democratic gains in the 2018 midterms.

Trump signed the deal he made with Nancy and Chuck into law today.  Republicans boo-ed

For Trump and Ryan, a tortured relationship grows more so

 It started out cold as ice, and then turned warm and friendly. Now the tortured relationship between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan has gone cool again, with the Republican president making clear he has no qualms about bucking the GOP leader to cut deals with his Democratic foes.

Trump has spoken to Ryan less frequently in recent weeks, particularly after the departure of his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, who has deep Wisconsin ties to the speaker. Priebus would sometimes broker the calls and stress to each man their importance, according to two people familiar with the conversations. Those calls have occurred less often since John Kelly took over as chief of staff.

Though Trump has expressed particular anger at McConnell for the failed Senate health care vote and for not protecting him from the Russia investigation, he grudgingly has told associates that he is aware of the Senate leader’s grip on power. He has spoken less glowingly about Ryan’s own ability to lead due to the shorter House terms and the growing insurgency within the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Democrats prepare to block another Trump judicial nominee

Two Senate Democrats said Thursday they will block yet another nominee from President Donald Trump to the nation’s powerful appellate courts — inflaming a growing battle between Democratic senators and the White House over judicial candidates.

The White House nominated Ryan Bounds to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to a seat that became vacant in December. Bounds is currently assistant U.S attorney in Oregon and also served in the George W. Bush administration; he has clerked for the federal judge he would replace, Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain.

But in a letter sent to the White House the same day, Bounds’ two home-state senators — Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon — announced they would not return a “blue slip” for Bounds’ nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Homeland Security Cancels Massive Roundups of Undocumented Immigrants

 President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security had planned nationwide raids to target 8,400 undocumented immigrants later this month, according to three law enforcement officials and an internal document that described the plan as "the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE," an acronym for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But after NBC News reported the plans late Thursday, the agency issued a statement saying it had cancelled nationwide enforcement actions due to Hurricane Irma and the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Virginia scraps touchscreen voting machines

The Virginia State Board of Elections moved Friday to do away with touchscreen voting machines in the state by November’s election, a move aimed at boosting security.

The board decided to phase out the machines this year after the Virginia Department of Elections recommended that the touchscreen voting machines be decertified. The recommendation came after security experts breached numerous types of voting machines with ease at the DEF CON cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas in July, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Napolitano Sues Trump to Save DACA Program She Helped Create

As secretary of homeland security in 2012, Janet Napolitano created DACA, the federal program that protected more than 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally in the United States.

Now, as the president of the sprawling University of California system, she is suing President Trump to save it.

Sen. Murphy thinks he can build an on-ramp to single-payer health care

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has captivated the base with a cry for Medicare-for-all, but other Senate Democrats worry his proposal — which envisions a vast overnight transformation of the health care system — will be difficult to pull off.

Now, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), the latest entrant into the Democratic health care sweepstakes, says he is preparing a plan that would serve as a bridge between the current health care system and the single-payer system that has increasingly become the key demand of the party’s base.

Murphy’s idea: Allow every American, both individuals and companies, to purchase Medicare. Murphy’s hope is that if enough people purchase Medicare — and Murphy is confident they will en masse if they can — then the private health insurance would begin to shrink gradually. As a result, the government will swallow more and more of the private health insurance markets, setting up the trajectory for achieving a single-payer system

Have a great weekend everyone.  Stay safe everyone dealing with hurricanes or fires.