* Former CIA Director John Brennan didn’t drop any bombshells during his testimony today in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Instead, as David Corn documents, it was Republicans on the committee who made the news.
The Republicans still are not serious about investigating the Trump-Russia scandal. That message came through resoundingly when the House Intelligence Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday morning with former CIA chief John Brennan…
The Republicans zeroed in on the issue of whether Trump and his associates colluded with any Russians involved in the attack on US democracy—to push Brennan to say he had not seen concrete evidence of such conspiring. Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) grilled Brennan repeatedly on this point. They posed the same basic query: Did you see any evidence that Trump or his associates plotted with Russians? “I don’t do evidence. I do intelligence,” Brennan replied. Still, they kept pressing him. They were obviously hoping he would state that he had not come across any such evidence so Trump and his champions could cite Brennan as a witness for their claim no collusion occurred.
In the face of this questioning, Brennan repeatedly stated that the intelligence he saw regarding contacts between Trump associates and Russia was worrisome and deserved full FBI scrutiny. So the Republicans failed in their mission to provide cover for Trump—and they ended up highlighting the legitimacy of the FBI inquiry begun under Comey.
* While we’ve all been tracking the bombshells dropping daily about the Trump administration, the right wing has been addicted to the story about the murder of Seth Rich. In case you haven’t heard all of the fake news and conspiracy theories on that one, Dave Weigel has a great summary. Much of this was related to false stories promoted on Fox News and spread by Sean Hannity, who seems to be obsessed with the story. In a truly remarkable move, today Fox News recanted the story and removed it from their web site. Needless to say, Sean Hannity is getting some intense heat.
* There are a lot of deplorable people in the Trump administration. But lately, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney seems to be vying for placement at the top of the list. Here is what he wrote about the administration’s budget that destroys this country’s safety net:
For years, we’ve focused on how we can help Americans receive taxpayer-funded assistance. Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re now looking at how we can respect both those who require assistance and the taxpayers who fund that support. For the first time in a long time, we’re putting taxpayers first.
Taking money from someone without an intention to pay it back is not debt. It is theft. This budget makes it clear that we will reverse this larceny.
In other words, public assistance is “theft” and “larceny.”
* After a federal judge temporarily blocked implementation of Trump’s executive order to deny funding to sanctuary cities, AG Sessions sent out a memo that seems to have neutered the whole issue.
“Sanctuary city” is a broad term, but is most often applied to jurisdictions that don’t comply with all of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “detainer” requests to hold individuals who would otherwise be released. Yet instead of going after any city or county that doesn’t comply with ICE’s requests, the executive order will target jurisdictions that specifically don’t comply with a law to share information with the federal government for immigration purposes.
It’s an important distinction ― nearly all jurisdictions, even those labeled sanctuary cities, say they do comply with the law to provide information. If that’s the case, Trump’s anti-sanctuary cities order is largely toothless.
* Today Trump visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s principal Holocaust memorial and museum. Here’s what he wrote in the guestbook:
It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends – so amazing + will never forget!
For comparison, here is what Obama wrote when he visited as president:
I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man’s potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world.
* Ryan Lizza has written a great profile of Sally Yates. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing, especially if you need some inspiration on what public service can look like.
* Finally, it is “World Turtle Day.” As someone who has learned to both cope with and revel in the fact that I have always been “slow and steady,” I’ll celebrate with one of my favorite pictures. This is a 140 year-old mother giving a lift to her 5 day-old son.