Happy Hour Roundup

Happy Hour Roundup

* Natasha Bertrand reports on how the Justice Department is deep in a PR war to help Trump in the Russia scandal:

The Justice Department invited a group of reporters to its offices on Tuesday night to view private text messages that were sent during the election by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, former investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Business Insider has learned.

President Donald Trump’s allies have seized on the texts, which were critical of Trump, as evidence that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been tainted. The texts were obtained as part of an investigation by the DOJ’s inspector general into how the FBI handled the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server last year.

Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence agent who was among those overseeing the Clinton investigation, was abruptly removed from Mueller’s Russia probe in late July and relegated to the human resources department. Page left Mueller’s team over the summer for unrelated reasons.

It is “highly unusual” for the DOJ to release correspondences that are the subject of an ongoing investigation to Congress, let alone to the press, a congressional committee source told Business Insider on Wednesday. The source emphasized that none of the leaks came from Capitol Hill, which obtained the texts from the DOJ separately on Tuesday.

“Highly unusual” is kind of the motto of this administration, along with “Shockingly brazen” and “Profoundly disturbing.”

* Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report that we’ve got some details on the Republican tax bill:

House and Senate Republican leaders have reached an agreement in principle that would lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent beginning in 2018, several people briefed on the plan said, a central component of the $1.5 trillion tax plan they hope to vote into law by next week.

The agreement would also lower the top tax rate for families and individuals from 39.6 percent to at least 37 percent, a change that would deliver a major tax cut for upper-income households.

“We are so close right now,” President Trump said at the White House. “So close.”

I am shocked, shocked to see they threw in some extra tax cuts for the wealthy.

* Sahil Kapur reports that the grad student tuition tax, one of the most abhorrent parts of the House tax bill, is going to be removed from the conference compromise version.

* Brian Faler reports that the Republicans want their tax changes to take effect January 1st, likely just days after they pass their bill, which everyone who knows anything about how these things work thinks is insane.

* A new Monmouth University poll shows Trump with a 32 percent approval rating, and Democrats with a 15-point advantage in the generic ballot.

* Ronald Brownstein has a good look at the similarities between the Alabama results and those in Virginia and New Jersey, and why this could have profound ramifications for 2018.

* E.J. Dionne offers a nicely turned column on why Alabama turned out to be just the place to test the limits of Trumpism. Also note the important points about the demoralized GOP electorate.

* John Stoehr argues that Alabama demonstrates that incredible things can happen if people get out and vote.

* Tracy Jan reports on a study showing that African-Americans are consistently portrayed as dysfunctional in news media, in ways that don’t reflect reality.

* According to a University of Maryland survey, Americans disagree with the FCC’s decision to destroy net neutrality by a margin of 83-16.

* Adele Stan says that the results in Alabama should put to bed the idea that “identity politics” is a loser for Democrats.

* And Esme Cribb wraps up all the reports on the spectacular drama that accompanied Omarosa’s removal from the White House.

Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/12/13/happy-hour-roundup-1259/

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