lawyers letterThe MaddowBlog

lawyers letterThe MaddowBlog* Huge news breaking at theJustice Department Rachel L. Brand, the No. official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job as the countrys top law enforcement agency has been under attack by President Trump, according to two people briefed on her decision.

Its against this backdrop that theWashington Posthadthis remarkable reportthis morning

In a remarkable interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes on Monday night claimed it was the Hillary Clinton campaign that had been the real Russian collaborator, and had effectively weaponized the FBI against Donald Trump during the presidential election.

After a temporary lapse in government funding that lasted through the night, the House passed a pricey twoyear spending deal early Friday that will also fund the government for an additional six weeks.

Rachel Maddow reviews all of the news that broke today, noting that Fridays in the Trump era so r are too busy to leave her

Rep. Jim Himes talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trumps rejection of the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes

* An odd campaign story out of Alabama Bobby Bright was a Democratic congressman who lost to Republican Rep. Martha Roby in . Now Bright has decided to run against Roby again, except this time,hes switched parties, become a Republican, and will take on Roby in a GOP primary.

Trump closer to ending Russia probe as Rachel Brand quits DoJ

When Donald Trump is feeling especially desperate about the Russia scandal, the president will insist that his political operation never colluded with Putins government but Hillary Clintons did. Even for a guy who loves playing a childish IknowyouarebutwhatamI game, the whole line comes across as desperate and a little silly.

As the controversy surrounding former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter continues, Vice President Mike Pencespoke toNBC News Lester Holt about the story today, and said largely the right things. Pence said he was appalled when he learned of the allegations this week, before adding that the White House has no tolerance for domestic abuse and there no place in America for the crime.

* With Missouri Republicans feeling buyers remorse about state Attorney General Josh Hawleys R Senate candidacy, GOP officials are reportedly turning to Rep. Ann Wagner R, asking her to reconsider her decision not to run and the latest reports suggestshes open to the possibility.

*This guy House lawmakers celebrated themselves this week for passing a bill that cracks down on ual harassers in Congress. But they have an alleged harasser in their midst who is trying to quietly slip by Rep. Blake Farenthold RTexas.

The government temporarily closed after Congress iled to pass a government funding bill before a midnight deadline due to the objections of one senator, shutting down nonessential government services.

Donald Trump was very excited about the Republicans Nunes memo, though the stuntclearly didnt work out well. The president was nearly as excited about a GOP report this week that suggested Barack Obama may have intervened in the FBIs Hillary Clinton probe,before the story was completely discredited.

So, is there any truth to this? No. TheWashington Postctcheckedexplainedtoday

Wittes Brand denies undue pressure to leave Justice Department

And thats a shame, because Trumps latest bombshell is also a dud. As the HuffPostexplainedovernight

Around a.m. E.T this morning, the Senate voted to to pass its spending bill, and roughly fours later, the House followed suit, voting to .

Millions of Americans probably went to bed last night, not realizing that their federal government was poised to shut down. Those same Americans may also be surprised this morning to learn that the shutdown began and ended quite quickly.

As his inauguration drew closer, Trump acknowledged that he likes very short intelligence briefings. I like bullets or I like as little as possible, heexplainedin January .

That said, its not quite right to say White House officials knew about Porters alleged violence and did nothing. They actually gave him access to highly classified materials.

But it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly hes also very sad. Now, he also, as you probably know, he says hes innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that hes innocent, so youll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job while he was at the White House.

*White Housescuttlebutt John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told officials in the West Wing on Friday that he was willing to step down over his handling of allegations of spousal abuse against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned in disgrace this week over the accusations, according to two officials aware of the discussions.

But its worth taking a moment to understand who, exactly, will end up benefiting from this achievement.

* Rep. Rick Nolan DMinn. announced this morning thathes retiringat the end of the year, despite saying last year that hed run again. This is a Republican pickup opportunity for the midterms Nolans Minnesota district backed Donald Trump in .

When Donald Trumps presidency was just getting started, the new president seemed eager to receive advice from James Mattis, the retired general who now serves as the Defense secretary. That did not, however, last very long.

Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, talks with Rachel Maddow about past government shutdowns, including pairs of shutdowns like in , and stunt shutdowns that were not over

But he didnt. The president seems to think the important elements of the Porter story are the cts that his former staff secretary worked very hard, did a very good job, and is very sad.

Fact Obama does not read his intelligence briefings, Trumpcomplained, up details that in no way reflected reality. Around the same time, Trumpadded, Obama has missed of his intelligence briefings which, again, was completely untrue.

And one of the things were doing thats so important and Mitch has worked so hard on, and Don, and everybody is the justices, the judges all over the country. Were filling up the courts with really talented people who understand and read the Constitution for what it says.

For weeks, Mattis had been resisting requests from the White House to provide military options for Iran. Now Trump made clear that he wanted the Pentagon to deliver a range of plans that included striking Iranian ballistic missile ctories or hitting Iranian speedboats that routinely harassed U.S. Navy vessels.

* On arelated note President Donald Trump, frustrated by his staffs handling of the abuse allegations against Rob Porter, is increasingly venting about Chief of Staff John Kelly and speculating about potential replacements, according to multiple sources miliar with the matter.

White House Counsel Donald McGahn knew one year ago that staff secretary Rob Porters exwives were prepared to make damaging accusations about him that could threaten his security clearance but allowed him to serve as an influential gatekeeper and aide to President Trump without investigating the accusations, according to people miliar with the matter.

*Hmm The FBI was monitoring Carter Page when the former Trump campaign adviser says he spoke with Trump adviser Steve Bannon about Russia in January , raising the strong possibility that the FBI intercepted a conversation between the two men.

With that in mind, the bill that passed this morning to end the shutdown is another stopgap spending measure a continuing resolution or C.R. giving lawmakers until March to finalize the specifics of their twoyear plan.

Maybe, under the circumstances, this guy might want to steer clear of banana republic references.

In the weeks that followed, thearticle added, the options never arrived.

For example, one of the things Trump World could have done better is take action long before this week. TheWashington Postreportedovernight, for example

*Devin Nunes Last month, an attorney expressed his outrage with leaders of the House Intelligence Committee He demanded to know why a committee official shared his clients secret testimony with another lawyer, a blatant violation of the panels rules.

* Speaking of executivebranchpicks President Trumps nominee to lead the Internal Revenue Service is a longtime tax lawyer who has specialized in defending people and companies against the tax agency in court.

For much of the past year, President Trump has declined to participate in a practice followed by the past seven of his predecessors He rarely if ever reads the Presidents Daily Brief, a document that lays out the most pressing information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies from hot spots around the world.

Soon after, Trump spoke at a GOP congressional retreat and kept his focuson the judiciary

When the FBI alerted the White House to some of its findings about Porter, Team Trump didnt act. When Porters security clearance was delayed, Team Trump didnt act. When one of Porters accusers contacted the White House with alarming claims, Team Trump didnt act.

Rachel Maddow shows how the Nunes memo was a ploy to give Donald Trump an excuse to fire Rod Rosenstein who oversees Muellers Trump Russia investigation. With Rachel Brand out, Rosensteins nextinline position is

Donald Trumps White House is many things, but its not apologetic. It was therefore a little surprising when Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah held a briefing yesterday and struck a conciliatory tone when asked about the scandal surrounding former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who resigned this week in the wake of allegations that he was violently abusive toward both of his exwives.

So its really not talked about that much, but it is a tremendous impact. Its having already a tremendous impact. And we have incredible people lined up just lined up that are getting ready to go into the courts. And, in many ways, Mitch, I think its going to be one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, that were doing…. What were doing with the courts, I think, is going to go down as one of the greatest achievements.

The allegations of violence toward womenwerent a secret. Its just that no one in the West Wing decided to do anything about them.

Trump rejects Democratic rebuttal of Nunes, exposes GOP memo game

Indeed, while we generally measure shutdowns in days and weeks, this onelasted hours.

Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day, according to three people miliar with his briefings.

* In related news, Rep. Phil Roe RTenn. announced yesterday hewill seekanother term, despite rumors to the contrary. Roe had promised local voters that hed leave the House after years of service. Now that hes been in the job for years, Roe is apparently willing to break that promise.

* Thesame pollfound Donald Trump with a approval rating in Iowa, and just of Iowans say they definitely intend to vote for him in . In , Trump won the state by points.

In his recent State of the Union address, Donald Trumpboastedthat Republicans are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.

* Asensible choice Ethics experts were over the moon with President Donald Trumps selection to lead the Office of Government Ethics, Emory Rounds.

I thought it was at least possible Trump would condemn violence against women, even briefly, if for no other reason than to acknowledge the political circumstances surrounding his White House.

Todays installment of campaignrelated news items from across the country.

Its a welcome sentiment, I suppose, though its worth asking what, specifically, the White House believes it did wrong in this situation.

Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of Lawre and friend of Rachel Brand, talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trumps hollowingout of the Justice Department and what Rachel Brand has told him about her decision to

Well, we wish [Porter] well. He worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it. But we certainly wish him well. Its obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job while he was in the White House. And we hope that he has a wonderful career hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.

Intelligence professionals have gone to great lengths to accommodate the presidents toddlerlike attention span, preparing reportswith lots of graphics and maps. National Security Council officials have even learned that Trump is likely to stop reading important materials unless he sees his name, so theyinclude his namein as many paragraphs as possible.

Why cant we sink them? Trump would sometimes ask about the boats.

As regular readers mayrecall, Donald Trump has long taken an interest in the presidential daily intelligence briefing. In ct, in , he seemed convinced that Barack Obama wasnt taking the nationalsecurity briefings as seriously as he should.

Mattisurgedthe president not to move the U.S. embassy in Israel, and Trump ignored him. Mattis explained to the president that the international nuclear agreement with Iran was thebasis for regional sility, and Trump ignored him again. Mattis spent weekslobbyingbehind the scenes to help shape the presidents June address to NATO leaders, and Trumpdeletedthe language the Pentagon chief helped write.

The president who ostensibly has access to a vast, multibilliondollar intelligence apparatus, providing him with almost limitless amounts of vetted information was apparently relying onsomethinghe saw on Fox News.

Whats more,Politicoreportedthat White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was told several weeks ago that the FBI would recommend denying full security clearances to multiple White House aides, including Porter. And yet, Kelly not only iled to act, he also vigorously defended Porter when the controversy first came to the publics attention this week.

Unlike so many of the presidents claims, this one was largely true. Now that filibusters are no longer an option on judicial nominees, the Republicanled Senate is confirming the Republicanled White Houses court picks at a stunning clip including appellate court judges in Trumps first year.

Sometimes, a report can be both important and not surprising in the least.

At issue was a billion bipartisan package, funding federal operations through next year this is the agreement Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell RKy. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer DN.Y. worked out earlier this week but that bill is a broad blueprint, the details of which still need work.

But as it turns out, the Defense secretary occasionally ignores the White House, too. TheWashington Postpublishedan interesting profileon Mattis this week, which included an amazing anecdote.

* In Iowa, a newDes Moines Register/Mediacom poll shows Gov. Kim Reynolds Rleadingeach of her Democratic contenders in hypothetical headtohead matchups, though state Sen. Nate Boulton and retired businessman Fred Hubbell are both within five points of the incumbent.

But the guy who championed Birtherism for several years isnt the to give up on the search for exciting new conspiracy theories. And so, Trump publishedthis missivelast night about Sen. Mark Warner RVa., the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the Russia scandal

Chief of Staff John F. Kelly learned this ll about the allegations of spousal abuse and that they were delaying Porters security clearance amid an ongoing FBI investigation. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.

And why, pray tell, couldnt Congress pass this before last nights midnight deadline? Because of Sen. Rand Paul RKy..

Nevertheless, two days later, Nunesrepeated the lineon Hugh Hewitts radio show The truth is that they [Democrats] are covering up that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians to get dirt on Trump to feed it to the FBI to open up an investigation into the other campaign.

Wow! Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a trail on a private meeting in London he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier me. All tied into Crooked Hillary.

Its what happens in banana republics. Its scary, said the California Republican, who claimed that the controversial memo released by the House intel panel last week on a partyline vote showed a clear link between the Clinton campaign and Russia.

Thats not an excerpt of his response; it was the entirety of his response.

Trumps excitement is understandable at a certain level. Republicans have struggled in a wide variety of ways since the president took office, but when it comes to filling the federal courts with rright nominees who serve lifetime appointments Democrats have been effectively powerless to stop the GOPs efforts.

This afternoon in the Oval Office, Donald Trump also addressed the controversy publicly for the first time, though the presidents comments struck a slightly different tone.

I think its ir to say that we all could have done better over the last few hours or last few days in dealing with this situation,Shah concededto reporters, on a day in which the White Housestruggledto keep its story straight.

All of this seemed quite ironic when, during Trumps presidential transition process, heskipped nearly all of his intelligence briefings. Asked why, the Republican told Fox News in December , Well, I get it when I need it… I dont have to be told you know, Im, like, a smart person.

And with that in mind, it seemed a little worse when Rep. Devin Nunes RCalif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,started pushingTrumps talking point.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster and his staff laid out the presidents request for Mattis in a conference call, but the defense secretary refused, according to several U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations.