Opinion writer

* Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz and Gloria Borger report that the story of James Comey’s pursuit of Hillary Clinton just gets weirder and more maddening:

Then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email was fake — created by Russian intelligence — but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe and the Justice Department itself, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the process.

As a result, Comey acted unilaterally last summer to publicly declare the investigation over — without consulting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — while at the same time stating that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information. His press conference caused a firestorm of controversy and drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

Comey’s actions based on what he knew was Russian disinformation offer a stark example of the way Russian interference impacted the decisions of the highest-level US officials during the 2016 campaign.

Let’s never forget that this whole thing was because Clinton committed the republic-threatening, world-shattering, conscience-shocking sin of using the wrong email address.

* Damian Paletta examines the contradictory messages coming out of the administration:

As President Trump traveled on a whirlwind trip overseas this week, top officials in Washington unveiled a series of a contradictory messages on some of his highest priorities.

On Thursday morning, White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney told a Senate panel that the massive tax cut plan they hoped to move through Congress this year would be fully offset by eliminating scores of tax breaks.

“We’re going to lower rates, we’re going to simplify it but we’re going to get rid of this whole host of deductions and some of which are massive and said, look, the most defensible conservative with a small ‘c’ way to look at this is to say it’s own policies, those will be deficit neutral,” Mulvaney said.

A few minutes later, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told another Senate panel something very different. He said the massive cut in tax rates would be offset in large part because the economy would grow a tremendous amount.

“It would be paid for with economic growth and base broadening,” Mnuchin said.

I believe I can explain this: they have no idea what they’re doing or why.

* A poll commissioned by the Democratic group Priorities USA shows that health care is a more potent issue for Democrats than the Russia scandal.

* Mike DeBonis examines how Republicans are denying that their health care bill weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

* Ari Berman reports that the Democratic Party has created a commission that will work to counter the Trump administration’s assault on voting rights.

* Robert Schlesinger writes that there are some conservatives who understand that Donald Trump is poisoning their party.

* Harold Pollack aptly points out that in Washington, the one thing it’s permissible to blatantly lie about is policy.

* Rebecca Traister profiles Hillary Clinton in her life after politics.

* Micah Sifry describes the unfortunate “activist Hunger Games” that is holding back the left in its quest to resist the Trump presidency.

* Andy Slavitt points out that while you weren’t looking, Donald Trump imposed a big tax increase on everyone.

* At The Week, I argued that the Montana result shows that all politics is national.

* Brian Beutler argues that it isn’t “American politics” that has a problem with condoning hatred and violence, in the euphemism preferred by pundits. It’s the GOP.

* And Jeff Stein argues that Ben Jacobs should reject Greg Gianforte’s incredibly lame apology until he offers a real one.