* Karoun Demirjian and Shane Harris report that Gina Haspel tried to reassure the Senate that torture isn’t on the CIA’s to-do list:
Gina Haspel told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that she “will not restart” a controversial CIA interrogation program if confirmed to lead the agency and that she would obey her moral compass, not President Trump, if she was ever instructed to carry out other questionable activities.
“We’re not getting back into that business,” Haspel said. “I would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA.”
“My moral compass is strong,” Haspel said as the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), pressed her to define her “moral code.”
“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that is immoral, even if it is technically legal. I would absolutely not permit it,” Haspel continued. “I believe CIA must undertake activities that are consistent with American values.”
That would be more reassuring if she hadn’t also repeatedly refused to answer the simple question of whether the CIA’s torture program, in which she was implicated, was immoral or not.
A small group of Republicans has launched an effort to sidestep House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and put immigration legislation on the House floor this year in a bid to secure protections for young undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) filed a discharge petition Wednesday morning that, if signed by a majority of House members, would force votes on a series of immigration bills under a so-called queen of the hill rule. Whichever of those bills receives the most votes, exceeding a majority, would pass the House — a setup that is calibrated to secure passage of a bipartisan compromise.
Six other Republicans — Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), David G. Valadao (Calif.), Will Hurd (Tex.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Mia B. Love (Utah) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) — also signed the discharge petition Wednesday alongside Curbelo. Most represent swing districts with significant Latino constituencies.
They’ll need the help of all the Democrats to make it happen, but it just might — and imagine that, a vote on immigration reform!
* Timothy O’Brien examines the money trails winding around President Trump and Michael Cohen.
* Sean McElwee, Avery Wendell, Colin McAuliffe, and Jason Ganz explore data showing that as he winds down his term as speaker, Paul Ryan’s agenda has never been less popular than it is right now.
* Jonathan Bernstein explains why walking away from the Iran deal could diminish Trump’s power in the future.
* And Brian Stelter and Kaitlan Collins report that throughout his presidency, Trump has mused privately about revoking the credentials of reporters and news organizations that are critical of him.