Here’s where things stand heading into Day 61 of the Trump administration:
FBI Director James B. Comey’s visit to Capitol Hill on Monday produced an extraordinary disclosure.
We now know that his agency is definitely investigating possible coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
It is uncommon for the FBI to confirm ongoing investigations, but Comey said “it may be appropriate” when it is “in the public interest.” Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, he confirmed that the FBI is also working on a wider probe of Russian interference in the electoral process.
Trump showed serious interest in the hearings, posting a series of tweets claiming that Democrats “made up” allegations of contact between his team and the Kremlin. He also urged the investigators to look into the source of related leaks to the media, a call Republican lawmakers later echoed while questioning Comey.
One topic Trump did not tweet about Monday morning was his allegation — made on Twitter — that then-President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the campaign. Comey, in the course of the 5½-hour hearing, said he had “no information that supports those tweets.”
GORSUCH COMPLETES FIRST DAY OF CONFIRMATION HEARINGS
On the other side of Capitol Hill, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee spent much of Monday trying to convince Democratic senators that he is a mainstream jurist, not a conservative firebrand.
Judge Neil Gorsuch, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his first day of confirmation hearings, promised to remember the “modest station we judges are meant to occupy in a democracy” if he takes the vacant seat on the high court.
Democrats will spend the next three days trying to draw Gorsuch out on various issues, including abortion rights and gun rights — two issues on which he has never ruled.
Members of the minority party were clearly still sore about Republicans’ treatment of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, who was blocked from receiving hearings.
“I’m deeply disappointed that it’s under these circumstances that we begin our hearings,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
TRUMP HEADED TO CAPITOL HILL AS HEALTH-CARE VOTE LOOMS
House Republicans will hear directly from Trump on Tuesday when he comes to Capitol Hill ahead of the lower chamber’s vote to revise the Affordable Care Act.
As our colleagues wrote, Trump’s visit signals that leaders like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) consider “negotiations with key blocs of House members essentially complete” and are ready to use POTUS as leverage with hard-liners who still oppose the bill.
GOP leaders in the House altered the bill late Monday, addressing party members’ issues with the bill, including the flexibility it would give states to administer their Medicaid programs and the amount of aid it would offer older Americans to buy insurance.
Ryan has expressed confidence that the GOP bill will receive a favorable House vote Thursday and then move to the Senate.
WHITE HOUSE INSTALLS SENIOR AIDES IN AGENCIES
Everyone knows Trump is big on loyalty. But it was hard to say how that would translate to his work running the federal government.
We know a bit more now: The president has installed senior aides within federal agencies and departments to monitor the loyalty of Trump’s Cabinet members.
By The Post’s count, there are at least 16 of these advisers in place across the federal government. They report to a White House official, not the department they work in. And they are in “constant contact” with Trump’s inner circle, as our colleagues reported.
This “eyes and ears” arrangement — unusual among recent White Houses — is designed to ensure Cabinet members don’t stray too far from Trump’s agenda or talking points.
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