Opinion writer

* Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey report that President Trump may be homing in on a permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions:

Former attorney general William P. Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to be nominated to lead the Justice Department — a choice that could be made in coming days as the agency presses forward with a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.

Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a favorite candidate of a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office, these people said. Two people familiar with the discussions said the president has told advisers in recent days that he plans to nominate Barr. . . .

One person familiar with the discussions cautioned that while Barr is the leading candidate, the decision is not final and the president could decide to pick someone else.

Meanwhile, Jeanine Pirro looks out the window of her Manhattan apartment, a single tear winding down her cheek as she contemplates this betrayal.

* Amy Gardner and Beth Reinhard report that Republicans knew how messed up things were getting in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District before the election, because incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger (R), who lost in the GOP primary, had warned them:

In the days immediately after the race, aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee that they believed fraud had occurred, according to people familiar with their discussions.

GOP officials did little to scrutinize the results, instead turning their attention to Harris’s general-election campaign against a well-funded Democratic opponent, the people said.

Their accounts provide the first indication that state and national Republican officials received early warnings about voting irregularities in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, now the subject of multiple criminal probes.

A spokesman for the NRCC denied that Pittenger’s campaign raised the possibility of fraud in the primary.

Allegations of fraud in November’s general election have now put the outcome of the 9th Congressional District race in limbo. State investigators are examining the activities of a political operative named Leslie McCrae Dowless, who ran a get-out-the-vote effort for the Harris campaign during the primary and general elections.

What mattered was whether they won, not whether there was fraud.

* Elaina Plott reports that the White House appears to have made no plan for what to do if and when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III releases his final report. I’m guessing they may go with the “wailing and gnashing of teeth” plan.

* Maria Sacchetti reports on a brother and sister awaiting word if they're going to be deported to Honduras — after their father was deported, then murdered by MS-13.

* Heather Long notes that Trump's two favorite metrics of the economy's health are not doing very well.

* Ron Brownstein says the GOP power grab in Wisconsin and Michigan represent a new chapter in the conflict between rural and metropolitan America.

* Noah Berlatsky says what happened in those states shows that states can be laboratories of democracy, but they can also be places where rights are attacked.

* Jill Lawrence says the GOP can solve its problem with women, if it's willing to change almost everything about itself.

* Amanda Marcotte analyzes Fox News' response to the Michael Flynn memo as a case study in how the network deals with news that is unfavorable to Trump.

* Deanna Paul reports that Fox host Tucker Carlson blasted Trump's presidency in an interview with a German magazine, but says he still likes the fact that Trump hates immigrants.

* Nicholas Riccardi and James Anderson report on the very serious moves Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is making as he prepares to run for president in 2020.

* Renae Merle reports that the Senate narrowly confirmed Kathy Kraninger to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She has no experience in consumer protection, but that’s okay because the Trump administration wants the CFPB to stop protecting consumers.

* Mike Spies unearths documents pointing to illegal coordination during 2016 between the National Rifle Association and the Trump campaign.