Opinion writer

* Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju report that Rep. Adam Schiff is getting down to business:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday a broad investigation his committee would undertake "beyond Russia" into whether President Donald Trump's financial interests are driving his actions.

Schiff said the investigation would "allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration."

“That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else,” Schiff told reporters after the House Intelligence Committee’s first meeting in the new Congress.

I’m sure Trump will react to this with reason and equanimity.

* Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella report that things were apparently not messed up enough already in Virginia:

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said Wednesday he dressed in blackface during college, elevating the Capitol’s scandals to a new level that engulfed the entire executive branch of government.

Now, Herring, Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax - the state’s three top Democrats - are each embroiled in separate scandals that threaten their careers. Also on Wednesday, the woman who has accused Fairfax of sexual assault made her first public statements, going into graphic detail of an alleged 2004 attack which Fairfax has vehemently denied.

I’m not saying I didn’t do some stupid things in college, but come on.

* Jennifer Scholtes, Ted Hesson, and Caitlin Emma report that there are some glimmers of hope for averting the next shutdown.

* Ken Sweet reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Board has announced that it's going to essentially stop policing the payday lending industry. Because those folks have such high integrity that they can be trusted to police themselves.

* Sarah Ferris looks at how Democrats are going to push gun regulation measures with renewed energy.

* Rachana Pradhan reports on activists' effort to get a Medicaid expansion initiative on the 2020 ballot in Florida.

* Eric Levitz says the State of the Union showed how Trump is going to run again on phony economic liberalism combined with authoritarian race-baiting.

* Eric Boehlert makes the case to Democrats that they must not let Fox News host any of their primary debates.

* Greg Carlock and Julian Brave NoiseCat have a must-read explaining the morality and politics of the Green New Deal.

* Dahlia Lithwick says conservative activists and judges have been pushing a series of lies about abortion for years, and predicts that the Supreme Court will soon validate them.

* David Klion profiles Matt Duss, Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy adviser, in his attempt to change Washington’s perspective on the world.

* Former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu says he doesn’t think he’ll be running for president in 2020.

* And it turns out that Trump used some words last night that have never appeared in a State of the Union address before, including “bloodthirsty,” “chilling,” “sadistic,” and “venomous.”