POLITICS
02/14/2017 05:15 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Flynnghazi

Carlos Barria / Reuters

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Today is Valentine’s Day, when couples take some time for themselves and Steve Bannon lays a withered rose at the altar of Banervia, the fallen goddess of the underworld, and vows to fulfill her destiny of ruling humanity in a reign of sorrows that will last 100,000 years. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned, and if Kellyanne Conway says, “I am rubber, you are glue,” live on-air, we’ll have first 100 days BINGO. And President Trump signed a bill freeing energy companies from disclosing what they pay foreign governments, pleasing all the president’s working-class supporters who are also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, February 14th, 2017:

A VALENTINE’S DAY POEM

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Alternative fact:

No they aren’t

You’re welcome. Also, here’s a Donald Trump valentine generator.

TRUMP KNEW ABOUT FLYNN’S LIE - The question isn’t whether the scandals will continue, but whether Trump will engage in a universe-rattling one to get our attention once everyone grows accustomed to the scandals. Abby Phillip: “President Trump was aware for ‘weeks’ that his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had misled White House officials and Vice President Pence about his talks with the Russian ambassador before Flynn was forced to resign Monday night. White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in a briefing late last month that Flynn, despite his claims to the contrary, had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. The briefing came ‘immediately’ after the Justice Department informed McGahn about the discrepancy, Spicer said. Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general at the time, and a senior career national security official at the Justice Department had informed McGahn at his office about their concerns on Jan. 26, according to a person familiar with the briefing. Spicer said the president and a small group of senior aides were briefed by McGahn about Flynn that same day.” [WaPo]

FLYNN INTERVIEWED BY FBI - Adam Goldman, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt: “F.B.I. agents interviewed Michael T. Flynn when he was national security adviser in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, current and former officials said on Tuesday. The interview raises the stakes of what so far has been a political scandal that cost Mr. Flynn his job. If he was not entirely honest with the F.B.I., it could expose Mr. Flynn to a felony charge. President Trump asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night. While it is not clear what he said in his F.B.I. interview, Mr. Flynn maintained publicly for more than a week that his conversations with the ambassador were innocuous and did not involve Russian sanctions, something now known to be false. Shortly after the F.B.I. interview, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, told the White House that Mr. Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail because of inconsistencies between what he had said publicly and what intelligence officials knew to be true.” [NYT]

At least that crazy guy knew a thing or two: “Among those Trump listens to most, daughter Ivanka has worked in the family business and marketed a line of clothing. Son-in-law Jared Kushner was in New York real estate. Chief strategist Steve Bannon was an investment banker and most recently ran a right-wing, white nationalist-friendly website. And Chief of Staff Reince Priebus chaired the Republican National Committee. Only Flynn had some foreign policy experience, and even that was relatively narrow, as an Army intelligence officer and then director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.” [HuffPost’s S.V. Date]

SWAMP STARTING TO OVERFLOW - Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law on Tuesday legislation that repeals a securities disclosure rule aimed at curbing corruption at energy and mining companies. ‘This is a big signing, very important signing. This is HJ Resolution 41, disapproving the Securities and Exchange Commission rule on disclosure of payments by resource extraction issuers. It’s a big deal,’ Trump said in the Oval Office before signing the resolution. In a 52-47 vote, the Republican-controlled Senate approved earlier this month the resolution, which eradicates a rule requiring companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp to publicly state taxes and other fees paid to foreign governments like Russia.” [Reuters]

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CHAFFETZ WON’T INVESTIGATE FLYNN - [Smash cut to Chaffetz making noise about Susan Rice’s Benghazi talking points]. Amanda Terkel: “House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday he will not pursue an investigation into what contacts Michael Flynn had with the Russian government before Donald Trump took office, and whether Flynn then lied about his communications…. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday he may carry out an investigation ― but regarding the leaks of details about Flynn’s call, rather than his actual conduct.” [HuffPost]

Sort of doing his job: “Republican House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (Utah) on Tuesday announced a probe into President Donald Trump’s handling of sensitive information about North Korea’s missile launch while he was seated at an outdoor patio table at Mar-A-Lago Saturday night, surrounded by dinner guests.  A number of those guests took photos of Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviewing documents and making phone calls at the dinner table before the two men issued formal responses to the North Korean test late Saturday night.” [HuffPost’s Christina Wilkie]

OGE CALLS FOR CONWAY INVESTIGATION - Paul Blumenthal: “The Office of Government Ethics responded to a request by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) about White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s possible breach of federal ethics rules by informing him that his committee has more authority to investigate this matter than the agency. The letter from OGE Director Walter Shaub to both Chaffetz and Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the oversight panel, came in response to a letter the two congressmen sent urging the agency to determine if disciplinary action was warranted for Conway after she told people to purchase Ivanka Trump’s brand line while appearing on Fox News. Federal laws ban executive branch employees from endorsing particular commercial products or companies.” [HuffPost]

Oh: Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein: “The White House tried to put the best possible spin on the debacle surrounding Michael Flynn’s pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian government Tuesday, claiming that laws weren’t broken and that the dismissal was based on eroding ‘trust’ between the president and his national security adviser. ‘It was not an issue of law, it was an issue of trust,’ White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly told reporters.” [HuffPost]

GOP SENATORS CALLING FOR FLYNN ANSWERS - You could say they called for a…

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Flynnvestigation. Manu Raju, Tom LoBianco and Eugene Scott: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday it’s ‘highly likely’ the Senate intelligence committee will investigate former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s discussions with the Russian ambassador. ‘I think the fundamental question for us is what is our involvement in it, and who ought to look at it,’ the Kentucky Republican said. ‘And the intelligence committee is already looking at Russian involvement in our election. As Sen. (Roy) Blunt has already indicated, it is highly likely they will want to take look at this episode as well. They have the broad jurisdiction to do it.” The Senate’s second-ranking Republican and other GOP senators have called for an investigation into the episode, building on a string of investigations underway on Russian interference in the US elections. Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Tuesday that the Senate standing committees with oversight of intelligence needs to investigate.” [CNN]

PEREZ CLAIMS 80 PERCENT OF NEEDED DNC SUPPORT - Congratulations to the establishment. Gabrielle Debenedetti: “Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s Democratic National Committee chair campaign told POLITICO on Tuesday that it had reached 180 pledged supporters — a number that underscores the likelihood that the late-February vote will go to multiple rounds of balloting given the size of the field and the small voter pool. The onetime cabinet secretary is set to announce the mark in an email to DNC members on Tuesday afternoon, fewer than two weeks before the election…. [T]he vote ultimately comes down to 447 party insiders, necessitating 224 votes to win outright.” [Politico]

Eliot spent some time with DNC candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “In many ways, Buttigieg’s ascent mirrors that of another rising star in the party, New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who came to national prominence as the charismatic mayor of another down-on-its luck city, Newark. Like Booker, Buttigieig has forged close ties with Silicon Valley and other nodes of coastal power and has received praise for his job performance. It’s not uncommon for Buttigieg to reference former Harvard classmates or interactions with tech moguls in conversation…. If Buttigieg doesn’t already know a spot in Davos that has great kalberwurst, he probably will soon.” [HuffPost]

LA LA LA LA DONALD TRUMP’S ICE CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA - Instead, please refer to the 404 error on the administration’s Spanish-language webpages. Elise Foley: “The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement canceled a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus hours before it was set to occur on Tuesday ― avoiding what would have likely been a tense summit with lawmakers who are furious over recent deportation raids. Congressional sources said that ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan would no longer attend a meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Spokespeople for ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. House Democratic members requested the meeting to talk about deportation actions across the country last week. ICE officers arrested more than 680 immigrants in multiple states from Monday to Friday, officials said on Monday. About 75 percent of those detained had criminal records, according to ICE, although the agency did not break down the types of crimes and how many were solely immigration-related.” [HuffPost]

STATE LEGISLATURES ILL-EQUIPPED TO INVESTIGATE SEXUAL HARASSMENT - Good thing there is a robust local newspaper industry in our country. Sean Murphy: “Sexual harassment isn’t uncommon in state legislatures, although the number of complaints has never been compiled. Men hold, on average, more than 75 percent of the seats, along with most of the positions of power, while women compose a high percentage of staff members, office employees, interns and lobbyists…. Despite persistent incidents, many legislatures lack formal procedures for dealing with sexual harassment. While corporate America, colleges and government agencies have established processes for investigating complaints, state legislatures remain an often murky domain in which top leaders have broad latitude over how or whether to pursue allegations and can sidetrack them if they choose…. State legislatures are an ideal environment for covering up sexual improprieties, so women are reluctant to report incidents, said Maya Raghu, a Washington, D.C., attorney specializing in women’s issues who has conducted research on workplace sexual harassment.” [AP]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dog eating a smoothie.

COMFORT FOOD

- Danes ask Spaniards for help avoiding sunburn.

- Michelle Obama’s Valentine’s Day message.

- Chicks find a great new pad.

TWITTERAMA

@ProffJeffJarviss: In honor of Valentine’s Day, why not consider adding “XOXO” to the bottom of your LinkedIn connection requests?

@LizMartinezG: A world leader Valentine: It’s a Merkel you came into my life because Erdoğan I need.

Roses are red,

Gold suits Melania,

But this Valentine

Is for Flynn: Do svidaniya!

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com)

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