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Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate intelligence committee and we’re going to go ahead and give his appearance three-out-of-four Dainty White Glove Slaps™ on HuffPost’s patented Southern Gentry Outrage System© . On that note, Washington hasn’t been this preoccupied by what did or didn’t happen at the Mayflower since Eliot Spitzer checked in as George Fox. And Senate Republicans tried to stymie reporting on Capitol Hill; we’re old enough to remember when politics worked and lawmakers simply body-slammed reporters rather than take official action against them. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, June 13th, 2017:
SESSIONS TESTIFIES... Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotosky: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to comment Tuesday on whether he spoke to President Trump about former FBI Director James B. Comey’s handling of the investigation into coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race. Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee he could not discuss his conversations with Trump because they were private. ‘I am not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others,’ Sessions said. Sessions opened his testimony to the panel with a fiery assertion that he never had any conversations with Russians about ‘any type of interference’ in the 2016 presidential election. ‘The suggestion that I participated in any collusion…is an appalling and detestable lie,’ Sessions said.” [WaPo]
...DISPUTE’S COMEY’S TESTIMONY - Ryan J. Reilly: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday disputed the sworn testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, who said last week that Sessions ‘did not reply’ when Comey raised concerns that President Donald Trump was violating rules limiting contacts between the Justice Department and the White House. Sessions, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday, also said that direct discussions between Comey and Trump would only be problematic if they had discussed ongoing investigations. ‘There’s nothing wrong with the president having a communication with the FBI director,’ Sessions said.” [HuffPost]
Sessions didn’t recall any meetings with Russians at the Mayflower.
Bwaaaaaaaa?!? “Sessions, who, as attorney general, is the country’s top law enforcement official, claims he has never received a classified briefing about Russian interference in last year’s election.” [HuffPost’s Live Blog]
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the Senate intelligence committee that he ― not Trump ― has the power to fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
SENATE GOP TRIES TO CLAMP DOWN ON CONGRESSIONAL REPORTING - Michael Calderone: “Reporters on Capitol Hill are facing alarming new restrictions when trying to interview senators, journalists from multiple media outlets said Tuesday. NBC News reporter Kasie Hunt tweeted that ‘reporters at Capitol have been told they are not allow [sic] to film interviews with senators in hallways.’ And Bloomberg News’ Kevin Cirilli tweeted that he was told he couldn’t ‘stand outside of the Budget Committee hearing room to interview lawmakers.’ The tweets sent shockwaves around the Capitol on Tuesday, with reporters and senators trying to understand...now reporters were being told they need permission from the specific senator and the Senate Rules Committee…. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, was reportedly behind the decision, with even some members of his own committee apparently learning about the news from Twitter.” [HuffPost]
A senior GOP House aide sends us their thoughts on their Senate counterparts’ move: “I understand the frustration from lawmakers because of the increased media presence on the Hill, but this seems like an overreaction from the Senate. I think there are ways to address the issue without shutting down press access. Plus, don’t senators want to be on TV?? “ [More reporting from HuffPost’s congressional team]
A senior Democratic Senate aide lets loose (while referencing this): “It’s a total unforced error…. [T]his new rule is an unenforceable overreach that feeds into the anti-press narrative that Trump has fomented. The financial industry lobbyists that Shelby leverages to buy himself fancy dinners and stay at luxury resorts with the help if his unnecessarily large campaign war chest will be able to work the hallways without scuffing their wingtips, no matter how big the scrums get. There’s no reason to jam the press so lobbyists can make their appointments following a long lunch at Bistro Bis.”
What life reporting on Capitol Hill is like, from Eliot’s book: “If White House reporting is characterized by the highly controlled environs of the West Wing, then congressional reporting is defined by the access that its practitioners have to their sources. Outside of the chamber floors, members’ offices, and closed-door meetings, there aren’t many places reporters can’t go in the Capitol complex…. The open world of the Capitol can make congressional reporting feel a bit like a legislative Grand Theft Auto, but without the violence and only slightly less misogyny and drugs.” [A great summer read, we swear!]
@kkrawchenko: POTUS interviewed Mueller for FBI Director a day before he was appointed special counsel, a WH official confirms to CBS News
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Joseph Erbentraut and Arthur Delaney: “In an apparent effort to siphon more business from retail competitors, the online ordering giant Amazon is offering discounts to welfare recipients, though experts say it’s unlikely that many will sign up. Last week, Amazon announced that it would offer membership to its Amazon Prime service — which comes with perks including free expedited shipping and access to its video and music streaming platforms — at a discounted rate of $5.99 per month for active recipients of federal assistance like food stamps. Most people won’t be able to actually spend benefits online ― at least not yet. But Amazon is likely betting that someday soon, they will. And when that day comes, the corporate giant wants a cut of the action, which is already worth billions to Walmart and other big retailers. “ [HuffPost]
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DEMOCRATIC SOUL-SEARCHING IN VIRGINIA - Daniel Marans: “Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam squares off against progressive favorite Tom Perriello on Tuesday in the state’s highly competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary, where the left flank of the party hopes national momentum will carry it to a win. Thanks to Virginia’s status as one of two states with gubernatorial races this year (the other is New Jersey), the primary has attracted historic levels of attention and resources from Democrats eager to land a blow against President Donald Trump. Northam, a 57-year-old pediatric neurologist, had locked up the support of virtually every major elected official in Virginia and was poised to cruise to the nomination until Perriello, a 42-year-old former diplomat and one-term congressman, announced his run in January.” [HuffPost]
This is fine: “President Donald Trump’s job approval weekly average edged down to 37% during the week ending June 11. This rating is one percentage point below the previous week’s rating and is the lowest weekly average of his administration. His disapproval rating for the same week, 58%, was his highest to date.” [Gallup]
THE THINKING MAN’S SELF-DEPORTATION - Looks like the House minority leader is throwing some cold water on the rush by a handful of Dems to introduce articles of impeachment. Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi believes President Donald Trump will ‘self-impeach’ and that Democrats should wait for the Russia investigations — especially special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — to play out before pushing to remove him from the Oval Office. Pelosi also believes that if Trump fired Mueller — which some Trump allies are encouraging the president to do — it would be enough to push Republicans to begin seriously considering acting against the president on their own…. Pelosi’s comments came during a tense discussion over controversial actions from Rep. Brad Sherman, who circulated a draft article of impeachment Monday and said he might force debate on the issue on the House floor. Sherman’s tactic prompted a stern rebuke from fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano of Massachusetts during Tuesday’s caucus meeting.” [Politico]
TRUMP’S SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM BLOCKING PEOPLE ON TWITTER - Wow, what if we have a constitutional crisis because someone slid into someone else’s DMs? Sam Stein: “At 8:10 a.m. Tuesday, the progressive veterans advocacy group VoteVets alerted its Twitter followers that it had been blocked by President Donald Trump. Hours later, the novelist Stephen King let it be known that he too had been stymied from viewing Trump’s 140 character missives. Jordan Uhl, an organizer known for quickly responding to Trump’s tweets with what can best be described as trollish behavior, said he also was blocked on Tuesday. As did Brandon Neely, a former Guantanamo Bay guard who’s been a Trump critic…. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University is representing the legion of the Trump-blocked…. [Knight executive director] Jaffer said that all told, ‘close to 40 people’ now have reached out to the Knight Institute to alert them that they’ve been blocked.” [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some police puppies.
MAN AND CHICKEN HAVE MOMENT - ‘Abortion chicken’ is just another instance of our search history confusing the Russians tasked with hacking our computers. Laura Bassett: “Republican state Rep. Mike Moon of Missouri posted a video of himself slaughtering a chicken on Monday to spotlight his new bill to ban abortion in the state. In the Facebook video, Moon breaks a chicken’s neck and rips its heart out while explaining to the camera that Gov. Eric Greitens (R) has called lawmakers back for a special session this summer to limit abortion. Then, wearing a blood-spattered white t-shirt, Moon announces his own legislation…. ‘Whatever Mike Moon does with a chicken in the privacy of his home is his own business,’ Alison Dreith, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, told the Missouri Times. ‘But we will not let him use the rights of women across Missouri as some kind of political prop. His call to ban abortion is disturbing and dangerous, no matter what he does with that chicken.’” [HuffPost]
- Sleeping pig greatly appreciates any and all peppermints you can provide.
- A handy web app that will predict when robots will take your job.
- Twitter is not keen to have dinner with President Trump.
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