Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

While the White House has sought to distance itself from campaign staff with ties to Russia this past week by suggesting those under scrutiny were fringe players — including Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connections tightened this morning with the New York Times reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to question Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin. Senate Committee to Question Jared Kushner Over Meetings With Russians:

The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.

Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which drew sanctions from the Obama administration after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.

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Political Calendar: Week of March 26, 2017

The Political Calendar is posted on Sundays. Please send us notice of your political events prior to the Sunday before your event (7 days would be most helpful). See the calendar icon in the right-hand column of the blog page for easy access to the calendar.

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Political Calendar for the Week of March 26, 2017:

Sunday, March 26, 3:00 p.m.: Marana Democrats meeting, at the Continental Reserve Plaza, 8333 N. Silverbell Road, Tucson. For more information please contact Buddy Gill at maranadems@gmail.com or (408) 806-2036.

Sunday, March 26, 8:00 p.m.: Laughing Liberally Tucson returns to lampoon the national, state and local political scene. Come out and enjoy Tucson’s best and brightest comics as we try our best to save democracy…one laugh at a time. it’s FUN… it’s FREE… The Flycatcher, 340 E 6th Street (at 4th Avenue), Tucson. Usually the last Sunday every month.

Monday, March 27, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. Featured speaker is Marriah Star, The importance of a Constitutional Convention. Next Week:  TPD Chief Chris Magnus, on Neighborhood policing and restructure of TPD.

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Cartoon of The Week

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Democrats will filibuster the stolen seat on the U.S. Supreme Court

With all the craziness going on in Washington this week, one of the critical stories that got buried in the news was the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This was partly due to the fact that Judge Gorsuch is a good actor and he stuck to the well-rehearsed script by being purposefully vague in his answers about his judicial philosophy.

A classic scripted moment was when he was asked the set-up question whether Donald Trump had asked him if he would overturn Roe v. Wade if appointed to the court. Gorsuch put on his most sincere morally righteous face and said “I would have walked out of the room.”

Maybe Judge Gorsuch will be nominated for an Emmy Award this year for best dramatic performance in a television series on C-Span.

The fact is that there are 52 Tea-Publican senators and not one of them is going to vote against Judge Gorsuch. Tea-Publicans purposefully engaged in an unprecedented and unconstitutional blockade of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, even before they knew the nominee, in order to steal this seat on the Supreme Court. They fully intend to complete their crime against democracy.

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House Intelligence Committee chairman has undermined the credibility of the committee

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes Apologized to Intel. Committee Members—But Won’t Explain His Stunt:

On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House intelligence committee, blew up the congressional intelligence oversight process. On Thursday morning, at a private committee meeting, he apologized to his colleagues. But, according to a committee source, Nunes would not say what he thought he had done wrong or explain his actions.

Without consulting with the members of his committee—Republicans and Democrats—Nunes on Wednesday held two press conferences, during which he claimed he had been given information indicating that members of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team, including possibly Trump, were picked up during lawfully authorized intelligence surveillance of other targets and that their identities were disclosed in intelligence reporting based on these intercepts. Nunes also rushed to the White House to share this information with Trump.

Note: House Intelligence chair partially backs off claim about surveillance of Trump transition team: “The head of the House Intelligence Committee partially backed away from his dramatic claim [on Wednesday] that officials in President Trump’s transition team had been subjects of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, with an aide saying that Chairman Devin Nunes did not know “for sure.” “Until Nunes sees the actual documents, he does not know whether any of the transition officials were actually part of the surveilled conversations or were just talked about by others, spokesman Jack Langer said Thursday.” “He’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” Langer said.

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BREAKING: GOP’s ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill is pulled for a lack of GOP votes

John Boehner, the “TanMan,” was the “Worst. Speaker. Ever.” He was weak and ineffectual, and could not herd cats in his caucus, i.e., the radical right-wing GOP House Freedom Caucus. The lunatics eventually forced him to resign from his Speaker position.

John Boehner’s successor, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin” and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, is giving the “TanMan” a challenge to his title as “Worst. Speaker. Ever.” He also is weak and ineffectual, and cannot herd cats in his caucus, i.e., the radical right-wing GOP House Freedom Caucus. It is now an open question whether he also will be forced to resign from his Speaker position.

And then of course, there is “The Donald,” the self-proclaimed master of “the art of the deal.” White House Press Secretary “Baghdad Sean” Spicer said during his daily briefing that Trump had personally lobbied 120 lawmakers, either in person or on the phone. Trump had “left everything on the field.” Asked whether the president would continue to fight for the bill if it does not pass Friday, Spicer said, “This is it.”

The GOP’s “Obamacare”repeal and replace bill, now “Trumpcare 3.0,” was scheduled for a vote at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Instead, at 3:33 p.m. the House was recessed with the bill subject to call.

The Washington Post reports, House Republican leaders abruptly pull their rewrite of the nation’s health-care law:

House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a Republican rewrite of the nation’s health-care system from consideration on Friday, a dramatic acknowledgment that they are so far unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We just pulled it,” President Trump told the Washington Post in a telephone interview.

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