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McEnany says it was the "right decision" not to brief Trump on Russian bounty intelligence

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that the career CIA officer who chose not to verbally brief President Trump on the intelligence about alleged Russian bounties made "the right decision."

Driving the news: National security adviser Robert O'Brien told Fox News earlier Wednesday that "once the U.S. received raw intelligence on the Russian bounties, U.S. and coalition forces were made aware even though the intelligence wasn't verified."


  • "The DOD came out and said as soon as we had this information, we made sure that we had tactics in place, that we took protective measures, to look after our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Afghanistan. That hasn't been reported. That was done right," O'Brien said.
  • "Here at the White House, when we had this raw intelligence, we started an interagency process to look at options, so that if the intelligence turned out to be verified, if it could be corroborated, then we'd have options to go to the president with to address the Russian situation."

Why it matters: The revelation that the U.S. military took "protective measures" after learning about the intelligence has raised questions about why the commander in chief wasn't briefed.

  • Former national security adviser John Bolton told CBS on Wednesday: "You don't take everything in to the president, but when American troops are threatened by an adversary like Russia in this way, if there's any indication this is an ongoing operation, it's something the president needs to take into account."
  • Bolton also cautioned that it's difficult to brief Trump because he's "just not receptive to new facts" and has a "lack of interest in intelligence.

Worth noting: The New York Times has reported that the intelligence was in the written President's Daily Brief in February, which Trump has been reported to seldom read.

What she's saying: "Until there's a strategic decision for the president to make, until it is verified, it is not briefed up to the president of the United States, that's how intelligence works," McEnany told reporters.

  • "Ambassador O'Brien and the otherswho made the decision that this shouldn't be risen to his desk — it was a career CIA officer of more than 30 years of tenure who made the decision not to brief it up, and the national security adviser agreed with that decision."
  • "She's an excellent officer and does great work, and made the decision not to brief it up. It was the right decision to make, and at this moment, as I speak to you, it is still unverified," McEnany said.

Flashback: McEnany condemned the New York Times on Tuesday for publishing "unverified" allegations about intelligence on the reported Russian bounties, suggesting that "rogue intelligence officers" are undermining Trump and the country's security.

Schumer: Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

Why it matters: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice for “incitement of insurrection" after a violent pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.

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CDC shifts COVID vaccine guidance, expanding minimum interval between doses for exceptional cases

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Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

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Texas attorney general sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

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Biden administration unveils 3-pronged plan to combat domestic extremism

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Why it matters: The federal government's approach to domestic extremism has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. In his inaugural address, Biden repudiated political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism, vowing to defeat them.

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Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

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House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is constitutionally required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been pushing for the trial to begin in mid-February, arguing that it will force the Senate to delay other important business.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.

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New Energy Department roles look to animate Biden's campaign themes

The burst of Biden administration staffing picks announced yesterday revealed that the Energy Department (DOE) has newly created roles that reflect what President Biden called campaign priorities.

Driving the news: One new position is "director of energy jobs," which is being filled by Jennifer Jean Kropke. She was previously the first director of workforce and environmental engagement with Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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