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Senate Judiciary subpoenas Paul Manafort

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday "regarding the enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and attempts to influence U.S. elections."

The statement from chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein:

"While we were willing to accommodate Mr. Manafort's request to cooperate with the committee's investigation without appearing at Wednesday's hearing, we were unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Manafort, through his attorney, said that he would be willing to provide only a single transcribed interview to Congress, which would not be available to the Judiciary Committee members or staff. While the Judiciary Committee was willing to cooperate on equal terms with any other committee to accommodate Mr. Manafort's request, ultimately that was not possible. Therefore, yesterday evening, a subpoena was issued to compel Mr. Manafort's participation in Wednesday's hearing. As with other witnesses, we may be willing to excuse him from Wednesday's hearing if he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview, with the understanding that the interview would not constitute a waiver of his rights or prejudice the committee's right to compel his testimony in the future."




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Scaramucci's first firing at the White House

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has threatened to purge staffers for leaking, and as reported by Politico's Tara Palmeri, the first to go will be assistant press secretary Michael Short, who is close to Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus.

The decision reportedly comes along with an offer of "amnesty" for other staffers, but on Short, Scaramucci told Politico the order came from above his pay grade. He reports directly to President Trump.

Scaramucci's quote to Politico: "I'm committed to taking the comms shop down to Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] and me, if I can't get the leaks to stop."

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How Trump spent his morning: Live-tweeting "Fox & Friends"

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

President Trump's Tuesday morning Tweetstorm was in direct response to what he watched on "Fox & Friends." From his son-in-law Jared Kushner, to the health care vote and Sen. John McCain's return to Washington, here's how Trump's tweets line up with this morning's episode of "Fox & Friends":

Jared Kushner

"Fox & Friends" aired both Kushner's statement at the White House Monday, where he said he didn't collude with Russia, as well as Lara Trump's Monday night appearance on "The Story" where she commended Kushner for his transparency.

Trump's tweet: Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!"

John McCain

"Fox & Friends" hosts discussed how Sen. McCain, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, is returning to the Senate today for this week's health care vote.

Trump's tweet: "So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero! Thank you John."

Health care

"Fox & Friends" discussed several different aspects of the Senate's health care vote this week. They aired a clip of Trump speaking last night about "repealing Obamacare," a woman struggling under the current health system, and later had Sen. Rand Paul and newly-appointed Press Secretary Sarah Sanders as guests to speak about the upcoming vote.

Trump's tweets: "Big day for HealthCare. After 7 years of talking, we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate!" ... "ObamaCare is torturing the American People.The Democrats have fooled the people long enough. Repeal or Repeal & Replace! I have pen in hand." ... "This will be a very interesting day for HealthCare.The Dems are obstructionists but the Republicans can have a great victory for the people!"

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Fully autonomous cars will cost hundreds of thousands

Luminar

The first generation of truly autonomous cars — in which you can safely doze off through city and highway driving, and never have to touch the wheel — may cost $300,000 to $400,000, says the CEO of a Silicon Valley company that makes autonomous sensing systems.

  • In other words, you and I are highly unlikely ever to own a car that takes us anywhere we want to go while we read the newspaper, according to Austin Russell, CEO of Luminar, a Silicon Valley startup that's developing a Lidar visual system for self-driving.
  • The reason: The expense of Lidar and other sophisticated sensing devices required to make autonomous cars safe around unpredictable humans. Russell said such technology doesn't currently exist, but that when it does, it will be almost the exclusive preserve of ride-hailing fleet owners such as GM, Lyft and Uber.
  • "People think that they'll go and buy and autonomous cars. That's not going to reflect reality," Russell tells Axios.

We reported yesterday that, against announcements that full autonomy is coming in 2019, 2021 or 2022, depending who you talk to, truly self-driving cars able to work in any normal conditions probably won't be on the market until the 2030s. Until then, we will see only limited autonomy — the ability to drive handless on highways, or elsewhere along specific courses, in certain lanes.

What are analysts getting wrong? In the case of both timing and cost, it's how far developers are from a sensing system that can deal with almost anything humans might do, Russell says.

No one is anywhere close, he says: Current sensing technology typically has a "critical failure rate" — how often it fails to "see" an object, or to see it correctly — of 1 in 1,000 miles. To be acceptable for introduction onto public roads, that needs to drop significantly — to 1 in 5 million, Russell says.

Lidar, the leading sensing technology, "has had no performance advance in decades. We are seeing the same type of technology," he said.

There is too much focus on cost: Most of the attention is on bringing down the price of Lidar to $1,000, or even $100, so that self-driving can be embraced by the mass market. Current top-of-the-line Lidar — those boxes you see on top of test cars tooling around big cities — cost $75,000 to $85,000. When the technology is optimized, the price will be $300,000 to $400,000, Russell said.

Commercially speaking, that doesn't matter: "The biggest question is not cost, but who is going to get there first," Russell said.

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Report: Manafort to share Don Jr. meeting notes with Senate

Matt Rourke / AP

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer in June of last year, will be sharing notes of the meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a "person close to the investigation," Politico reports.

Manafort will be meeting with the committee in the next 48 hours in a closed session, per that report. His spokesman, Jason Maloni, told Axios they're feeling "upbeat" and "very positive" about the testimony.

Compare this: Manafort took notes, but Kushner said the meeting was "a waste of our time" and one he "did not recall at all" until it came up in recent media reports and Trump Jr. said the meeting produced "no meaningful information."

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Scaramucci: Trump "probably" wants Sessions gone

Alex Brandon / AP

Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, shared his thoughts on the Trump-Jeff Sessions drama during an interview with Hugh Hewitt this morning. When asked if it's clear that Trump wants Sessions out of the White House, he told Hewitt "you're probably right," ultimately confirming the tension between the two is not getting any better.

"I have an enormous amount of respect for the Attorney General, but I do know the president pretty well," Scaramucci said, "and if there's this level of tension in the relationship that, that's public, you're probably right."

Although he added he didn't want to speak for the President on this, his next question to Hewitt was telling: "Are you available to be the Attorney General?"

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Boehner on Trump: "I never really saw him as president"


Saul Loeb / AP

Former House speaker John Boehner told a business gathering in Las Vegas that Republicans will never repeal and replace Obamacare because Americans "have gotten accustomed to it," according to the Washington Post.

The big quote: "Here we are, seven months into this year, and yet they've not passed this bill. Now, they're never — they're not going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

His predictions: Republicans will resort to peeling away parts of the law, like employer and individual mandates. Boehner also said he thinks Governors will have more control over Medicaid and there will be fewer Obamacare taxes.

On Trump:

  • He's a "friend of mine. We've played a lot of golf together over the years. He was a donor of mine."
  • "I never really saw him as president. You all know what I mean."
  • He said Trump needs to "quit tweeting."
  • "I mean, going after Mika Brzezinski or Joe Scarborough? What the hell is the point?"
  • "You never get into a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. He does it every day."

On media: "What's making everything even worse today is because we have so much news, people get to choose where they get their news. It used to be we had three big TV networks, five big newspapers, and five big radio stations and whatever they said was the news. Everybody else followed what they do."

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Trump's "America First" policy is dividing the WH

Alex Brandon / AP

Reuters foreign affairs and national security editor John Walcott writes about the unrest and disarray building within the WH:

  • "The clash between internationalists ... and advocates of an 'America First' approach has worn down foreign policy and intelligence professionals inside the government."
  • "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told friends he will be lucky to last a year in his job, according to a friend, while two officials said national security adviser H.R. McMaster was frustrated by what he sees as disorganization and indiscipline on key policy issues inside the White House."
  • Not a good sign: "R.C. Hammond, Tillerson's spokesman, denied Tillerson was considering leaving."
  • "Senior national security officials said McMaster was dismayed that his recommendations, backed by his senior director for Russia, Fiona Hill, about taking a tough stance with ... Putin, had been ignored."
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Sinclair-Tribune deal would create conservative "broadcast colossus"

Variety cover story, about the deal by Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, which includes "must-run" conservative commentary in local newscasts, to buy the giant Tribune Media:

  • "Sinclair's conservative credentials are seen as the reason newly appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai moved quickly ... to pave the way for the Sinclair-Tribune deal ... that would bring together more than 200 stations that reach some 72% of U.S. TV households in 81 markets, including 39 of the nation's 50 largest markets."
  • "The combined entity would become a broadcast colossus the likes of which the industry has never seen."
  • "Sinclair has generated controversy by mandating all of its stations run [former Trump official Boris] Epshteyn's nine-times-weekly 'Bottom Line With Boris' commentary segments. The former Trump strategist has unfailingly supported his ex-boss in virtually all of his two-minute segments."
  • Why it matters: "The size and scope of Sinclair after absorbing Tribune has accelerated the M&A fever that was already brewing among TV station owners large and small. Everyone ... predicts the local TV landscape will be transformed by a wave of consolidation in the next two to three years."
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No one knows what the Senate's going to do. But it will do it today.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

It's impossible to overstate how incredible this is:

  • The Senate is planning to vote today to begin debate on a health care bill.
  • No one knows which one — which means no one knows what it would do. Would it fundamentally restructure Medicaid? Would it send individual insurance markets across the country into a tailspin?
  • The Senate won't know until it has already voted, later in the week, on one bill or another. And all of the available options still have major holes.

But their chances of getting there seem to be improving.

  • Stranger things have happened, but Sen. John McCain probably isn't taking a break from his brain-cancer treatments to travel 2,300 miles across the country so he can torpedo a bill about an issue he's never been especially invested in, which he could have torpedoed just as easily by staying in Arizona.
  • If McCain is a "yes" on today's motion to proceed — and, sure, take nothing for granted, but if — then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a considerably better position.
  • Sen. Susan Collins is a "no." But it sounds like Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee will get their request to begin the voting with a modified version of the 2015 straight-repeal vote. If those two support the motion to proceed, it would take two more moderates to join Collins and prevent a vote-a-rama.

What to expect when you're repealing

Here's the nitty-gritty of how we're told the process will unfold:

  1. Today, McConnell will call a vote on a motion to proceed to the House-passed bill.
  2. If the motion to proceed succeeds, McConnell would then offer a substitute amendment of some sort, and the clock would start running on 20 hours of debate. (It could take longer than 20 real-world hours to exhaust 20 legislative hours.)
  3. Senate aides tell my colleague Caitlin Owens the primary substitute would probably be the 2015 repeal-only bill, with a version of repeal-and-replace offered as an amendment to that amendment.
  4. Once those 20 hours are up, the voting marathon begins — on amendments to McConnell's substitute, and on points of order to strip out provisions that don't conform to the Senate's budget rules. McConnell could also offer different substitutes during this part of the process.
  5. If and when everyone has worn themselves out, at the end of the process, they'd vote on whether to adopt the substitute amendment, including whatever changes have been made to it throughout the process; and then to pass the underlying bill.

How insane could all this get? Completely, wildly, utterly, spectacularly insane:

  • No one knows how long the process will take or how it's likely to end.
  • Even though reconciliation is a partisan process, the particulars of using it have, in the past, relied heavily on bipartisan agreement. We asked our experts, for example, how the process ends — what's the mechanism to say a vote-a-rama is over and there are no more amendments? Usually, they have ended when the minority party either wears itself out or just agrees that after a certain point, the Senate can move on. This could all get even messier without that agreement.
  • Per Caitlin, senators are still trying to broker compromises — including one between Sens. Rob Portman and Ted Cruz that would revive Cruz's consumer-choice proposal while adding more money to help states stabilize their markets. Those amendments, though, haven't been evaluated by CBO and therefore would require 60 votes, which means they'd fail.

Key caveat: A successful motion to begin the voting process doesn't necessarily mean any of the underlying health care bills will pass. But this has been leadership's message so far: Just let us get on the bill. Each incremental victory puts another one within reach.