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Democrats fuming over new efforts to stop Russia probe

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A growing number of Democrats are lambasting Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to fire Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Friday.

The big picture: This was compounded by President Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, urging Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

What they're saying:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): "Jeff Sessions needs to testify immediately before the Judiciary Committee to answer questions on the firing of Andrew McCabe. He must explain the DOJ’s process and whether this is an attempt to target, punish or silence those investigating Russia and the Trump campaign."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.): "In the absence of the IG report, it’s impossible to evaluate the merits of this harsh treatment of a 21-year FBI professional. That it comes after the President urged the DOJ to deprive McCabe of his pension, and after his testimony, gives the action an odious taint."

  • Another tweet: "The President, through his lawyer, called on DOJ to end Mueller probe. Obstruction of justice is no less a threat to our democracy when done in the open than behind closed doors. Every representative should condemn this flagrant abuse of power or stop pretending devotion to duty. "

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a series of tweets: "McCabe firing is an undisguised attack on Special Counsel investigation - attempting to undermine him as a witness. Added evidence of obstruction of justice.

  • McCabe firing - a shot at Special Counsel - makes legislation protecting the investigation more vital than ever. Investigation putting Oval Office under siege - raising specter of more firings.
  • Firing McCabe - a possible witness to obstruction - exemplifies Pres. Trump’s total contempt for the rule of law. He will stop at nothing to undermine the Mueller investigation.
  • Firing McCabe threatens professional law enforcement with blatant political interference - a disservice to dedicated men and women of FBI and other agencies.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): "Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the Special Counsel. Now."

Jonathan Swan 12 hours ago
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Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump said something that shocked some of the people who helped prepare his briefing materials for the conversations. According to three sources familiar with the call, Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not.

The details: Trump was pressing Bibi on the importance of striking a "deal" for Mideast peace. He'd read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.

Jonathan Swan 12 hours ago
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Kellyanne Conway rises — again

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has never actually wanted the job of White House communications director, according to sources who've discussed it with her, but Axios has learned that she left many in the White House communications team this week with the impression that she'd be leading the team in some capacity.

Behind the scenes: Senior White House communications official Mercedes Schlapp convened an off-site team-building and planning retreat last week for the White House comms team. They held the session on Thursday at the General Services Administration building a couple blocks from the WH (the same building that once housed the transition).