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Alex Brandon / AP

Dems smell blood, but it's not necessarily Jeff Sessions'. The attorney general held his own at his high-stakes Senate hearing, at one point raising his voice to declare he was "not stonewalling," and resented the "secret innuendo being leaked out there about me."

But Democrats tell me that with his dodges, artful and otherwise (L.A. Times lead: "Sessions defends, demurs and deflects"), Sessions left a host of openings — about himself and President Trump — that congressional investigators will pursue. Bob Mueller's prosecutors can be expected to do the same.

The real audience: Jeremy Bash, a lawyer and former Obama national security official, told Brian Williams on MSNBC: "I think Mueller could use a grand jury and overcome this [implied] claim of executive privilege."

  • "[W]hen he was asked, ... '[W]hat did [Trump] say about the rationale for firing Comey,' the attorney general refused to answer. That goes to the heart of the question of whether the president may have obstructed justice."

Between the lines: Matt Miller, an Obama Justice Department official who has become a go-to commentator on the investigation, emailed me: "[N]o immediate public revelation, but a red flag in front of the bull named Bob Mueller. ... If Sessions had a good answer about conversations with Trump about firing Comey, he would've just given it."

  • "Sessions can probably get out of ever giving the answer to a Republican Congress, but my guess is his performance earned him a ticket to a grand jury."
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer: "If you had done nothing wrong, the obvious conclusion is you'd be happy to talk about things."

But, but, but: Jonathan Swan points out that the White House and the RNC war room got what they wanted, with more fodder for attacking Comey's credibility, and we should expect them to use it.

Over on Fox News, Tucker Carlson continued his nightly defense of Sessions with a sarcastic: "It's always possible that a high-level defector will appear ... with documents proving that Jeff Sessions is, in fact, a foreign agent, ... perhaps of a sleeper cell sent to Alabama during the Cold War and activated at Vladimir Putin's request during the last election."

Be smart: Sessions was never the "satellite" Trump insiders fret most.

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Go deeper

Biden admin grants Colonial waiver to ease fuel shortages

Fuel tanks at Colonial Pipeline Baltimore Delivery in Baltimore, Maryland on Monday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration approved a temporary waiver of shipping requirements late Wednesday to help Colonial Pipeline transport fuel, as service resumes across the U.S. following a ransomware attack that that took it offline last week.

Why it matters: The century-old Jones Act requires ships to be built in the U.S. and crewed by American workers, but the waiver means foreign companies can transport gasoline and diesel to areas where there are fuel shortages.

Updated 55 mins ago - World

Over 70 dead in worst bombardments between Israel and Hamas for years

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes in Gaza on May 13, 2021. Israeli forces said on May 12 they had killed a senior Hamas commander and bombed several buildings. Gaza's health ministry has said children are among the dead. Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least 67 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in fighting between Israel's military and Hamas since Monday, per Reuters.

The big picture: The worst aerial exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas since 2014 continued into early Thursday. It come days after escalating violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers during protests over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Don McGahn agrees to closed-door interview with House panel on Russia report

Former White House counsel Don McGahn during a discussion at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former White House counsel Don McGahn agreed Wednesday to speak with the House Judiciary Committee about former President Trump's alleged attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation — with certain conditions, per a court filing.

Why it matters: The agreement ends a two-year standoff after McGahn, a key player in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, repeatedly refused to agree to a subpoena for testimony — resulting in the matter being taken to court.

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