Welcome to an early, Super Bowl Sunday edition of Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus my best scoops. I'd love your tips and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org. And please urge your friends and colleagues to join the conversation by signing up for Sneak Peek.
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"The memo" — which pitted the Justice Department against the White House and brought ugly partisan sniping into stark relief — is only the beginning.
Republican sources close to Devin Nunes tell me he's assured them there's much more to come. The House Intelligence chair and his team have told members and associates they've found other examples of politically motivated "wrongdoing" across various agencies, including the FBI, the broader Justice Department, and the State Department.
What we're hearing: Republicans close to Nunes say there could be as many as five additional memos or reports of "wrongdoing." But a source on the House Intelligence Committee tells me there's no current plan to use the same extraordinary and highly controversial process they just went through, with a vote and ultimately a presidential approval to declassify sensitive information.
I'm told the Nunes team has discussed producing additional reports or disclosures that don't require declassification.
Names you'll hear a lot more often: A Republican source briefed on Nunes’ investigations told me some of the work focuses on the activities of two longtime backers of Bill and Hillary Clinton: Sid Blumenthal and controversial activist Cody Shearer. The Guardian has reported that the FBI reviewed a second Trump-Russia dossier which Shearer — an ally of Bill Clinton’s White House back in the ‘90s — put together.
Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s closest aide for more than a decade, told me he has never heard of Shearer.
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
A month ago, Republicans across the country were deeply dejected and grim, expecting a Midterm wipeout with Democrats flipping the House and then quickly moving to impeach President Trump. Now, that conventional wisdom is starting to shake.
Three things have happened since late December:
Between the lines: Most forecasters still predict Democrats will win the 24 seats they need to flip the House. Democrats have history and retirements on their side; according to Politifact, "In midterms since 1862, the president's party has averaged losses of about 32 seats in the House and more than two seats in the Senate."
Republican internal polls mirror that, according to Ryan Mahoney at the RNC and Brian Walsh at the pro-Trump group America First Policies. Mahoney said the tax bill has gained favorability both nationwide and in key congressional districts.
Be smart: For Democrats, big Midterm wins are far from guaranteed.
Congress continues to stagger from near-shutdown to near-shutdown, with the government set to run out of money on Thursday. Leadership sources tell me they expect to seal yet another short-term funding deal to keep the government sputtering along while leaders of both parties try to compromise on the toughest items: defense spending, domestic spending levels, and an immigration deal.
Sources in Republican and Democratic leadership tell me they've still not agreed on how long the temporary bill will last. They're currently discussing dates in late March. Then we'll lurch back to crisis mode.
Bottom line: The next month will be a mess, and it's hard to predict the outcome. Democrats and Republicans are trying to pass a massive spending deal to dramatically boost defense spending and inflate other domestic spending. It'll be expensive, add to the national debt, and further undermine the notion that Republicans are the party of fiscal discipline. They'll also need to raise the debt ceiling, while aiming to fund the border wall and protect DACA recipients.
A source close to Republican leadership texted that they don’t expect any other big legislative successes before the midterms.
"My general premise is the whole rest of the year is going to be them holding things together with chicken wire and duct tape,” he wrote.
A GOP leadership source rebutted: "There’ll still be big things to get done but obviously nothing will be bigger than tax reform. It’s the biggest thing in 30 years."
President Trump's schedule this week:
The House and Senate need to cut a deal to keep the government funded beyond Thursday.
Tillerson in Mexico City. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images
A little-known State Department spokesman named Steve Goldstein has won the universal loathing of White House staff. He's the mystery official who told reporters last week that "The president's comments [to Homeland Security officials] were not helpful," per a source briefed on the situation.
White House staff want him canned: Unprompted, a senior White House official sent me a screenshot of Goldstein's quote. "What's 'not helpful' is that people who aren't willing to do their duty and support the president's agenda are being allowed to keep their jobs," the official texted.
Other administration officials say they believe Goldstein has a history of exacerbating tensions between the White House and the State Department. They point to comments he made to the NYT and other newspapers about the Jerusalem embassy move that were seen as unhelpful in the lead-up to the vice president's recent trip to Israel.
Asked about this, Goldstein replied: "In the nine weeks since being sworn in I have had only one goal: to support the Secretary of State and this administration as we work to support America’s foreign policy. Ultimately we all work for the American people, and that’s how I spend my day."
Our thought bubble: It's Steve Goldstein vs. the world — and we're betting on the world.