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‘Not totally in the loop’: Republicans fear Mike Pence has lost his spot in Trump’s inner circle

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On the heels of Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation it has been revealed that Vice President Mike Pence spent weeks doing television interviews delivering information based on Flynn’s statements. That information from Flynn has now been found to be a lie and intelligence officials and former officials revealed Flynn discussed American sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to the inauguration.

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Writing for the Washington Post, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker noted that no one sought to tell Pence that he had been misled for weeks, despite having the information. In fact, Pence only found out after the Washington Post broke the story that Flynn lied. Yet, aides to both the president and vice president report that the men speak on the phone or in person multiple times each day.

William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, asked if the ordeal weakened Pence and claimed that everybody is trying to figure out that fact.

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the vice president, told the Post that Pence only became aware of the Flynn situation last Thursday. “He did an inquiry based on those media accounts.”

Some close to Pence report that he was “blindsided” and “frustrated” by the misleading information. Pence was said to have urged Flynn to publicly apologize instead of resigning, however. It was the White House that found what Flynn did to be unacceptable and took action. After Pence, chief of staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Don McGahn had a conversation with Flynn, Pence decided the former lieutenant general should go.

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According to the Post, Pence and Priebus were both troubled by the conversation, “expressed dismay both with Flynn’s answers and the dawning reality that Flynn had deceived Pence.”

White House officials told the Post that keeping Pence out of the loop wasn’t intentional, rather it was a result of confusion. Despite a long relationship with McGahn, the White house counsel briefed Trump, Priebus and Steve Bannon, assuming that they would pass the information on to the vice president if he needed to know.

“Pence is trying to play a long game, keeping his head down and keeping his powder dry, assuming some of the more flamboyant types will blow up or blow out and he will be there as a trusted counselor a year or so from now,” Kristol said. Adding, “the long game can mislead you. If you end up keeping your powder dry and never using it, you end up being just another guy in the White House.”

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Republicans on the hill think it’s harmful to Pence, however. “It’s another example of him not being totally in the loop,” one Republican told the Post.


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Steve Schmidt: Trump’s ‘corruption’ is dragging America into ‘banana republic territory’

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On Monday's edition of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," former George W. Bush and John McCain adviser Steve Schmidt laid into President Donald Trump's "corruption," warning that it is undermining the foundations of the rule of law.

"The corruption is just unbelievable," said Schmidt, who recently left the Republican Party to become an independent. "And if you look back to the Republican convention, Joe, when we talked about it at the time, the chants of lock them up — what I said about it at the time was it was banana republicanism."

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Minimum wage workers win big union victory in anti-union Texas

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While Donald Trump’s Labor Department works to diminish employee rights, organized workers have scored an important victory deep in the heart of anti-union Texas.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2021 for 8,000 people at the city’s two airports. That’s a 65% increase for workers paid the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. About 8,000 baggage handlers, caterers, wheelchair attendants and others benefit.

The Service Employees International Union organized the Houston workers. Workers in Denver earlier won $15 an hour by 2021. A new ordinance proposed in Minneapolis would require $15 an hour by 2022.

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Here’s how Trump could unleash a horrifying ‘era of authoritarianism’ in his second term

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What happens if President Donald Trump not only survives impeachment, but goes on to win a second term? It's a prospect that chills Democrats to the bone — and for good reason.

On Monday, Politico mapped out a detailed, hypothetical scenario in which Trump wins re-election — similar to their 2016 scenario of what would happen if Trump was elected in the first place — and some of the things that people could expect in the coming years. The result would be, as former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean put it, "an era of authoritarianism."

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