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White House considered easing Russian sanctions even after Flynn’s departure: report

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The Trump administration considered “unilaterally” easing sanctions on Russia’s oil industry well after the ouster of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, the Daily Beast reports.

Former U.S. officials told the Beast the White House tried to argue the sanctions against the Russian oil industry harm the U.S. economy, but State Department officials were able to successfully argue the opposite is true.

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“Russia continues to occupy Ukraine including Crimea—conditions that led to the sanctions have not changed,” one State Department official explained to a White House aide, according to emails of that exchange. Barack Obama imposed sanctions against Russia after the country annexed Crimea in 2014.

National Security Council strategist Kevin Harrington was “very aggressively pushing” for officials to determine “whether U.S. national interests were being harmed by sanctions on Russian oil,” according to one former official. Those requests were made in March under General H.R. McMaster, who was named Trump’s national security adviser following Flynn’s departure.

Discussions of sanctions against Russia ultimately sank Flynn’s short-lived tenure at the White House; the president fired Flynn after the administration claimed Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Trump transition. The nature of those conversations between Flynn and Russian operatives is at the core of multiple Congressional and federal investigations into the Trump team’s contacts with the Russian government.

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Why key Senate Republicans should be terrified as Trump drags the party down

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Incumbent Republican senators in swing states and blue states find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, criticizing President Donald Trump can result in a burdensome GOP primary battle; on the other hand, being perceived as pro-Trump can be the kiss of death in places where Trump is unpopular. And according to a report by Eli Yokley for Morning Consult’s website, things aren’t getting any better for incumbent GOP senators who are considered vulnerable in the 2020 election.

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‘It was nutso’: Devin Nunes reportedly made himself look ridiculous by obsessing over the Steele Dossier in Ukraine hearing

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While the House Intelligence Committee is spearheading impeachment with its investigation into President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, it seems Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California can’t stop obsessing about the Steele Dossier.

According to the Daily Beast, the ranking member of the committee launched into an exchange during the closed impeachment inquiry hearings about the dossier on Thursday with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal. He was a point person in Trump’s efforts to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation into the 2016 election as well as former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for favorable treatment from the White House.

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Trump was ‘yelling and screaming’: Reporter says GOP source fears Trump is ‘not in control of himself’ — and getting even worse

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CNN correspondent Jamie Gangel reported Thursday that Republicans at the contentious White House meeting the previous day featuring President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were deeply alarmed by the GOP leader’s behavior and demeanor.

Citing a Republican source, who reportedly conferred with others who attended the meeting, said they were “completely shaken” and “shell shocked” by the president.

Pelosi and fellow Democrats had tried to make that point publicly on Wednesday, saying that Trump had a “meltdown,” went on a “diatribe,” and was insulting to the House speaker. Pelosi added that she was also concerned about the president’s “health.” But at least in public, some Republicans tried to turn the tables on Pelosi, saying it was she who behaved inappropriately by walking out of the meeting. However, even these Republicans didn’t really deny that Trump was acting bullying and insulting toward the speaker.

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