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DOJ officials fuming after Trump’s acting attorney general violates his department’s own shutdown guidelines

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Justice Department officials are furious after President Donald Trump’s acting Attorney General violated the department’s shutdown guidelines.

According to ABC News, Matthew Whitaker gave a political speech at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, which flies in the face of his own rules.

“I think it’s deeply hypocritical,” ABC quoted an anonymous federal prosecutor.

U.S. prosecutors around the country got a message saying that anyone deemed “excepted” was required to work during the shutdown and that they wouldn’t be getting a paycheck. They were only allowed to perform work on things that are related to threats against life or property. Anything like “ancillary functions” such as “public affairs activities and community outreach … may be conducted only to the extent the failure to perform those functions prevents or significantly damages” department operations, the memo read.

Last week, top DOJ officials sent an email to all of the offices in the U.S. explaining “what employees deemed excepted and working in the office may do.”

“We have been directed to continue only activities that relate to ’emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,’ i.e., where there is a reasonable likelihood that the safety of human life or the protection of property would be compromised to some significant degree by delay in the performance of the function in question,” said the email. “The risk should be real, not hypothetical or speculative.”

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Whitaker’s speech dealt with the 25th anniversary of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that some claim helped “protect” worshipers’ rights.

Whitaker’s speech praised Trump as a president “who is standing up for the First Amendment.” “Others,” he said, have “tried to stand in the way.” Ironically, the First Amendment gives freedom of the press as well as religion.

“For example,” Whitaker told the crowd, “we’ve seen nuns ordered to pay for contraceptives,” and a senator, he said, tried to block “an evangelical Christian” from joining the Trump administration.

Read the full report from ABC.

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‘This is ridiculous’: ex-prosecutor rips Democrats for not even swearing-in Hope Hicks before her testimony

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The House Judiciary Committee failed in how they went about interviewing Hope Hicks, the longtime Trump advisor who rose to White House communications director.

On Thursday, the committee released a 273-page transcript of Hicks testimony behind closed doors.

For analysis, MSNBC "Hardball" anchor Chris Matthews interviewed former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne.

Lawyers representing Hicks repeatedly objected to her answer questions.

"What is this thing, this word objection? This is loaded, all this wasted paper, a lot of this paper simply has the word objection on it," Matthews said, holding up a 271-page printout of Hicks' transcript.

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Hope Hicks told Congress that Trump has cut her out of his life — he virtually never calls her anymore

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Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was broadly considered to be one of President Donald Trump's favorite staffers.

But when she left the administration in 2018, the president virtually cut off ties to her, and has only spoken with her five times since then, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday:

In her interview, Hope Hicks says she has only spoken to Trump between five and ten times since she left the White House in February 2018. (He used to call that much in a day.) They last spoke in April, when they had dinner. Our story from yesterday:https://t.co/3gzVY21c3z pic.twitter.com/VMZqhnbgib

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Elections regulator warns foreign intrusion into US campaigns is already happening

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In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Federal Elections Commission is warning that there is already foreign intrusion in the U.S. campaigns.

FEC chair Ellen L. Weintraub was forced to issue a statement after President Donald Trump said that he wasn't sure what he would do if a foreign government approached him with "dirt" on his political opponent. He said that he "might" tell the FBI but would likely hear what they had to say. He said that it wasn't illegal, but Weintraub issued a statement reiterating that it is illegal.

"I am particularly concerned about the risk of illicit funds and foreign support influencing our political system. Foreign dark money represents a significant vulnerability for American democracy. We do not know the extent to which our political campaigns receive foreign dark money, but we do know that the political money can be weaponized by well-funded hostile powers," the letter warned.

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