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Monday, Feb 27th

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Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

Trump campaign aides in contact with Russian intelPhone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

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Ethics office: Conway committed 'clear violation' with Ivanka plug

Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Donald Trump committed a “clear violation” of ethics rules when she hawked Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on Fox & Friends last week, the federal government’s ethics watchdog said in a letter released Tuesday.

“I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway’s actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her,” Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub wrote in the letter, which is dated Feb. 13 and was posted online by Democrats on the House oversight committee.

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Mnuchin, Shulkin confirmed by Senate as treasury, VA chiefs

Cabinet confirmationsTwo of President Donald Trump's Cabinet appointees received full Senate confirmation late Monday -- one in a landslide, and the other by two votes.

The Senate narrowly confirmedSteven T. Mnuchin as the 77th U.S. treasury chief with a vote of 53-47. Vice President Mike Pence gave him the oath of office Monday night.

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Flynn, fired once by a president, now resigns to another

Flynn resignsFired by one American commander in chief for insubordination, Michael Flynn has now delivered his resignation to another.  President Donald Trump had been weighing the fate of his national security adviser, a hard-charging, feather-ruffling retired lieutenant general who just three weeks into the new administration had put himself in the center of a controversy.

Flynn resigned late Monday.

At issue was Flynn's contact with Moscow's ambassador to the United States. Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak appear to have discussed U.S. sanctions late last year, raising questions about whether he was freelancing on foreign policy while President Barack Obama was still in office and whether he misled Trump officials about the calls.

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Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail

Mike FlynnThe acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump aide pushes false story of vote fraud

Stephen MillerPresidential adviser Stephen Miller peddled discredited theories about voter fraud during a round of TV appearances Sunday that won praise from his boss but brought no new evidence to light.

Miller mischaracterized research about wrongly registered voters and spread a debunked claim that busloads of Democrats came into New Hampshire and voted improperly in the November election. His Sunday morning performance on news shows earned him a "Good job!" on Twitter from President Donald Trump, who alleged days earlier that he lost New Hampshire in November only because "thousands" of people came by bus to vote against him.

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Big Tobacco is back trying to influence elections – especially in NC

Big tobacco is backBig Tobacco intensified its political activity in 2016 – and almost all its efforts were directed at defeating a Democratic North Carolina candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Tobacco interests’ activity was its steepest in 14 years, as it spent more than $1.1 million to support Grow NC Strong, a group that attacked Deborah Ross, who ran an unsuccessful challenge against Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., according to federal election records.

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