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White House pushing back against Sec. of Defense Mattis appointment

Secretary of Defense MattisSecretary of Defense Jim Mattis wants to tap the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, as his undersecretary of defense for policy, but the Pentagon chief is running into resistance from White House officials, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

If nominated and confirmed, Patterson would hold the fourth most powerful position at the Pentagon – and would effectively be the top civilian in the Defense Department, since both Mattis and his deputy, Robert Work, were military officers.

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Pence used private AOL email as governor that was hacked

Pence used private emailVice President Mike Pence used a private AOL email account that was hacked in 2016 to conduct government business, sometimes discussing national security issues, newly released documents indicate.

As part of a Freedom of Information request by the IndyStar, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's office released 29 pages of emails from Pence's AOL account. The office declined to release an unspecified number of emails because the state government considers them confidential and too sensitive for public release.

TVNL Comment: Lock him up!  Lock him up! Uh.... that was Hillary.  Never mind.

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Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe

Sessions recuses himself with limitsAttorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday he will recuse himself from federal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” he said at a press conference.

Sessions had come under mounting bipartisan pressure to recuse himself after it was revealed late Wednesday that he spoke twice with the Russian envoy last year and failed to tell senators during his confirmation hearing.

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Kushner and Flynn Met With Russian Envoy in December, White House Says

Kuschner and FlynnMichael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.

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Sessions willing to recuse himself from Russia investigation

Jeff SessionsAttorney General Jeff Sessions said early Thursday that he would be willing to recuse himself from any investigation of Russian involvement in President Trump's campaign if it's "appropriate."

"I have said whenever it's appropriate, I will recuse myself," he told NBC News. "There's no doubt about that."

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Trump team's many, many denials of contacts with Russia

Paul ManifortPresident Trump, and his presidential campaign, have issued at least 20 denials of campaign officials' communications with and connections with Russian officials. Here's a listing of their denials beginning over the summer:
July 24, 2016

Paul Manafort, appearing on ABC’s This Week, is asked by host George Stephanopoulos whether there are any connections between the Trump campaign and Russia or its president. “No, there are not. And you know, there's no basis to it."
Aug. 5, 2016

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Sessions spoke twice with Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential campaign, Justice officials say

sessions spoke with Russians during campaignThen-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

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