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May 9, 2014
US House of Representatives

On Thursday evening, the House voted to open a new investigation on the "events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi." Seven Democrats voted with 225 Republicans in favor of launching the select committee, while 186 Democrats voted against it. The committee will be helmed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former prosecutor. This will be the eighth investigation into the Benghazi attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three U.S. security personnel.

Democrats are trying to decide if they will participate in what most of them consider political theater, and if so, how much. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) is suggesting that her caucus appoint just one Democrat to the panel, The Huffington Post reports, allowing a symbolic boycott of the proceedings while maintaining "Democratic access to committee proceedings and material," letting the lone Democrat "question witnesses, monitor the House Majority's activities and provide a powerful voice to raise issues and make appropriate public comments." Peter Weber

12:17 a.m. ET

In a 45-minute Oval Office interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, President Trump said he hopes to tackle tax reform after health care, however that turns out, and then infrastructure; said he expects to declare Iran noncompliant with the nuclear deal in September, even if his advisers object; took aim again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions; and named his economic adviser Gary Cohn as a candidate for Federal Reserve chairman next year.

"He doesn't know this, but yes, he is," Trump said of Cohn, who was sitting in on the interview along with Ivanka Trump, White House Chief of Staff Renice Priebus, strategic communications director Hope Hicks, and new communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is also "in the running to stay," he added. Trump said that Scaramucci would help quash the infighting and melodrama in the West Wing, which he characterized, apparently jokingly, as "White House stuff, where they're fighting over who loves me the most."

On tax reform, Trump said his priority is to focus on lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and helping "the middle-income people in this country, who have gotten screwed." If any taxes are raised, "it's going to be on high-income people," he said, though, the Journal notes, Trump and his team have been "vague on significant middle-class provisions" in the tax overhaul, "while promising specific benefits for high-income households such as the repeal of the estate tax and alternative minimum tax."

Trump has been increasingly critical of Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia election-meddling and collusion investigation, and he argued to the Journal that this recusal was the reason Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. He declined to say if he planned to fire Mueller, which would be very controversial and which he cannot do directly, telling the Journal: "I have no comment yet, because it's too early. But we'll see. We're going to see." He also did not express much confidence in Sessions, saying that the former senator's early endorsement of him was because Trump was popular in Sessions' home state, Alabama, "so it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement."

Below, Associated Press White House reporter Jonathan Lemire recaps Trump's mounting public and private abuse of Sessions, reminds why it is so unusual, and runs down what Trump may do next, assuming Sessions refuses to step down voluntarily. Peter Weber

12:09 a.m. ET
Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

What he thought was a productive conversation with Ukraine's prime minister was actually the latest embarrassment for Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Earlier this month, Perry, a former governor of Texas, spent 22 minutes chatting with a person he believed was the prime minister, sharing that the Trump administration is against a Russian project to bring natural gas to Europe across the Baltic and hinting that the Commerce Department was trying to figure out ways to bring more coal to Ukraine. It turns out Perry was really speaking to Russian pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov, who have been called the "Jerky Boys of Russia," Reuters reports.

Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told Reuters the jokesters are "known for pranking high-level officials and celebrities, particularly those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine." Krasnov and Stolyarov, who once fooled Elton John into thinking he was conversing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, recorded their phone call with Perry, and posted it online. Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2017
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday night rejected a modified version of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Nine Republicans joined the Democrats in voting against the bill, and with a final total of 43 in favor and 57 against, the measure did not receive the 60 votes necessary to pass. Earlier in the day, the Senate split 50-50 on voting to begin debate on a health-care bill, and Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie, with the motion passing.

On Wednesday, the Senate is set to vote on an amendment similar to a 2015 bill passed by the Senate to repeal ObamaCare, which was ultimately vetoed by former President Barack Obama; this proposal is expected to fail. Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2017
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump's daily reminders to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is a disappointment aren't enough to get Sessions to step down from his position, The Washington Post reports.

Trump has been slamming Sessions in interviews — like telling The New York Times if he had known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he never would have picked him to be attorney general — and on Twitter, and even told reporters on Tuesday "time will tell" whether he fires Sessions. Despite Trump's digs, Sessions' chief of staff, Jody Hunt, told Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff, that the attorney general has no intention of resigning, and in fact, "plans to move forward with his agenda in the department," one person familiar with the exchange told the Post.

Priebus did not say that Trump is set on firing Session if he doesn't leave on his own, the person said, but the Post notes Trump could be holding back because he hasn't settled on a possible replacement (if Trump fired Sessions without having a temporary replacement waiting in the wings, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would move into the position). There's still hope that Trump and Sessions will sit down and talk things through — one Republican told the Post that's what new communications director Anthony Scaramucci would like to see — but Trump hasn't warmed to the idea. Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2017

It's "real easy" to act presidential, President Trump told a crowd in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday, but not when you want to get things done.

When people say Trump doesn't act presidential, he responds by declaring he went to "great schools" and is a "smart guy," and while it's "so easy" to act magnanimously, "that's not gonna get it done," he told supporters. "It's much easier, by the way, to act presidential than what we're doing here tonight." With the exception of "the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office, that I can tell you," he added.

To get things done, you have to "move a little faster," Trump said, and that's hard to do when you're acting presidential. Trump vowed to "never be beholden to the lobbyists or the special interests" and said he wants to "protect America, and I want to protect the citizens of America. Your hopes are my hopes, your dreams are my dreams." He touted his prowess as a businessman, saying he had a "great, successful career," but "this is the only thing that matters." Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2017
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the House voted 419 to 3 to pass a bill that strengthens sanctions against Russia in response to its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The sanctions primarily target Russian oil and gas projects with companies based in the United States and a handful of other countries, and they will be difficult for President Trump to lift because he will need approval from Congress. The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote, and could be sent to Trump to sign into law before August, when Congress begins its recess.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the sanctions would be "harmful" to U.S.-Russian relations. The package also includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea, due to their weapons programs. Catherine Garcia

July 25, 2017
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee has dropped its subpoena for Paul Manafort, President Trump's onetime campaign chairman, to publicly testify Wednesday during a hearing on Russian meddling in the election because he has agreed to meet with committee investigators, a person with knowledge of the situation told Politico Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the committee's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), confirmed that a subpoena had been issued for Manafort after they had been "unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary, transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee."

Both Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, met with the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday in a closed-door session that lasted several hours, detailing the meeting they attended in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked attorney. Catherine Garcia

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