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2:50 PM ET, February 15, 2017


 Top Items: 
New York Times:
Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence  —  WASHINGTON — Phone 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 …
Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign  —  Trump campaign aides communicated with Russians  — The communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved  —  (CNN)High-level advisers close …
Mike Allen / Axios:
White House staff in “survival mode ... scared to death”  —  Here's a twist that has top GOP sources buzzing:  — On Jan. 26, Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, tells the White House that national security adviser Mike Flynn — who has just been grilled by FBI agents — had …
NBC News:
Piecing Together the Russian Story Amid Flynn Fallout  —  First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter  —  Michael Flynn was interviewed by FBI about call with Russian ambassador 1:28
Jake Sherman / Politico:
Poll: Trump trails generic Democrat, but not Warren, in 2020  —  Donald Trump begins his presidency facing unprecedented polling headwinds: Roughly a quarter of voters think he is the worst president in the past century.  Forty-three percent of voters are ready to vote for a nameless Democrat in 2020 …
New York Times:
Flynn Was Brought Down by Illegal Leaks to News Media, Trump Says  —  WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out at the nation's intelligence agencies again on Wednesday, saying that his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was brought down by illegal leaks to the news media …
James Hohmann / Washington Post:
The Daily 202: It's bigger than Flynn. New Russia revelations widen Trump's credibility gap.
Josh Marshall / Talking Points Memo:
Flynn Doesn't Matter. This Is About Trump
Caitlin MacNeal / Talking Points Memo:
Corker: We Must Address WH Russia Ties So It Doesn't ‘Destabilize’ Country
Discussion: The Week
Rachael Bade / Politico:
House intel chairman dismisses call for expanded Russia probe
Discussion: Daily Kos
Aidan Quigley / Politico:
Graham: Any Trump ally working inappropriately with Russia ‘needs to pay a price’
Discussion: Political Wire, The Hill and Raw Story
Stepan Kravchenko / Bloomberg:
Russia Urges Trump to Keep Campaign Pledge to Improve Relations
Discussion: RedState
Andrew Puzder / National Review:
No to Puzder  —  Andrew Puzder was from the start an odd choice to head Donald Trump's Labor Department.  The chief of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast-food chains such as Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, Puzder has long been one of corporate America's most high-profile advocates of Gang of Eight-style …
Timothy Noah / Politico:
Exclusive: Puzder's ex-wife told Oprah he threatened ‘you will pay for this’  —  The ex-wife of President Donald Trump's labor secretary nominee told “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that he “vowed revenge” when she made public spousal abuse allegations, according to a 1990 tape reviewed by POLITICO on Tuesday night.
Manu Raju / CNN:
First on CNN: Top Senate Republicans urge White House to withdraw Puzder nomination
Discussion: Business Insider and The Week
Ed O'Keefe / Washington Post:
More trouble for Andrew Puzder, Trump's embattled nominee for secretary of labor
Dylan Byers / CNN:
Sean Spicer isn't finished  —  Washington (CNN)Sean Spicer has barely moved into his office.  —  Three weeks after the inauguration, the only things adorning the White House press secretary's shelves are a framed picture of himself at the podium, a book on Naval Special Warfare …
Brad Reed / Raw Story:
Kellyanne Conway to do fewer TV appearances after leaks allege she's been backstabbing Sean Spicer
Discussion: and Mediaite
Wall Street Journal:
Mike Flynn Is First Casualty of Turmoil in Trump Administration
Thomas E. Ricks / Foreign Policy:
Robert Harward plans a housecleaning of Trump's National Security Council staff  —  President Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward on Monday night, and was a bit surprised when Harward responded by saying he needed a couple of days to think it over.
J.D. Durkin / Mediaite:
Mika Brzezinski Firmly Says Conway Will No Longer Be Booked on Morning Joe: 'She's Not Credible Anymore'  —  Mika Brzezinski of Morning Joe revealed a tidbit that many may not know about the way Kellyanne Conway gets herself booked onto so many shows on behalf of the administration …
Paulina Firozi / The Hill:
‘Morning Joe’ host says show will no longer book Conway
Discussion: RedState, Joe.My.God. and Mediaite
Sam Kim / Bloomberg:
Kim Jong Un Consolidates Power in North Korea's Game of Thrones  —  ‘Bloodline is still the strongest claim to legitimate rule’  —  Dictator's last surviving brother not seen as a threat  —  While much remains mysterious about the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia this week …
Kanga Kong / Bloomberg:   Police Hunt Women Suspected of Poisoning Kim Jong Un's Brother
Watch | Woman arrested over death of Kim Jong-nam
Discussion: Sputnik International
Paul Farhi / Washington Post:
‘This is . . .  Nixonian’: Reporter was taped by White House in heated exchange  —  A top aide to President Trump said she has a recording of a dispute with a White House reporter, and has shared parts of it with journalists.  —  Omarosa Manigault, a communications official …
Washington Post:
Do voter identification laws suppress minority voting?  Yes.  We did the research.  —  The Justice Department just got a new boss: Jeff Sessions.  He is raising alarms in the civil rights community.  The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is concerned about his “record of hostility” …
Discussion: Right Wing Watch
Sherrilyn Ifill / Washington Post:   The president lays the groundwork for a nationwide voter intimidation program
U.S. detains Mexican immigrant in Seattle covered by Obama program  —  U.S. immigration authorities have detained a 23-year-old Mexican man who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and given a work permit during the Obama administration, according to a lawsuit challenging the detention in Seattle federal court.
Tarini Parti / BuzzFeed:
Corey Lewandowski's Potential Clients Say He's Bragging About Access To Trump's Twitter Account  —  Trump's former campaign manager, who now has a lobbying and consulting shop, has mentioned having access to Trump's Twitter account as a selling point in pitch meetings with at least …
Discussion: Raw Story and Mediaite
John Podhoretz / Commentary Magazine:
Beware Triggering the Coup Theory  —  I can't believe I'm writing this after the administration has been in office for 26 days, but here goes.  The idea that Donald Trump is now inexorably on a path to impeachment has taken almost gleeful hold in the wake of the Michael Flynn resignation among liberal elites …
Dan Lamothe / Washington Post:
Defense Secretary Mattis issues new ultimatum to NATO allies on defense spending  —  BRUSSELS — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued an ultimatum Wednesday to allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), warning that if they do not boost their defense spending to goals set by the alliance …
Maria Abi-Habib / Wall Street Journal:
U.S., Middle East Allies Explore Arab Military Coalition  —  The Trump administration is in talks with Arab allies about having them form a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter their mutual foe, Iran, according to several Middle Eastern officials.
Lukas Mikelionis / Heat Street:
Teen With Cancer Fires Back at Accusations of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ For Wearing a Turban  —  A white Brazilian teen fighting cancer, who has been accused of cultural appropriation for wearing a turban to conceal her baldness, is firing back back at her critics: “I'm so angry …
Discussion: Daily Wire and TheBlaze
Mark P. Painter /
Republican Painter: It's time to impeach Trump  —  Mark P. Painter, a lifelong Cincinnatian, served as a judge for 30 years.  —  As Charles P. Pierce said in Esquire last week, “I swear, it's like we elected the Clampetts, if the Clampetts were grifters.”  —  A president of the United States …
Discussion: Raw Story
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 More Items: 
Christopher Muther /
Trump's travel ban is causing a large drop in US tourism
Jessie Hellmann / The Hill:
Republicans make first move targeting Planned Parenthood funding
Discussion: The Federalist
Sara Murray / CNN:
The hottest invite in town: Donald Trump's supper club
Madeline Conway / Politico:
Trump says he can ‘live with’ either two-state or one-state solution for Israel
Discussion: ABC News
David Weigel / Washington Post:
Freedom Caucus ready for Obamacare replacement that expands HSAs, bans abortion funding
Michael McAuliff / The Huffington Post:
Congress Just Repealed Rules To Keep Guns From The Mentally Ill
Discussion: IJR and CBS Dallas
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Hollywood Reporter:
How ‘La La Land’ Misleads on Race, Romance and Jazz
Discussion: IndieWire and Althouse
Ted / Walid Shoebat:
Both Stephen Bannon And Ann Coulter Are Absolutely Evil, They Are Filled With The Spirit …
Discussion: Joe.My.God.
 Earlier Items: 
Deena Shanker / Bloomberg:
Americans Just Broke the Psychologists' Stress Record
Discussion: The Week
Tom Dart / The Guardian:
Arizona unveils new death penalty plan: bring your own lethal injection drugs
Paul Demko / Politico:
Aetna CEO: Obamacare markets are in a ‘death spiral’
Washington Times:
The continuing liberal meltdown
NBC News:
Harrison Ford in Incident With Passenger Plane at California Airport