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2:00 PM ET, February 20, 2019


 Top Items: 
Margaret Sullivan / Washington Post:
CNN's hiring of a GOP operative as political editor is even worse than it looks  —  A few months before the 2016 presidential election, Sarah Isgur tweeted some advice to Donald Trump: “The only 3 words that should be coming out of Donald Trump's mouth this week are: ‘Clinton’ ‘foundation’ ‘emails’”
Maxwell Tani / The Daily Beast:
CNN Staffers ‘Demoralized’ by Hiring of GOP Operative Sarah Isgur to Edit 2020 Coverage
Maxwell Tani / The Daily Beast:
CNN Defends Hiring Former GOP Operative Sarah Isgur as Political Editor
Jon Schwarz / The Intercept:   CNN Hires Trump Official Who Used Same Anti-Press Rhetoric as Man Who Sent Bombs to CNN
Justice Department preparing for Mueller report as early as next week  —  Washington (CNN)Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary …
NBC News:
Ethically challenged: Three scandals rock Trump administration in one day  —  First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.  —  WASHINGTON — It's hard to keep up with all of the alleged scandals hitting the Trump administration.
Philip Bump / Washington Post:
The Democrats attracting the most attention on Fox News? Warren, Harris — and Ocasio-Cortez.
Discussion: Axios
Tal Axelrod / The Hill:   Sanders campaign reports raising $4M in less than a day
Holly Otterbein / Politico:
Bernie crushes 2020 Democratic field in first-day money chase
Washington Post:
Supreme Court, in unanimous ruling, moves to limit state and local governments' power to impose fines and seize property  —  The court on Wednesday ruled in favor of Tyson Timbs of Marion, Ind., whose $42,000 Land Rover SUV was seized after his arrest for selling a couple hundred dollars' worth of heroin.
Robert Barnes / Washington Post:
Supreme Court says constitutional protection against excessive fines applies to state actions  —  The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Constitution's prohibition on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, limiting their abilities to impose fines and seize property.
Discussion: Vox, Mother Jones, ABC News and Axios
Washington Post:
White House readies panel to assess if climate change poses a national security threat  —  The White House is working to assemble a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, a conclusion that federal intelligence agencies …
Luke Thompson:
The Congresswoman Loves the Swamp  —  Her Wealthy Chief of Staff used a PAC to Pay Her Boyfriend  —  Luke ThompsonBlockedUnblockFollowFollowing  —  Last Friday, my mentions died for your sins.  I posted a screen grab of Riley Roberts's House Microsoft Outlook card, including his official house …
Mathew Rodriguez / Out Magazine:
Trump's Plan to Decriminalize Homosexuality Is an Old Racist Tactic … The Trump administration is set to launch a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in dozens of nations where anti-gay laws are still on the books, NBC News reported Monday.  While on its surface …
Steven Shepard / Politico:
Virginia voters — including African-Americans — get Northam's back  —  Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appears to have quelled any widespread public clamor for his resignation in the wake of his blackface scandal.  —  Two new polls out Wednesday show pluralities say the Democrat should not quit …
Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball:
New Virginia poll: Northam approval weak, but Virginians not demanding his resignation
Discussion: IJR
Josh Rogin / Washington Post:
Inside Patrick Shanahan's clash with Congress in Munich over Syria  —  In a private meeting in Munich with more than a dozen lawmakers, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan got an earful about President Trump's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria by the end of April.
Jonathan Swan / Axios:
The White House plan to exploit Andrew McCabe's new book  —  White House officials and sources close to President Trump are treating Andrew McCabe's book as an opportunity.  —  What's happening: These people plan to keep promoting bits from “The Threat,” which has rocketed past Michelle Obama's …
Quin Hillyer / Washington Examiner:
McCabe's depiction of Jeff Sessions is pathetically unbelievable  —  Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is having his moment in the sun, trying to sell a book making explosive allegations — but he undermines the believability of any of it by his outlandishly embittered descriptions of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Discussion: BlueDot Daily and CNN
Timothy L. O'Brien / Bloomberg:
Trump, McCabe and the Justice Department Go to War
Discussion: Salon, Hullabaloo and POLITICUSUSA
Paul Farhi / Washington Post:
The Washington Post sued by family of Covington Catholic teenager  —  The family of the Kentucky teen who was involved in an encounter with a Native American advocate at the Lincoln Memorial last month filed a defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post on Tuesday, seeking $250 million in damages for its coverage of the incident.
John Solomon / The Hill:
The family secret Bruce Ohr told Rod Rosenstein about Russia case  —  Who would have thought that, this deep into the Russia collusion probe, we'd be learning about yet another dossier connected to Hillary Clinton?  And, as it turns out, it was sort of a family secret.
Discussion: The Gateway Pundit
Jennifer Rubin / Washington Post:
Graham sums up how stupid the GOP has become  —  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a number of ways epitomizes the Republican Party's descent into intellectual rot and immoral opportunism.  Graham as a candidate called out President Trump as a bigot and “the most flawed nominee in the history of the Republican Party.”
Discussion: Raw Story
Evan Halper / Los Angeles Times:
Your phone and TV are tracking you, and political campaigns are listening in … It was a crowded primary field and Tony Evers, running for governor, was eager to win the support of officials gathered at a Wisconsin state Democratic party meeting, so the candidate did all the usual things: he read the room, he shook hands, he networked.
John McWhorter / The Atlantic:
What the Jussie Smollett Story Reveals  —  I was one of many people who found Jussie Smollett's story a little off from the beginning.  Two white men in ski masks are out in 10-degree weather in the middle of the night, equipped with a bottle of bleach or something like it and a rope that they fashioned into a mock noose.
Discussion: Althouse, CNN and The Week
Deutsche Bank Weighed Extending Trump Loans on Default Risk  — Bank is said to have been concerned about default in office  — Executives considered extending maturities to address risk  —  Top Deutsche Bank AG executives were so concerned after the 2016 U.S. election …
Chuck Ross / The Daily Caller:
FBI Used Confidential Sources Who ‘Already Had’ Trump Campaign Contacts, Bureau Lawyer Told Congress  — An FBI official testified to Congress in August that the bureau relied on confidential sources in addition to Christopher Steele who had pre-established contact with the Trump campaign as part of “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Jeff Carlson /   EXCLUSIVE: Testimony by FBI Lawyer Trisha Anderson Reveals Extensive Role in Trump, Clinton Investigations
Josh Kovensky / Talking Points Memo:
Concord Cites Dostoevsky, Visa Wait In Latest Broadside Against Mueller  —  The company accused of funding Russia's election meddling in the 2016 cycle on Wednesday offered its version of how thousands of discovery materials from the case wound up on an alleged Russian disinformation website.
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
Trump's New Defense: Congress Can't Investigate Because There Are Too Many Crimes  —  President Trump spent the weekend decrying the “coup” against him, demanding the imprisonment of federal investigators, and calling for retribution against those who mock him.  Below the surface, though, a more serious argument is taking shape.
Discussion: Hullabaloo
The New York Times Company:
Carol Rosenberg Joins The Times  —  Carol Rosenberg, the foremost reporter on the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, will cover the detention camp and other important national security stories.  Read more in this note from Dean Baquet and Elisabeth Bumiller.
Katie Anderson / Campus Reform:
EXCLUSIVE: Calif. college calls the POLICE...over a cartoon frog  —  Folsom Lake College notified the local police after finding a poster of a cartoon frog, stating that “hate has no home on our campus.”  —  An FLC faculty member found the sheet featuring Pepe the frog on their office door earlier in February.
Discussion: Breitbart
Isaac Chotiner / New Yorker:
Max Boot Defends Elliott Abrams's Account of U.S. Policy in El Salvador  —  Last Wednesday, the Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar aggressively questioned Elliott Abrams, the Trump Administration's envoy for Venezuela, about Abrams's previous government service.
David Horovitz / The Times of Israel:
Netanyahu's despicable push to bring racists into Israel's political mainstream  —  The PM is pressing the religious Zionist Jewish Home party to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit.  It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel's?  —  David Horovitz
Discussion: KBZK
James Hohmann / Washington Post:
The Daily 202: Barack Obama criticizes pop culture for promoting the wrong values to young men  —  THE BIG IDEA: Barack Obama pleaded with a crowd of teenagers on Tuesday night to defy stereotypes about what it means to be a man of color.  —  “We live in a culture where our worth is measured …
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 More Items: 
Tony Maglio / The Wrap:
50 Cent Says Trump Offered Him $500,000 ‘Just to Come’ to the Inauguration (Video)
Dan Cancian / Newsweek:
Barack Obama: 'If You're Confident About Your Sexuality, You Don't Need Eight Women Around You Twerking'
Douglas Perry / Oregonian:
Oregon lawmakers seek to lower voting age in state to 16, so teens can ‘protect their future’
Mattie Kahn / Glamour:
Rep. Elise Stefanik Launches PAC to Elect More Republican Women to the House of Representatives
Alabama woman who joined ISIS is begging to come home
Associated Press:
Trump chooses Jeffrey Rosen for deputy attorney general
 Earlier Items: 
Thomas L. Friedman / New York Times:
Is America Becoming a Four-Party State?
Discussion: Lawyers, Guns & Money
Ted Mann / Wall Street Journal:
Amtrak Plan to Expand Ridership Could Sidetrack Storied Trains
Eric Talmadge / Associated Press:
Possible peace declaration looms large over Trump-Kim summit
Discussion: Reuters and The Daily Caller
Liz Mair / New York Times:
Has Republican Resistance to Trump Collapsed?
Discussion: Front Page Magazine
New York Post:
Reihan Salam poised to bring Manhattan Institute to new highs