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2:35 PM ET, April 15, 2021

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 Top Items: 
The Daily Beast:
U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops  —  It was a huge election-time story that prompted cries of treason.  But according to a newly disclosed assessment, Donald Trump might have been right to call it a “hoax.”  —  It was a blockbuster story about Russia's return …
RELATED:
U.S. Department of the Treasury:
Treasury Escalates Sanctions Against the Russian Government's Attempts to Influence U.S. Elections  —  WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took sweeping action against 16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence …
Philip Bump / Washington Post:
The government finally connects the line from Trump's campaign to Russian intelligence  —  So much for the ‘Russia hoax’ hoax  —  From the first moments that the report on Russian interference in the 2016 election compiled by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's team became public two years ago …
Discussion: Politico
Justin Hendrix / Just Security:
US Treasury Provides Missing Link: Manafort's Partner Gave Campaign Polling Data to Kremlin in 2016  —  The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate and ex-employee of Paul Manafort, “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information …
Discussion: Political Wire
Zachary Basu / Axios:
U.S. says Manafort associate passed sensitive polling data to Russian intelligence  —  The U.S. government has sanctioned Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian political consultant indicted in the Mueller investigation in 2018, for carrying out election influence operations on behalf of Russian intelligence services.
Discussion: Raw Story
The White House:
FACT SHEET: Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian Government
The Intellectualist:
Analysis: Latest Russian Sanctions Report Confirms Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia
Discussion: Townhall
Josh Kovensky / Talking Points Memo:
New Sanctions On Manafort Deputy Suggest Deeper Role Of Russian Intel In 2016
Discussion: Election Law Blog
Joseph Choi / The Hill:
Pelosi says she won't bring bill to expand Supreme Court to the floor  —  Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she has “no plans” to bring a Democratic-led bill to expand the Supreme Court to the House floor for a vote, while saying such an idea is “not out of the question.”
RELATED:
Sahil Kapur / NBC News:
Democrats to introduce bill to expand Supreme Court from 9 to 13 justices
Robert Barnes / Washington Post:
Biden administration asks Supreme Court not to hear challenge to all-male military draft
Kathy Frankovic / YouGov:
Decision to pause Johnson & Johnson vaccine causes public confidence in vaccine to sink  —  Economist/YouGov Poll Politics & current affairs  —  Fieldwork for the latest Economist/YouGov poll on vaccine safety perceptions was in the midst of being conducted when the Centers for Disease Control …
RELATED:
Jennifer Rubin / Washington Post:
The media knows much less than it thinks
The Cook Political Report:
Introducing the 2021 Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index  —  The Cook Political Report is pleased to introduce the post-2020 edition of the Partisan Voter Index (PVI) for all 50 states and 435 congressional districts.  Although these district boundaries won't be in place …
Berkeley Lovelace Jr / CNBC:
Pfizer CEO says third Covid vaccine dose likely needed within 12 months  — Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated.  — He also said it's possible people will need to get vaccinated against the virus annually.
Scott Wong / The Hill:
McCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election  —  President Biden has phoned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and hosted top GOP House and Senate committee leaders and rank-and-file Republicans at the White House.  —  But there's one key Republican Biden hasn't reached …
RELATED:
Quint Forgey / Politico:   McCarthy: I've met with Gaetz, he professed innocence
Jeremy Barr / Washington Post:
Tucker Carlson villainizes journalists on his top-rated show.  Then the threats pour in.  —  As the Fox host's popularity grows, he has found fodder in lesser-known media figures whom he presents as symbols of liberalism-run-amok.  —  Brandy Zadrozny, a reporter for NBC News who covers online extremism …
Discussion: Twitchy
RELATED:
Robbie Whelan / Wall Street Journal:
CDC Identifies Small Group of Covid-19 Infections Among Fully Vaccinated Patients  —  Incidence is rare, occurring in only 0.008% of cases and in line with expectations  —  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a small cohort of approximately 5,800 cases …
Susan B. Glasser / New Yorker:
Biden Finally Got to Say No to the Generals  —  Critics be damned, the President is ending the Forever War waged by Bush, Obama, and Trump in Afghanistan.  —  On Wednesday, Joe Biden announced the close of the two-decade-long American war in Afghanistan, giving the U.S. military a deadline …
RELATED:
Associated Press:
Secretary of State Blinken visits Afghanistan in surprise trip after Biden troop announcement
Jeffrey M. Jones / Gallup:
Biden Sparks Greater Party, Education Gaps Than Predecessors  —  WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden's job approval ratings during his first two full months in office show greater divisions by party and educational attainment than those of his recent predecessors.
RELATED:
Steve Liesman / CNBC:
CNBC survey shows support for infrastructure spending much less than previous stimulus
Discussion: Insider
Dan Primack / Axios:
J.D. Vance tells associates he plans to run for Senate in Ohio  —  J.D. Vance, venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” has told friends and colleagues that he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Axios has learned from multiple sources.
Discussion: VICE, Insider, TheBlaze and The Daily Caller
Hamish McKenzie / Substack Blog:
Introducing Substack Local, for a new generation of local news  —  Today, we're announcing Substack Local, a US$1,000,000 initiative to foster and develop the local news ecosystem by helping independent writers build local news publications based on the subscription model.
Steve Hayes / The Dispatch:
'We Just Can't Do This Anymore'  —  Business owners who want to hire workers are finding it impossible to compete with the pandemic relief packages' enhanced unemployment payments.  —  4 hr ago  —  WATERVILLE, Ohio—On a typical pre-pandemic Monday morning, Dale's Diner would be buzzing.
Susan Page / Politico:
Inside Nancy Pelosi's War With AOC and the Squad  —  Adapted from Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power, to be published by Twelve Books on April 20.  —  “Nancy doesn't have much patience for people who don't know what they don't know.”  —  That was what a senior congressional …
Washington Post:
17 requests for backup in 78 minutes  —  A reconstruction shows how failures of planning and preparation left police at the Capitol severely disadvantaged on Jan. 6  —  At 1:13 p.m. on Jan. 6, a D.C. police commander facing a swelling crowd of protesters on the west side of the U.S. Capitol …
Discussion: Raw Story and The Intellectualist
Politico:
GOP uses threats hearing to air political, personal grievances  —  Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee used the panel's first public hearing in five years on the United States' most dire global threats to air a range of domestic grievances to intelligence and law enforcement leaders Thursday …
Philip Wegmann / Real Clear Politics:
Christie to GOP Study Group: Call Biden Out as ‘a Liar’  —  Republicans are bloodied and beaten, and maybe just a little too bashful for their own good.  At least, so says Chris Christie.  —  Knocked back on their heels and forced to answer for every outrageous thing Donald Trump did …
Washington Free Beacon:
Kristen Clarke, Bigot and Liar  —  Having sworn to answer all questions truthfully, in an appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division offered a series of answers that strained credulity and veered into outright falsehood.
Robin Bravender / Insider:
We spoke with 21 of Matt Gaetz's high-school classmates.  Some say they could have predicted the congressman's sex scandal.  — Some of Matt Gaetz's former classmates spoke exclusively with Insider about his high school days.  — Gaetz, now 38, had a reputation as a know-it-all who talked over his classmates and teachers.
Discussion: HotAir, Raw Story and HillReporter.com
U.S. Department of Justice:
Maine Man Charged with Hate Crime Offenses for Arson of Predominantly Black Church  —  A Maine man was charged today in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, in connection with setting the Dec. 28, 2020, fire that destroyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield.
Discussion: CBS Boston and WHDH-TV
Kurt Schlichter / Townhall:
The Coming Backlash  —  So, a criminal with a warrant who resists arrest meets up with an incompetent government employee who can't tell a Glock from a taser, then there are Democrat riots, and what's the result?  You must be disarmed.  —  If you're looking for logical logic, keep on looking.
 
 
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 More Items: 
Geoffrey Skelley / FiveThirtyEight:
Few Americans Who Identify As Independent Are Actually Independent. That's Really Bad For Politics.
Discussion: New York Magazine
Brian Flood / Fox News:
CBS News' mysterious ‘retired newsman’ support adds to chaos surrounding ‘60 Minutes’ report on DeSantis
Maria Benevento / St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Missouri Republican lawmakers push ahead with bills to add voting restrictions
Discussion: Democracy Docket
Jordan Green / Raw Story:
Leaked chats reveal ‘National Guardsman’ and White Lives Matter organizer is forming new fascist group that wants a race war
 Earlier Items: 
madison.com:
3 teachers resign after investigation into slavery lesson at Sun Prairie middle school
Josh Feldman / Mediaite:
‘YOU SON OF A B*TCH!’ Geraldo Rivera, Dan Bongino Get in Shouting Match Over Police, Protests
Kimmy Yam / NBC News:
Macaulay Culkin's past comments and how white parents might ‘other’ their multiracial children
Sarah Chaney Cambon / Wall Street Journal:
Jobless Claims Fell to a New Pandemic Low Last Week
Discussion: The Daily Caller and The Week
Russell Berman / The Atlantic:
The Blue States That Make It Hardest to Vote
Discussion: Alternet.org
Holly Otterbein / Politico:
Pennsylvania GOP launches ‘super MAGA Trump’ primary
Discussion: Political Wire
The Daily Beast:
Matt Gaetz's Wingman Paid Dozens of Young Women—and a 17-Year-Old