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Analysis: Giuliani Escalates Effort to Erode Legitimacy of Mueller Probe
Trump lawyer attacks Sessions, Comey and casts president as victim of ‘crimes’

Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani prepares to speak at the Conference on Iran earlier this month shortly after being added to President Donald Trump’s legal team. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey is a “proven liar” and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “didn’t step up” to shut down an “unjustifiable investigation.” Those were just two of the claims made Friday by Rudy Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, as he continued an escalating effort to erode the legitimacy of the Justice Department’s Russia probe.

As Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team continue their probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, possible coordination with the Trump-Pence campaign, and whether the president obstructed justice, Giuliani — joined by Trump and others — are executing a strategy intended to raise doubts about the necessity of the investigation, whether Mueller and the FBI are out to get Trump, and the special counsel’s tactics.

Former NATO, DHS Officials Launch Election Interference Commission
Independent group aims to stop Russian and other meddlers in future elections

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testifies during the Senate Judiciary hearing on immigration. Chertoff is co-chairing a commission to prevent election interference. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The United States, NATO and the European Union launched a commission to prevent election interference Friday.

Former NATO chief and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff announced the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity in Washington at a press conference.

Opinion: The Special Counsel Probe Is Tainted
Rod Rosenstein must act to restrict an investigation gone rogue

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should immediately restrict the actions of the special counsel to issues involving the 2016 election, as originally required, Smith writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s time for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to be restrained. The process is tainted, which should limit, if not end, the investigation.

There is a legal term called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” If the evidence, or tree, is tainted, then anything gained from the evidence — the fruit — is tainted as well.

Capitol Ink | Follow The Money

If Not Gina Haspel, Then Who?
Opposition to career officer comes with risk of less palatable alternative

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel has her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

If not Gina Haspel, then who would be behind door No. 2?

Senate Democrats have concerns about Haspel, the CIA director nominee, ahead of her Wednesday confirmation hearing before the Intelligence Committee, but they might want to consider the potential alternatives.

Capitol Ink | Walkover

Facebook Hires Ex-GOP Senator To Advise On Anti-Conservative Bias
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have quarreled over existence of such bias

Former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is partnering with Facebook to advise on issues over potential anti-conservative bias. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Facebook has brought in a high-profile Washington insider to advise the company on concerns over whether its employees and content-filtering algorithms have an anti-conservative tilt.

Former Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl — now with Capitol Hill lobbying stalwart Covington and Burling — is partnering with the tech giant as lawmakers hammer it for a lack of transparency, not doing enough to combat fake news ahead of the 2016 election, and — if you ask many Republicans — having a built-in bias in its codes and personnel that shuts out conservative voices.

Analysis: 3 Contradictions From Trump Team on Stormy Daniels Payment
What did the president know? When did he know it?

A sign at Little Darlings Las Vegas advertises an upcoming performance at the strip club by adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels on Jan. 25. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and one of his new attorneys admit he reimbursed his longtime fixer for a payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, a striking reversal from what the president said just a few weeks ago. But team Trump’s attempts to clear up the matter is full of contradictions.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now one of the lead attorneys on Trump’s personal legal team, told Fox News on Wednesday night the president repaid fixer and attorney Michael Cohen for $130,000 he transmitted to Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) in return for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter when Trump was a reality show star.

Ty Cobb to Leave White House Post Overseeing Mueller Response
Lawyer’s departure signals Trump may be seeking a more aggressive strategy

President Donald Trump walks from the Oval Office to Marine One as he departs for Mar-a-Lago on March 23. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 2:46 p.m. | Ty Cobb, the lawyer President Donald Trump brought in to lead the White House’s response to the Justice Department’s Russia probe, is retiring. His departure marks the latest in a string as the president shakes up his legal battalion.

“For several weeks Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff [John F.] Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. She later confirmed he will be replaced by  Clinton impeachment lawyer and George W. Bush White House veteran Emmet Flood.

Paul Ryan Backing Rosenstein, Despite Conservatives’ Impeachment Threat
House hard-liners threaten deputy AG while some GOP senators move to protect Russia inquiry

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies before a House Judiciary hearing on the Russia investigation on Dec. 13. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan split from more conservative elements of his conference by continuing to back Rod Rosenstein, even though some of President Donald Trump’s allies in the House have begun drafting articles of impeachment for the deputy attorney general.

The speaker’s position has not changed since January, a spokeswoman said responding to further murmurs of impeachment. Earlier this year, Ryan said Rosenstein is “doing a fine job” and there is “no reason” for Trump to fire him.