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Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Turn in the Spotlight

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to face questions before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon, where he will be pressed on the Russia investigation, his own meetings with Russian officials, and the events leading up to the firing of FBI Director James Comey. But Sessions is not expected to speak to his private conversations with Trump about the latter event, citing executive privilege. It’s the latest high-profile testimony that is set to dominate cable news and the political discussion—and thereby distract from Trump’s focus for the week: workforce development. Trump is traveling to Milwaukee to try to push the issue Tuesday afternoon and to hold a fundraiser for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Trump allies are openly talking about the possibility of firing special counsel Robert Mueller, with Trump friend and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy doing the rounds of cable television to promote the idea, which is also backed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Ruddy did not discuss the issue with the president when he was at the White House Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, not denying that it has been the subject of consideration. Such an action would be hugely inflammatory, and would put congressional Republicans in an impossible situation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tried to shoot down the trial balloon Tuesday in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I think he should let Bob Mueller do his job, do his job independently,” he said. White House aides say Trump is exceedingly unlikely to take the step, even as Trump allies work to discredit the widely-respected former FBI chief.

Trump set to act on Cuba. The #1 threat facing the U.S. And Trump’s tweets come back to bite him.

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Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, has bragged he was behind the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara [ProPublica]

Trump Weighing New Limits on Cuba Travel and Military Sanctions
Announcement could come Friday [Bloomberg]

Secret Service Has No Audio or Transcripts of Any Tapes Made in Trump White House
Agency’s response to FOIA request doesn’t exclude possibility of recordings created by other entity [Wall Street Journal]

Pentagon Chief Declares North Korea the New Top Threat to U.S. Security
Move over Russia [Washington Post]

Senate GOP Reins in Expectations for Killing Obamacare
Some Republican lawmakers are growing worried about their tight time frame for overhauling health care [Politico]

Sound Off

“I think the best think to do is to let Robert Mueller do his job” — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to reporters Tuesday

“No I have not.” — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on whether he has seen any evidence to justify the firing of Robert Mueller

Bits and Bites

Jeff Sessions Braces for Sharp Questions During Public Testimony to Senate Panel [Associated Press]

Chris Ruddy: President Trump Is Considering Firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller [TIME]

Special counsel team members donated to Dems, FEC records show [CNN]

Trump cuts would make troops ‘less safe,’ top retired generals say [Yahoo]

Senators strike comprehensive deal to increase Russia sanctions [Washington Post]

Russian Breach of 39 States Threatens Future U.S. Elections [Bloomberg]

Trump transition aide was key player in Flynn’s Turkish work [Associated Press]

‘Agenda of Hate’: President Trump Goes After Courts, Media in New Tweets [TIME]

Fact Check: The trophies in Trump’s display Cabinet [Associated Press]

Chuck Schumer Had His Own Version of President Trump’s Flattery-Filled Cabinet Meeting [TIME]

Congressman-Elect Greg Gianforte Avoids Jail Time After Pleading Guilty to ‘Body Slamming’ Reporter [Associated Press]

A Judge Just Cited a Trump Tweet When Ruling Against Him. Again. [TIME]

John McCain Says U.S. Global Leadership Was Better Under Obama Than Trump [TIME]

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