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Capitol Ink | Bear Hug

Senate votes to start debating Russia sanctions measure, but may lack votes to finish it
Joint resolution seeks to block sanctions relief for three Russian companies

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has led the joint resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Eleven Senate Republicans split from the Trump administration Tuesday afternoon, backing an effort by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer to force a floor debate on sanctions on Russian firms.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had appeared at Tuesday’s Senate GOP lunch to make the case for letting sanctions relief for three sanctioned Russian companies to go forward.

Acting AG Matt Whitaker agrees to testify before House on Feb. 8
Testimony will be Whitaker’s first since he took over for Jeff Sessions in October

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8, 2019. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker have agreed for Whitaker to testify before the committee in early February, partial government shutdown or no.

The appearance is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at 9:30 a.m.

Steven Mnuchin makes case to GOP to allow easing of sanctions on Russian companies
Visited Senate Republican lunch ahead of votes on Schumer resolution

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged the Senate to ease relief on Russian companies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is making the case to Senate Republicans that they should stop an effort to block sanctions relief against three Russian companies.

But as he left Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch, Mnuchin did not seem certain about the vote count ahead of an expected Tuesday afternoon vote on a motion to proceed to a resolution disapproving of the sanctions relief proposed for En+ Group plc, UC Rusal plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

Adam Schiff hiring full-time team to investigate Trump’s Russia connections
House Intelligence Committee chairman hiring more investigators to revive House Russia probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is adding more investigative manpower to his committee staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is sinking panel resources into a robust investigative staff to revive the probe into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia with roughly seven committee staffers directing their energy full-time.

Schiff and the Democrats have made offers to six new staffers, CBS News reported, including a corruption expert and a former prosecutor. The committee is still looking to hire six more people as Schiff restructures the subcommittee and plans targeted lines of inquiry into the president and his 2016 campaign staff’s connections with Russian officials.

Schumer: no sanctions relief for Russian oligarch until Mueller finishes investigation
Senate minority leader plans to force Tuesday votes on disapproval of Trump administration plan

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer plans to force votes to stop Treasury from easing sanctions again Russian companies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer plans to force votes Tuesday on an attempt to disapprove of sanctions relief against companies associated with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said Monday that there should be no sanctions relief for the companies, despite some structural changes to the ownership, until Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller finishes his work investigating Russian election interference in the U.S.

Trump: ‘I never worked for Russia’
President rejects Lindsey Graham’s plan to reopen federal government

President Donald Trump declines to answer a final question as he departs the White House on Monday for New Orleans to address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday denied working for the Russian government after a report detailing a FBI counterintelligence probe into whether he was working for Russia and against U.S. interests.

The New York Times report stated federal investigators became concerned about Trump actions around the time and after he fired former FBI Director James Comey, including admitting publicly he did so with the Justice Department’s broader Russian election meddling investigation on his mind.

Trump’s snow day Twitter rant spills into Monday with attacks on Dems
President also mocks report of FBI probe into whether he worked for Russia

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One from the White House on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After a snowy Sunday of Twitter threats and jabs, President Donald Trump on Monday morning fired off more posts blaming Democrats for the now-record partial government shutdown and mocking a report the FBI opened an investigation over concerns he was working for Russia.

During a mid-December Oval Office meeting that devolved into a bickering match, the president told Democratic leaders he would “take the mantle” of any partial shutdown. With nine Cabinet agencies and other offices now shuttered for more than three weeks, Trump on Monday wrote that “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Lindsey Graham: Trump attorney general pick will let Mueller finish Russia probe
William P. Barr makes the rounds meeting with key senators on Wednesday

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, met with incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is confident President Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general is committed to letting the special counsel probe led by Robert S. Mueller III run its course.

William P. Barr, who previously served as attorney general during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, made the rounds Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where his meetings included visits to the outgoing and incoming chairmen of the Judiciary Committee.

Mueller protection bill reintroduced in the Senate, but still no prospects for floor time
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued the bill is unconstitutional

Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., left, and Chris Coons, D-Del., are among the leaders of the legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The senators pushing legislation Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III from any risk of improper termination by President Donald Trump are not giving up.

Their bipartisan legislation expired at the end of the last Congress, and they announced Tuesday that they were introducing it again, despite continued opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.