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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may be gone, but the Russian cloud enveloping the White House isn’t dissipating one bit. As the New York Times reports today in its lead story:
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election…
…The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.
As the Washington Post writes this morning:
The credibility gap – maybe chasm is a better word at this point – keeps widening for Donald Trump and his White House.
And what does President Trump have to say about all of this? As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:
Trump’s response to these serious allegations, which have already cost him his national security adviser and now threaten the foundations of his presidency, has been decidedly flippant. In a tweetstorm Wednesday morning, Trump blamed the “fake news” media and Hillary Clinton for the stories and sought to pivot the conversation to how the information regarding the contacts between his campaign and the Russians leaked out…
…Given the seriousness of those allegations, tweets about the Clinton campaign or the “fake news” aren’t going to cut it. Congressional Republicans are getting more and more worried that this situation is spinning out of control and has the possibility to do serious damage to the entire party less than a month into the Trump presidency.
► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — has been rather quiet about the White House Russia scandal. In an interview with Denver7 on Tuesday, Gardner said…well, nothing, really. Gardner seems to be falling apart in general under the strain of his 100% voting record with Trump.
Meanwhile, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) is pushing for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also pushing for an official inquiry.
► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Boulder County for its unwillingness to open up its lands for oil and gas drilling.
Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)