Thousands Gather To Watch Congressmen Underperform

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The Congressional Baseball Game is going ahead tonight; if the 2000s New York Yankees didn’t sate your appetite for old rich dudes with little-to-no athletic ability, you should definitely go. The Commerce Department removed LGBT protections from its workplace regulations, so now you know what people will be discriminating about around the water cooler tomorrow. And the GIF turned 30 today, meaning it’s old enough to sell out and land a job tweeting GIFs for a multinational corporation so it can afford daycare for its kid. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, June 15th, 2017:

@AlexNBCNews: A source familiar with the situation tells NBC News Whip Steve Scalise is out of surgery and remains in critical condition. 

PENCE HIRES OUTSIDE COUNSEL FOR RUSSIA PROBE – Ashley Parker: “Vice President Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to help with both congressional committee inquiries and the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. The vice president’s office said Thursday that Pence has retained Richard Cullen, a Richmond-based attorney and chairman of  McGuire Woods who previously served as a U.S. attorney in Eastern District of Virginia. Pence’s decision comes less than a month after Trump hired his own private attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz, to help navigate the investigations related to the Russia probe, and a day after the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is now widening his investigation to examine whether the president attempted to obstruct justice.” [WaPo] 

JEFF SESSION’S ELASTIC RELATIONSHIP TO THE TRUTH INCREASINGLY OBVIOUS – Stephanie Kirchgaessner: “An American lobbyist for Russian interests who helped craft an important foreign policy speech for Donald Trump has confirmed that he attended two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the 2016 campaign, apparently contradicting the attorney general’s sworn testimony given this week. Sessions testified under oath on Tuesday that he did not believe he had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump’s campaign. But Richard Burt, a former ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration, who has represented Russian interests in Washington, told the Guardian that he could confirm previous media reports that stated he had contacts with Sessions at the time.” [Guardian] 

TRUMP ADMIN TARGETING MUELLER – Igor Bobic: “It’s only been a month since the Justice Department appointed him, but the knives are already out for special counsel Robert Mueller. President Donald Trump on Thursday denounced what he called ‘the single greatest witch hunt in American political history’ after The Washington Post reported that he is being investigated for obstructing justice. The investigation into his presidential campaign’s possible ties to Russia, the president said on Twitter, is being led by ‘some very bad and conflicted people.’ Mueller is a highly-respected former director of the FBI and is the second-longest-serving director in the agency’s history. He was appointed by a Republican president in 2001 and confirmed unanimously by a 98-0 vote in the Senate…. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, on Thursday called Mueller the ‘anti-Trump special counsel.’” [HuffPost] 

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MANAFORT GONNA MANAFORT – Corey Lewandowski must be so jealous of this guy.  Kenneth P. Vogel: “Paul Manafort is at the center of an FBI investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s team and the Russians, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing business with international figures and companies, partly by claiming continued access to Trump, according to people familiar with his dealings. Manafort in recent weeks has either consulted or worked with a Chinese construction billionaire looking to expand his business overseas and a telecommunications firm interested in regulatory approval from governments in Asia and the Middle East, as well as an investment fund claiming links to the Chinese government, according to documents and interviews. Manafort quietly consulted on a proposal under which the Chinese fund — the China Development Fund — would invest $30 billion or more in the Puerto Rican government’s bond debt and possibly the island’s critical infrastructure, according to documents and interviews with four people familiar with the negotiations, including a Manafort business partner.” [Politico]

IT GETS WORSE – Hillary is just as bad as Trump. David Mack: “The Trump Administration’s Department of Commerce has outraged LGBT groups by removing sexual orientation and gender identity from the list of categories explicitly protected from discrimination in its latest equal employment opportunity statement. ‘The Department of Commerce does not tolerate behavior, harassment, discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability,” reads the 2017 Secretarial Policy Statement on Equal Employment Opportunity signed by Secretary Wilbur Ross. ‘We will also provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities.’” [BuzzFeed] 

ANGRY OLD MAN AWAITING RESPONSES TO HIS LETTERS – Do you ever get the sense that if Chuck Grassley weren’t a senator, he’d be writing letters to his senator? Todd Ruger: “Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is tired of his requests to the Justice Department going unanswered — and he’s fighting back yet again. The Iowa Republican announced Thursday that the committee won’t advance the nomination of Stephen Boyd to be assistant attorney general for legislative affairs until he gets responses to at least 15 letters, some due more than six months ago. Grassley, whose other frustrations led him to delay nominees this year and take to Twitter to get information from the Trump administration, spoke emphatically at a committee business meeting.” [Roll Call]

EBONY AND IVORY, LIVE TOGETHER IN PERFECT HARMONYGOP lobbyists dream of an America where someone is judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their Rolodexes. Ryan Grim: CGCN Group, a Republican lobbying firm with ties to the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, has formed a new strategic alliance with four Democratic firms that work closely with the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses. The odd quintuple said that despite wildly diverging politics on a slew of issues, they all have one thing in common: high levels of poverty back home…. Entrenched, generational poverty has bred universal anger at Washington, Wall Street, and other elite institutions, which establishment Democrats have yet to figure out how to channel, according to the memo. That creates an opening for Republicans looking to exploit class politics, while using Democratic identity politics as leverage. The preponderance of white faces at Democratic lobby shops, meanwhile, puts such firms at a disadvantage in challenging the attack.” [Intercept] 

LISA MURKOWSKI REGRETS IN ADVANCE VOTING FOR THE HEALTH CARE BILL – Woe betide those who count on “moderates” not caving. Dylan Scott: “’I want greater access and lower costs. So far, I’m not seeing that happen.’ … ‘I think the requirements that I’m looking for and my constituents are asking for are pretty basic. My task is going to be to make sure that those basic asks are met.’ … ‘My constituents expect me to know, and if we had utilized the process that goes through a committee, I would be able to answer not only your questions but my constituents’ questions.’” [Vox] 

BAN MEN – It’s a good thing our country has a leader whose behavior and views stand athwart these disturbing trends. Laura Bassett: While young women of the baby-boom generation saw rapid progress in terms of economic equality, health and overall well-being compared to their mothers, that trend has started to reverse for young millennial women, according to a new study by the Population Reference Bureau. American women under 35 are more likely than the generation before them to be incarcerated, live in poverty, commit suicide or die from pregnancy-related causes and less likely to hold high-paying jobs in STEM fields, according to the report, which compared 14 key indicators of socioeconomic progress and well-being. While young women of the baby-boom generation saw a 66 percent gain in overall well-being compared to their World War II-era mothers, Generation X experienced only a 2 percent gain, and well-being for young women today has actually declined 1 percent.” [HuffPost] 

THAT’S NOT A SICK BURN. THAT’S A SICK BURN – Put another Trump on the barbie, mate! Nine News: “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull isn’t known for being a comedian but he tried some daring Donald Trump material on a room full of journalists in Canberra last night…. ‘The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much, we are winning, we are winning like we have never won before,’ he says. He also alludes to the probe into the Trump campaign’s links with Russia, adding: ‘I have this Russian guy… Believe me, it’s true, it is true.’” [Nine News] 

Cleanse us all in fire: “After President Donald Trump tweeted the word ‘covfefe’ accidentally a few weeks ago (we know, it feels like years), some people simply refuse to let it die. So much so that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has received more than 30 trademark requests that include the word ‘covfefe,’ according to The Hill. Outside of requests to trademark the word as-is, other requests include hashtag versions of the word and even ‘Covfefe Coffee.’” [HuffPost’s Jenna Amatulli] 

LONGTIME D.C. COUNCILMAN JIM GRAHAM DEAD No one drove around D.C. in a Volkswagen Beetle convertible while wearing a sharp hat and surrounded by a bunch of svelte men better. Andrew Giambrone and Jeffrey Anderson: “Colorful former Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, an openly gay member who was known as a tireless advocate for the LGBT community and the poor, died Sunday after a recent illness at the age of 71, the D.C. Council confirms. Graham, who was executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic for 15 years during the early years of the AIDS crisis, served on the D.C. Council from 1999 to 2015, leaving after being unseated in 2014 by Brianne Nadeau…. Graham had his foibles, not the least of which was the way he wielded power, particularly toward the end of his career. Exhibit A would be his insistence that a lottery subcontractor would have to give up a transportation-related contract in order to gain his support.” [WCP] 

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a literal D.C. fat cat. 

JUST ANOTHER REASON TO FEEL WEIRD ABOUT WASHINGTON’S FOOTBALL TEAM – None of this would’ve happened if they took Arthur Delaney’s suggestion and rename themselves the Washington Department of Football. MIke Jones and David Fahrenthold: “As quarterback of the Washington Redskins, Kirk Cousins has the highest-profile job in the city except for the president of the United States. Or so it is sometimes said. Now, Cousins is rubbing shoulders with President Trump. The Redskins quarterback joined Trump and two others for a round of golf Saturday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, N.J. Cousins said that Eric Shuster, the director of strategic partnerships at CSN Midatlantic, had something to do with the pairing. Approached on the subject, Cousins said playing golf with the president was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. ‘Great experience,’ Cousins said after a Redskins practice in Ashburn on Wednesday.” [WaPo]

– Very good dog photobombs Google Street View.

Respect to Third Eye Blind for how they announced their 20th anniversary album.

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffpost.com) 



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