[guest post by Dana]
Just going to leave these right here.
1) Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker before the House Judiciary Committee said he did not interfer in the Russia inquiry:
The hearing quickly turned contentious as the committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, pressed Mr. Whitaker for details about when he had been briefed about the special counsel investigation and the acting attorney general refused to answer.
But under pressure from the chairman, Mr. Whitaker made news: He testified that he had not talked to Mr. Trump or senior White House officials about information: “I do not believe that I have briefed third-party individuals outside of the Department of Justice. I’ve received the briefings myself, and I’m usually the endpoint at that information.”
Mr. Whitaker ultimately declared that though he had been briefed, he had followed “the special counsel’s regulations to a T.”
2) Gov. Northam of Virginia staying put?:
A close associate of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) says he doesn’t expect the governor to resign over the emergence of a racist photo in a past yearbook and his disclosure that he had once worn blackface.
Republican state Sen. Richard Stuart, a close friend of the governor who has talked with Northam told Politico that Northam “knows what he has to do” to remain in office.
“He’s not leaving,” said Stuart. “He understands he has to stand up and face this. He knows what he has to do. He’s staying.”
3) Gov. Northam cuts deal with Republicans. Anything to stay in office, eh?:
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican lawmakers said Friday they’ve agreed on a tax deal that will return nearly $1 billion to Virginians.
The agreement, reached unusually early in Virginia’s often contentious budget-writing process, would:
Give taxpayers a credit of $110 for individuals — $220 for couples filing jointly — to be distributed in October, the month before this year’s state elections in which all 100 House and 40 state Senate seats are up for a vote.
Increase the state standard deduction from $3,000 to $4,500 for individuals and from $6,000 to $9,000 for couples, to take effect with next year’s tax filings.
Retain the current deduction on state and local taxes, instead of adopting the $10,000 cap in last year’s federal tax changes.
Those changes, mainly a doubling of the federal standard deduction, would generate a roughly $1.1 billion flood of money this year and next into state coffers without any changes in Virginia law.
Jim Geraghty suggests this is why Northam went for the deal:
Why did Northam agree to the deal? Watching almost every member of his party in the state call for his resignation may have made him less motivated to fight for their priorities – particularly when his former allies take a less-adamant stance regarding scandals involving the lieutenant governor and state attorney general. Northam is reportedly toying with the idea of leaving the Democratic Party and governing as an independent. For Virginia Republicans, Northam may be transforming into the best of both worlds for them – a governor so damaged, he feels pressure to sign their priorities into law, but who is also simultaneously an albatross to Democrats.
4) Jeff Bezos fights back [excerpts]:
Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.
From: Howard, Dylan [email@example.com] (Chief Content Officer, AMI)
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 3:33 PM
To: Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker)
Subject:. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos
CONFIDENTIAL & NOT FOR DISTRIBIUTION
[I]n the interests of expediating this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering.
In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include: (very intimate photos of both Bezos and his girlfriend )
It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.
In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie.
AMI promises to “promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims” made by Bezos”. And now federal prosecutors are reportedly involved and investigating how the National Enquirer handled the story.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)