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The Morning Briefing: AZ Special Election, Jackson Smeared and Much, Much More

Good Wednesday morning

I do not have the President's agenda today

Republican wins AZ special election

Republican Debbie Lesko has won the special election to replace Trent Franks, who resigned from office late last year. The "story" on this race--and the story always changes about what a GOP victory or loss means in the era of the resistance-- is that anything less than a double-digit win by the Republican candidate is some kind of mandate on Trump's presidential victory. As of right now, the spread is about 6 points -- very convenient.

I've heard the smart people tell me that Franks won by huge margins (20 points) in this district. But in 2016 and 2014 the Democrats didn't even run a candidate so it's not exactly the same situation.

RUSSIA collusion round-up

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) argues that legislation to "protect" Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired is unconstitutional in an oped for USA Today. Lee explains:

Supporters of the legislation argue it is necessary to ensure no one is above the law, but the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and the Constitution provides that only the president can exercise executive power.

Because the power to prosecute is the quintessential executive authority, any congressional attempt to direct prosecutions — including by limiting the president’s power to fire a prosecutor — is an unconstitutional breach in the separation of powers. All senators swear to uphold the Constitution, and I hope that the full Senate will not pass this legislation, if it advances out of committee.

Fired FBI Director James Comey has lawyered up amid allegations that he leaked classified memos to his buddy to distribute to the New York Times. Sources say that former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will help Comey “navigate [Comey’s] dramatic role as a potential witness in the investigation of President Trump’s campaign and potential obstruction of justice.” You may remember Fitzgerald from his stint as the special counsel that prosecuted Scooter Libby. Fitzgerald knew State Department employee Richard Armitage "leaked" the identity of Valerie Plame but went after and convicted Libby as the leaker, purportedly when Libby wouldn't turn on VP Dick Cheney.

There's a new development in the narrative around the Comey classified memo leak: the buddy Comey leaked his memos to is actually a special employee or something at the FBI:

The professor, Daniel Richman, confirmed the special status in response to an inquiry from Fox News, while referring other questions, including on the scope of his work, to the FBI.

"I did indeed have SGE status with the Bureau (for no pay)," Richman wrote in an email.

So did Comey just throw his friend under the bus? It sounds like Comey is pointing the finger and saying Richman was allowed to receive the classified information but he improperly leaked the information to the New York Times.