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Stretch, grab a late afternoon cup of caffeine and get caught up on the most important news of the day with our Coffee Break newsletter. These are the stories that will fill you in on the world that's spinning outside of your office window - at the moment that you get a chance to take a breath.
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The Morning Briefing: Shutdown Averted, the Latest RUSSIA Collusion, and Much, Much More

Good Friday morning.

Here is what's on the President's agenda today.

  • In the morning, the President receives his intelligence briefing
  • Afterwards, the President meets with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
  • Later in the afternoon, President Trump will meet with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

The government shutdown

At the time of this writing, 4:15am ET, Congress has failed to fund the government and unless they come to agreement in the House, it will remain closed. The Senate approved (71-28) another temporary funding package but not before midnight. Reuters tells us, "the U.S. Senate approved a budget deal including a stopgap government funding bill early on Friday, but it was too late to prevent a federal shutdown that was already underway in an embarrassing setback for the Republican-controlled Congress." Yes, right, "embarrassing."

According to Fox News:

While the government's authority to spend some money expired at midnight, there weren't likely to be many clear immediate effects. Essential personnel would remain on the job regardless, and it appeared possible -- if not likely -- that the measure could pass both the Senate and House before most federal employees were due to report for work.

The House has been working on the legislation since 2:30amET. The Freedom Caucus is not expected to sign on to the bill. Some Democrats like clown Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) are also not going to support the bill: “So today, they are going to bring over from the Senate a proposal, they are going to lift the caps and they're going to say, let's vote on our budget. Well, I say to everybody -- don't collude with this administration,” Gutierrez said. “Vote against the budget.” Maybe he should leave office, because his job is to work with the administration and it looks like he doesn't want to do that job.

Developing...

EDITED TO ADD: The House passed the bill, it's about 5:40amET.

George W. Bush has some feelz

This guy is a bigger disappointment out of office than he was while he was in office. He kept his mouth shut while Obama weaponized the government and targeted conservatives. He kept his mouth shut when Obama paid Hezbollah Iran almost $2B and basically green-lighted the Iranian nuclear program. He kept his mouth shut when former AG Eric Holder ran guns to narcoterrorists in Mexico. But during the Trump administration, he's going to open his yapper. Overseas.

"It's problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system because democracy is only as good as the people trust in results," Bush said at a Milken Institute summit in Abu Dhabi. He added, "There's pretty clear evidence that the RUSSIANS meddled."

"Whether they affected the outcome (of the election) is another question, but they meddled, and that's dangerous for democracy," Bush continued.

"The RUSSIAN government has made a project of turning Americans against each other," he said at the time, adding that while RUSSIAN interference will not be successful, "foreign aggression, including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence, should never be downplayed or tolerated."

You know who is helping the RUSSIANS with their goal of American political chaos? The Democrats and the media. The RUSSIANS want chaos and discord, and the media is ginning up the public, delivering agitprop and #resistance against  President Trump. I don't mean legitimate policy debates or difference, I mean things like telling voters that Trump policies are ARMAGEDDON, that they will kill you, and that they are RACIST.

The Porter Affair

When the media isn't freaking out over the parade, they are freaking out over the former White House staff secretary, Rob Porter. Porter, it was discovered, likes to beat and abuse his wives. The media got excited because he is said to be dating Hope Hicks and the media is really no different than the E! Entertainment network. The media's sights are now set on Chief of Staff John Kelly. What did he know and when did he know it?

Porter was working under a provisional security clearance, which is not that unusual when a new employee goes into the White House because it takes almost a year for the FBI to complete a thorough background check. Plus, FBI agents are busy smashmouthing Trump via text messages and attending meetings at "Andy's office" during their work days.

According to Politico:

White House chief of staff John Kelly was told several weeks ago that the FBI would deny full security clearances to multiple White House aides who had been working in the West Wing on interim security clearances.

Those aides, according to a senior administration official, included former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who left the White House on Thursday after reports that he physically and verbally abused his two ex-wives.

But we don't know what he was told about why Porter wouldn't get a clearance. Was he told he beat his wives up? Was he shown the pictures? We really don't know those things which are important before we start saying he blew off Porter's wife-beating and abuse. There is a climate now that treats an allegation as a statement of fact followed by the expectation of immediate consequences. If Kelly did know why Porter wasn't going to get a security clearance and looked the other way, then yes, that is a problem.

It looks like both Kelly and WH counsel Don McGahn were made aware of the allegations last fall, writes The Hill. It's not clear what, if any, steps they took to follow up. This has certainly been a PR disaster for the WH.

RUSSIA collusion update

Congressional investigators are looking into a second dossier on the Trump/RUSSIA collusion narrative, "containing uncorroborated allegations about President Trump’s activities in Russia – this one compiled by a freelance journalist and shared with a prominent Clinton ally." (Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer.)

What if I told you that Steele was just a cover to get the information from Blumenthal and Shearer to the FBI? I'm just speculating here...

CBS writes, "Some Democrats have taken an interest in this second dossier’s contents as an indication that a separate line of research may have produced similar information to some of the material gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele, while others see the focus on the provenance of the information as a distraction for congressional investigators."

Well, something like that. Anyway, Blumenthal is said to have given his material to State Department employee Jonathan Winer, who has written an oped in the Washington Post defending himself. Winer worked the Libya desk at State. Say, what country is Benghazi in? Who sent former secretary of State "informal" reports about what was going on in Libya during her time at State?

Related:

A second memo is on the horizon as Nunes gears up to launch the next strike in his investigation into the FBI

Another longtime Comey aide leaving FBI

Democrats ask Grassley for public hearings on Russia's meddling

Grassley: Trump Jr. interview transcript release likely to take weeks

IMPORTANT: Devin Nunes May Summon Chief Justice To Testify On FISA Abuses

Our own Deb Heine writes about Senate Intelligence Committee member Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) cavorting with the representative of a RUSSIAN oligarch (banned from the U.S.) to get to dossier author and spy Christopher Steele.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee communicated through phone calls and text messages last spring with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch in order to gain access to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the salacious and unverified anti-Trump dossier.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) texted back and forth with lobbyist Adam Waldman, who runs the Endeavor Group -- which has ties to (surprise!) Hillary Clinton -- while leading the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into President Trump's alleged ties to Russia with his Republican colleague North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.

All I want to point out here is far less was used to smear AG Jeff Sessions and President Trump with a RED SCARE.

Historical picture of the day:

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 1964 file photo, The Beatles perform on the CBS "Ed Sullivan Show" in New York. Ringo Starr plays drums and playing guitars from left are Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon. An estimated 73 million Americans tuned in, the largest ever for a TV show at the time, or three times the amount of people who watched the latest "American Idol" finale, according to the Nielsen Co. (AP Photo, file)

Other morsels:

Here are the gold-medal favorites for every single event at the Winter Olympics

California lawmaker behind #MeToo push is accused of groping male staffer

Dow Jones drops more than 1,000 points as volatility continues

Stubborn high school refuses to allow ‘Malcolm X’ on student’s senior sweater despite outcry

At Olympics, Pence keeping heat on North Korea

Paris attack suspect refuses to show up to hearing in Brussels

LOL Twitter executive on fake news: ‘We are not the arbiters of truth’

Trump administration may target immigrants who use food aid, other benefits

Amtrak CEO to testify before U.S. House in wake of accidents

Even House Dems wonder: What was the point of the Pelosi filibuster?

House Oversight Committee opens probe into sexual abuse of gymnasts

Adam Rippon’s mom says Olympian didn’t ‘refuse’ to meet with Pence

Eric Holder: ‘Any One Of My Kids Would Make A Better President Than Donald Trump’

Mattis: 'Dreamers' in military will not be deported

Potential serial killer targeting homeless people in Las Vegas

College student says airline made her flush prized hamster down toilet

School district pulls 2 classic novels off required reading list, citing racial slurs

Tyson Foods announces bonuses due to federal tax overhaul

Hard pass Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner reveal new HBO series to follow 'Girls'

Data trends show no seat is safe in 2018

Biden: Trump hurting country with 'clannish nationalism,' 'phony populism'

Oh yes Amazon is rolling out 2-hour delivery for Whole Foods — here's how it works

And that's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mob!