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Vox Sentences: Steele yourself

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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Christopher Steele, author of the “Steele dossier” about Trump, finds himself a target of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Trump freezes Pakistan’s security aid.


Investigate the investigator

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • Republican senators running the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Russian meddling in the US election have made their first request for a criminal referral to the US Justice Department, and it’s for Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the famous “Steele dossier” on Donald Trump. [Vox / Matt Yglesias and Andrew Prokop]
  • Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina made the request today. It’s not exactly an arrest warrant for Steele, but rather a request that the Justice Department pursue charges against him for potentially lying to the FBI. [Washington Post / Devlin Barrett and Tom Hamburger]
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee is one of three congressional committees investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election — and these are all separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. [BuzzFeed News / Emma Loop]
  • The fact that Grassley and Graham want the Justice Department to investigate Steele is notable in that it’s the first request for charges for anyone in the committee’s investigation, and they’re choosing someone who was also investigating possible ties between Trump and Russia. [NYT / Nicholas Fandos and Matthew Rosenberg]
  • The move has also incensed Democrats on the committee, who said they weren’t consulted about the decision, adding that it distracts from the real investigation. [Politico / Kyle Cheney]
  • Increasingly, there is a broader Republican effort underfoot to discredit the investigations into the Russia matter, with some conservative lawmakers characterizing the whole thing as a witch hunt. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • In other news to demonstrate that the 2016 election will never actually be over, the FBI has reportedly reopened the investigation into the Clinton Foundation, even though federal prosecutors determined no charges are likely to come from the probe. [The Hill / Jonathan Solomon]

Trump shuts off aid to Pakistan

  • Among the many controversial tweets President Trump sent this week was a complaint about Pakistan, which he accused of harboring terrorists from neighboring Afghanistan. [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • But just a day later, the Trump administration announced it was freezing all US security aid to Pakistan — up to $1.3 billion (although US officials stressed this freeze could be lifted soon if Pakistan takes action against the Taliban and Haqqani network). [NYT / Mujib Mashal and Salman Masood]
  • The move comes at a time when things are not looking good in Afghanistan: Attacks are on the rise, and the reasoning from US officials seems to be that Pakistan isn’t doing enough in the fight against terror in its neighboring country. Therefore, the thinking is that they’re trying to up the pressure on Pakistan with the aid suspension. [CNN / Nick Paton Walsh]
  • Of course, there’s concern this could backfire, especially if the Trump administration wants a US troop surge in Afghanistan. Pakistan controls routes in and out of the country, and a good relationship is needed if Americans even want to get into Afghanistan. [LA Times / Shashank Bengali, Tracy Wilkinson, and Aoun Sahi]

Miscellaneous

  • Guests who appeared on Dr. Phil’s show to confront their addiction issues on live television are accusing the celebrity host of upping the drama (and ratings) by subtly encouraging them to drink or do drugs behind the scenes. [STAT and the Boston Globe / David Armstrong and Evan Allen]
  • Incarcerated women have a long and storied history of formulating their own makeup to retain some sense of self in prison, even going to far as to melt down black shoe polish for mascara. [Racked / Marlen Komar]
  • Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis has been accused of sexual assault by four women, including two who say Haggis raped them. [Associated Press / Michael Balsamo and Lindsey Bahr]
  • Steve Bannon has had a very bad week since he was quoted in Michael Wolff’s explosive new book about the Trump presidency — his biggest financial backer just announced she is severing ties. [BuzzFeed News / Tarini Parti and Joseph Bernstein]

Verbatim

“When my wife told her grandfather that I graduated from nursing school, he just laughed. But I think there are more men who are less afraid to take on what have traditionally been considered feminine roles.” [Nurse John-Flor Sisante to NYT / Claire Cain Miller and Ruth Fremson]


Watch this: Iran’s massive protests, explained in 4 minutes

How the price of eggs sparked an uprising in Iran. [YouTube / Johnny Harris]


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