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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*
*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

 

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Breaking - House Intel panel releases controversial Nunes memo | Read the memo | Trump calls allegations a 'disgrace' | Signals he has no confidence in deputy AG | Lawmakers weigh bill to fund government through March 23 | Economy adds 200K jobs in January | Olive Garden's 'Italian nachos'

 

BREAKING

The. Memo. Is. Here.:

In a controversial and unprecedented move, the House Intelligence Committee just released a previously classified memo alleging abuse of government surveillance powers by the Justice Department. http://bit.ly/2nwGX2V

 Read the full, 4-page memo: From the House Intelligence Committee's website: http://bit.ly/2EaRoCE

^^Because of the demand: Some people are having trouble opening the link because the server is overloaded.  Here's another way to read if it won't load: http://bit.ly/2DYxewI

One quick take: From journalist Garrett M. Graff: "My VERY quick read--the Nunes memo is ... a big let-down. Will shore up Trump base, sure, and muddy waters, but no real surprise/shock. Carter Page was known to be targeted by Russian intelligence officers, from the SVR, already, years earlier. Plenty of non-Steele reasons (presumably omitted from Nunes memo) to surveil him." http://bit.ly/2EbFjgQ

Keep in mind -- there aren't redactions: White House spokesman Raj Shah said the document has been declassified "in full" and sent back to the House Intelligence Committee. Shah said no redactions were made. 

How it was published: Minutes before the memo came out, President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE approved its release. http://bit.ly/2GG53Ac

LOL, t​o sum up this news (well, and th​is​ week): "The buildup for this memo was too much. I'm gonna need an emotional support peacock." http://bit.ly/2DWUrzd

Back story -- it's incredible if you missed the story about the emotional support peacock: http://nbcnews.to/2nyTdA1

Meanwhile...:

Happy Friday -- it's Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter ... lovely. https://usat.ly/2nwlSpi I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com@CateMartel and on Facebook.

 

HOW THE NUNES MEMO BECAME SO IMPORTANT TO THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesJuan Williams: Trump, the Great Destroyer The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — Latest on Hurricane Michael | Trump, Kanye West to have lunch at White House | GOP divided over potential 2020 high court vacancy Senate Dem: Trump's 'fake, hyperbolic rantings' an insult to real Medal of Honor recipients MORE (R-Calif.) crafted a controversial memo alleging surveillance abuses at the Department of Justice, causing a firestorm over its accuracy and whether it should be released. http://bit.ly/2nBWoWT

The short version of why Republicans and the president wanted it released: Republicans believe the memo will show that the Justice Department used information partially funded by Democrats to push the investigation into the Trump campaign.

Agencies that didn't want the memo released: The Department of Justice and the FBI have fiercely opposed the release of the memo on the grounds that it is misleading and could expose sensitive intelligence sources and methods. 

Why Democrats opposed the release: Democrats describe the document as a dangerous politicization of intelligence -- a cherry-picked set of data points designed to damage Mueller's investigation. So: Democrats drafted their own memo to rebut the first. The House Intelligence Committee voted not to release the Democratic rebuttal. Whether it will eventually be released is unknown. 

Keep in mind about Nunes: He recused himself from the Russia investigation after the revelation that he secretly visited the White House grounds the day before announcing he'd been shown evidence of incidental surveillance of President Trump's transition team. http://bit.ly/2o7uqF1

 

RECAP - THE BIGGEST RUSSIA UPDATES THIS WEEK:

Monday: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeFBI investigated media leak of McCabe comment about Flynn and Trump Clinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself MORE stepped down. Keep in mind: "McCabe was a central target of President Donald Trump's ire toward the FBI over its involvement in the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election." http://cnn.it/2nCDuPv

The House Intelligence Committee voted to release a GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses at the Justice Department.

Wednesday: The New York Times reported that a former spokesperson for President Trump's legal team is expected to testify that White House communication director Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump: 'I don't call it tweeting. I call it social media' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump heads to battleground Iowa, where GOP House members seek help Hope Hicks to become Fox chief communications officer MORE may have obstructed justice. How: Hicks allegedly promised during a phone call that emails from Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Eric Trump: Trump Org has 'zero investments' in Russia or Saudi Arabia MORE about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians "will never get out." http://nyti.ms/2BPzpfZ

Thursday: Lawyers for Richard Gates quit. Who is Gates?: Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan MORE's co-defendant and a former Trump campaign aide charged with tax fraud and money laundering in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's Russia probe. Keep in mind: Gates's lawyers quit a week after CNN reported that Gates could be moving to cooperate with the special counsel. http://bit.ly/2rXCo6A

As soon as today: The GOP House Intelligence Committee memo could be released as soon as today. President Trump viewed the controversial memo and is planning to soon authorize its release.

 

T MINUS 6 DAYS UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN

What do ya gotta do around here to get a government funded (for more than a few weeks at a time)?: House lawmakers will likely consider legislation to keep the government open through about March 23, according to two sources familiar with the situation, though the plan has not been finalized. http://bit.ly/2GH23DC

When current government funding expires: Feb. 8. Yes, that is soon.

Why another short-term funding bill?: The thinking is that a six-week funding patch would give lawmakers enough time to reach a deal on immigration, which would then unlock the budget caps deal to allow writing a massive omnibus spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year.

When Congress will likely vote for this March 23 funding bill: Likely Tuesday. House Democrats are leaving for a retreat Wednesday.

Be straight with us -- will there be a government shutdown again?: It's not likely. Senate Democrats have said they are less willing to use shutdown tactics another time.

 

ANNOUNCED THIS A.M.

Tell me about those jobs: The U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, giving the economy a strong start to the year amid anticipation that a Republican tax package will further boost the nearly nine-year expansion. The unemployment rate: It held at 4.1 percent for the fourth straight month, the lowest level since December 2000, when it was 3.9 percent. For context: In the past year, the jobless rate has dropped from 4.8 percent to 4.1. http://bit.ly/2DZkgyI

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

Ugh, this is pretty intense: Via CNN's Eric Levenson, "The father of three daughters who were abused by Larry Nassar tried to attack the former doctor in an Eaton County, Michigan, court Friday before he was tackled and arrested by security." What he said before he lunged: "I would ask you, as part of the sentencing, to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon," he asked. "Would you give me one minute?" The judge declined, saying, "That's not how our legal system works." Video: http://cnn.it/2EcXCC2

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Lol...:

 

Onion, thanks for being you:

 

ON TAP:

Congress is out. President Trump is leaving for Virginia for meetings and then will head to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Vice President Pence is in Pittsburgh but will be back in D.C. tonight.

11:30 a.m. EST: President Trump met with North Korean defectors. Details: http://bit.ly/2E6plVd

1:15 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at a Rick Saccone for Congress event in Pittsburgh.

2:40 p.m. EST: President Trump tours the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center in Virginia.

3:05 p.m. EST: President Trump holds a Customs and Border Protection roundtable.

4:40 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis CNN's Acosta sends private message to former Melania Trump aide: 'F--- you' Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns MORE leave for Florida.

11 a.m. EST Monday: Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE is presenting a human rights award at Georgetown University.

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

2:35 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at a tax-reform event in Pennsylvania. Livestream: http://cs.pn/2DYa8SL

6:30 p.m. EST Sunday: Super Bowl LII. Details and predictions from CBS Sports: http://cbsprt.co/2BO7dKz

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Bubble Gum Day. I.e.: my weakness

As judgmental as I feel​, I am a wee bit intrigued: Via Business Insider, Olive Garden is now serving Italian nachos. How the?: The dish "is essentially fried lasagna sheets topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, a three-meat ragu sauce, cherry peppers, and alfredo sauce." How long they will appear on Olive Garden's menu: Until April 1 -- when I assume they will tell us this was all an elaborate April Fool's prank and that America is doomedPhotos -- I KNOW you're curious: http://read.bi/2EzPARI

And because you read this far, here's one of the best videos I've seen in a while: a group of penguins reacting when one of them falls. Be sure to watch this with the sound on -- I think this confirms penguins curse, too. http://bit.ly/2EvDbxX