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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing porn actress Stephanie Clifford in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, told TPM’s “Josh Marshall Podcast” on Friday that both he and Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, fear for their physical safety.

Avenatti told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier Friday morning that Clifford has been “physically threatened,” but he emphasized to TPM later on Friday that he and his client are taking at least some of those threats seriously.

“I think she’s very concerned about her physical safety right now, and I think she has very — or a lot of reasons to be concerned. I likewise am slightly concerned about my physical safety,” Avenatti told TPM’s Josh Marshall. “There’s been a series of death threats that have been received by her and me. There’s a lot of kooky people out there. Many of those threats we laugh off, some of which we don’t laugh off. But regardless of the death threats, or threats of injury to us or our families, we’re not going home. We’re not packing up.”

Avenatti would not go into detail on the nature of the threats when Marshall followed up to ask whether any of the threats appeared to be credible. However, Avenatti said that the intimidation Clifford has faced should be addressed in her upcoming “60 Minutes” interview, set to air March 25, and he indicated that he believes viewers will find the threats serious.

“I think when the interview airs, people are going to hear in detail what happened, and they’re going to judge for themselves as to whether that was some kook, if you will, some wing-nut, that just happened to come out of the blue, or if it was more than that. And I think they’re going to conclude it was certainly more than that,” he said.

Later in the interview, Marshall asked if “surrogates” of President Donald Trump have bullied Clifford or spread false narratives about Clifford.

Avenatti replied that Trump allies have done “both,” but would not indicate who the individuals were or how closely connected they are to the President.

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Republican Danny Tarkanian has agreed to drop his primary against Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and instead run for the House after getting a public shove from President Trump on Friday to do so, boosting Heller’s chances of reelection in the Democratic-leaning state.

Tarkanian announced he’d undertake another House run (he’s lost two previous bids for the House and six different campaigns in the state) almost immediately after Trump tweeted that he should do so and leave Heller alone, saying he’d done so because Trump asked him Wednesday night.

“I am confident I would have won the US Senate race and done a great job representing the people of Nevada in the Senate, but the president is adamant that a unified Republican ticket in Nevada is the best direction for the America First movement,” Tarkanian said in a statement.

His decision eliminates Heller’s primary rival and may give the senator some more wiggle room as he looks to burnish his moderate bona fides ahead of what looks like a very tough reelection fight against Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) that has been made harder by Heller’s bear-hugging the president to block Tarkanian.

“It would be great for the Republican Party of Nevada, and it’s [sic.] unity if good guy Danny Tarkanian would run for Congress and Dean Heller, who is doing a really good job, could run for Senate unopposed!” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon.

The tweet comes after Trump has privately said he’d campaign for Heller, who has become a loyal foot soldier for the president ever since he won in 2016.

Heller faces a brutal reelection campaign against Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Tarkanian had forced him into being a loyal foot soldier by running a campaign mostly focused on bashing Heller for not backing Trump enough. Trump’s public shove of Tarkanian may be the biggest help he’s done the GOP establishment since becoming president.

But while avoiding a primary is a godsend for Heller, Trump’s seal of approval is unlikely to help in the general election in a state he narrowly lost in 2016, has large and fast-growing populations of Hispanics and Asian Americans. According to Gallup, Trump’s approval rating in the state is in line with his national average over the past year, at slightly above 40 percent.

The Reno Gazette-Journal first reported Tarkanian’s change of heart.

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Amid the wrangling over the budget omnibus that must pass Congress by the end of next week to avoid a government shutdown, lawmakers are locked in a heated debate about whether to prop up or further chip away at Obamacare’s individual market.

Dueling proposals recently introduced in the Senate take aim specifically at the question of cheap, deregulated, short-term health insurance plans, which are expected to lure younger and healthier people out of the ACA market and drive up premiums for those who remain.

A Democratic bill would sharply limit those short-term plans and force them to adopt Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But a Republican effort, supported by the White House, wants to go in the opposite direction. It seeks to extend the length of short-term plans and make them renewable, essentially making the short-term plans indistinguishable from regular insurance plans and creating a entire shadow health care market free from the ACA’s rules and regulations.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other Republicans are downplaying their shocking loss in a deep-red Pennsylvania House district while insisting they continue to see their tax overhaul as a major winning message next fall. But their closing ads in the race — and others — suggest they’re a lot more likely to revert to culture war issues to try to save the House and win other tough races this fall.

Ryan urged his colleagues to keep selling tax reform on the campaign trail in a closed-door meeting Wednesday after their disastrous apparent loss in a heavily Republican Pennsylvania House district (there will likely be a recount), while waving off the race’s result as a fight between “two conservatives” that wouldn’t be replicated elsewhere and ignoring Democrat Conor Lamb’s attacks on the tax plan.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the GOP’s main House super-PAC, spent millions on ads blasting Lamb for opposing the tax plan early on in the race. But the group and the National Republican Congressional Committee moved on from those ads in the race’s final weeks as Lamb gained steam, pivoting to attacks on hot-button social issues like immigration and sanctuary cities, like this one:

That follows a pattern displayed in nearly every other election over the past year: When Republicans actually bet big on closing campaign ads they keep reverting to the culture wars to try to rev up their listless base.

Republicans followed a similar playbook in the special election to fill Montana’s sole House seat last year, hammering the Democratic candidate for wanting to “grab your guns” while touting the National Rifle Association’s support for now-Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT). While they did that, Gianforte refused to say where he was on Obamacare repeal – and even attacked a reporter who dared push him on the issue.

While few GOP groups were on the air for Roy Moore at the end, the pro-Trump super-PAC running ads on his behalf hammered now-Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) for his pro-choice views.

That strategy has held true even in more suburban territory, most notably in Virginia’s gubernatorial election last year. Ed Gillespie, once a paragon of big-tent conservatism and advocate of immigration reform, pivoted from early ads talking about tax cuts to brutal spots focused on MS-13 and sanctuary cities.

Republicans took a slightly different approach in the tony Atlanta suburbs to get now-Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) across the finish line, attacking Democrat Jon Ossoff as a tax-and-spend liberal who was weak on the military. But one of their key attacks in that race, as in all other House races including Pennsylvania’s, has been tying him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), where the emphasis has been much more about the coded “San Francisco liberal” than any particular policy gripe. Attacks on Pelosi remain a staple of any House GOP ad campaign, strategists are happy to acknowledge– and even some early Senate ads have featured Pelosi.

They tried that red-meat strategy even in the gubernatorial race in Democratic-leaning New Jersey:

The strategy has shown mixed results. But it’s likely to pop up in force especially in Senate contests, many of which are in more culturally conservative populist states like Missouri and West Virginia. It’s unclear how effective it will be in saving House members in swing and suburban territory, however, where Republicans might be forced to look to other strategies.

Pennsylvania was the first major election since the tax plan passed, giving Republicans a chance to push hard on an issue that had been a mere abstraction in the past. They argue that while the law remains unpopular overall, it’s improved its standing since it first passed late last year.

The CLF says its own polling found 50 percent of voters in the Pennsylvania district supported the law as of the beginning of March, after their ads ran, with just 35 percent opposing it. But they didn’t provide any data showing that it was a major motivator in the race – and the 15-point edge they say they have on that race isn’t as large as the 20-point margin Trump managed in the district in 2016, and nowhere near the huge disapproval rating for Pelosi the group found in the district. National polling suggests the law has become more popular, but is still underwater.

“The most important thing for the midterms is does the middle class think we cut their taxes? We’ve made progress selling the tax plan based on the progress I’ve seen since December but there’s still more work yet to be done,” CLF head Corry Bliss told TPM.

The GOP’s promise to run on the law sounds rather familiar to Democrats’ guarantee they’d run on Obamacare in 2010, which was polling at similar levels then to the tax law now, before largely abandoning it in a number of races ahead of their electoral shellacking.

Bliss promised: “You’re going to be seeing tax ads all across the country this fall.”

He may be telling the truth – Republicans need to tout their sole major legislative achievement and hope it pays some dividends. But Pennsylvania’s results prove that it’s far from a fix-it for the GOP’s political problems, and their actual ad spending suggests nervous strategists are likely to fall back more on Trump-like culture war attacks as they try to boost their base in a brutal electoral environment.

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Controversial Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is abandoning a primary challenge to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and instead launching a bid for the seat being vacated by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), he announced Wednesday evening, giving him an easier path to the U.S. Senate.

“By announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats’ chances of winning the open seat,” McDaniel said in a statement. “If we unite the party now and consolidate our resources, we can guarantee Donald Trump will have a fighter who will stand with him.”

That switch comes after months of internal debate from McDaniel, who delayed filing for the Wicker race for as long as he could as he waited on Cochran, before eventually jumping in a few weeks ago. Cochran announced shortly afterwards that he’d retire, creating a much easier opening for McDaniel, who lost a close and nasty primary to Cochran in 2014.

Cochran will resign on April 1, and Mississippi Gov. Phi Bryant (R) has said he’ll start considering a replacement after that. McDaniel’s allies have pushed to have him named to the seat, something Bryant is loath to do.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump have both encouraged Bryant to appoint himself, but sources say he’s not thrilled with the idea. Whoever Bryant does pick is likely to have their hands full with McDaniel, who has a rabid Tea Party following in the state – though McDaniel’s criticisms of Trump during the 2016 GOP primary give opponents fodder to attack him.

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The cycle is getting shorter.

Before House Republicans had even learned the details of a new White House proposal for a three-year renewal of DACA paired with three years of border wall funding, the White House had already walked back the idea.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday afternoon that White House officials had been reaching out to Capitol Hill leaders to gauge their enthusiasm for the short-term deal, saying President Trump was on board with the plan despite his prior insistence that any immigration package include cuts to legal immigration. Just a few hours later, White House spokesperson Raj Shah said Trump does not support the short-term package and will only back a more comprehensive bill.

While the trail balloon was still aloft, several Republican lawmakers told TPM they would not be on board if such a provision was added to the upcoming budget omnibus.

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, on Wednesday called on the committee’s chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), to subpoena the White House and 16 federal agencies for documents on Trump administration officials’ use of personal email.

Gowdy and Cummings asked the White House and other federal agencies in September to identify any staffers who used a personal email account to conduct official business. The request followed reports that several administration officials, including President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had used their personal email accounts to conduct work for the White House.

The White House ignored the Oversight Committee leaders’ request, however, and 16 of the 25 agencies the congressmen contacted also failed to comply with the request, according to Cummings.

“Although we sent a joint request to the White House last September seeking a wide range of documents, you abruptly abandoned our investigation after the White House informed us that they had their own internal review underway,” Cummings wrote in the letter calling on Gowdy to subpoena the White House.

Cummings argued that Gowdy took a different approach when investigating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email use.

“You demanded—and I supported—the production of all her emails related to Benghazi, and you did not wait for the Inspector General of the State Department to complete their own internal reviews. You repeatedly called for an independent security review of her emails, and you showcased her use of private email as a potentially serious breech of national security. As a result, many Republicans—including President Trump and his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn—used this as a rallying cry to call for criminal penalties,” Cummings wrote.

“In contrast, since President Trump assumed office, you have refused to insist on the production of documents we both requested five months ago, you have refused to request a security review of private emails, and you have refused to request even single email from Mr. Kushner or anyone else at the White House, despite the fact that they apparently violated federal law,” he added.

Read Cummings’ email calling for Gowdy to subpoena the White House:

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Next Friday’s omnibus budget deadline may be Congress’ last best chance for passing a bill to stabilize Obamacare’s volatile individual market and prevent premiums from shooting up just before November’s midterm elections. But the bipartisan effort that has dragged out since last summer may crumble in the face of opposition from conservative lobby groups and demands from President Trump and House Republicans that Democrats say are “poison pills.”

Even if Congress manages to pass some form of the bipartisan package lawmakers have spent months negotiating—restoring the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers terminated by the Trump administration last year and implementing a national reinsurance program—health care experts and some lawmakers say that won’t do enough to stop the bleeding.

“When Alexander-Murray was originally crafted and we all signed onto it on a bipartisan basis, the sabotage was still limited,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) told TPM in a sit-down interview in her office Tuesday. “There’s been so much more since then, so what might have been much more than a Band-Aid right now is more limited in how much it can do.”

Read the latest reporter’s sum-up (Prime access) on GOP efforts to undermine Obamacare »

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This story was originally posted at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday and has since been updated.

Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory as he clung to a slim lead over Republican Rick Saccone in the race for an open House seat in heavily conservative southwestern Pennsylvania early Wednesday morning, as the election’s results sent a chill down the spines of Republicans bracing for the 2018 midterms.

Lamb led Saccone by just 579 votes out of more than 220,000 cast with all precincts reporting shortly before midnight EST. The Associated Press has yet to call the race, as absentee ballots in some portions of the district have yet to be counted, and Saccone suggested he might be ready for a recount challenge.

After a series of close calls in GOP-leaning districts last year, Democrats may have flipped their first House district of the Trump era.

The essentially tied race comes in a district that President Donald Trump carried by 20 percentage points in 2016 and President Barack Obama lost by double-digit margins in both of his elections.

“It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it,” Lamb told his supporters around 1 a.m. EST.

That victory lap may be premature, but the huge shift in the district toward Democrats is the much bigger news than who wins the seat, especially after a series of huge gains in other special elections over the last year-plus.

While GOP strategists sought to spin the close race away, some admitted that Tuesday night’s results were alarming no matter which candidate prevailed.

“Regardless of who ultimately wins, this is not a good result for the GOP,” former Republican National Committee Communications Director Doug Heye tweeted. “Look for more retirements to come.”

Republicans have long argued that Saccone was a flop of a candidate, and they’re right, but that only partly explains of the election’s photo finish. Saccone struggled mightily with fundraising, had a highly antagonistic relationship with unions – a real problem in the labor-heavy district – and proved to be far less charismatic than Lamb, a fresh-faced former Marine. But Saccone was no Roy Moore, and in a normal political environment even a lackluster candidate should have been able to win with little problem.

Tuesday night’s result is the latest sign of a building Democratic wave, and suggests it may not be limited solely to suburban areas. While Pennsylvania’s 18th district contains a good chunk of better-educated Pittsburgh suburbs, much of it covers blue-collar and more exurban territory, it’s overwhelmingly white, and though it’s ancestrally Democratic, Republicans have won there for decades. The rural and poorer portions of the district did not shift as dramatically toward Lamb as the more educated areas, but he showed marked improvement compared to Hillary Clinton’s performance in the district in 2016.

If Democrats can keep fighting to a draw in districts like this, they can win in plenty of places where Republicans were all but guaranteed victories in past years, as there are 119 GOP-held House seats that are more Democratic than this one.

Lamb was a strong candidate with an impressive resume who helped himself by breaking with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But Democrats won’t need the same type of lopsided edge in candidate quality to win in easier districts this fall, as evidenced by the more than three dozen state legislative seats they’ve flipped in the last year-plus, their upset win in Alabama’s Senate race, surprisingly strong margins of victory in gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey last year and an overall shift in most elections’ margins towards the party in House elections they’ve lost in red districts.

The Democratic Congressional Committee took a premature victory lap, congratulating Lamb on his “incredible victory” shortly before midnight.

“These results should terrify Republicans,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) said in the statement.

But Saccone wasn’t ready to concede, telling supporters around the same time that “We’re going to fight all the way into the end.”

“This race is too close to call and we’re ready to ensure that every legal vote is counted. Once they are, we’re confident Rick Saccone will be the newest Republican member of Congress,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Matt Gorman.

Republicans did all they could to stave off a loss in the district. President Trump visited twice, campaigning for Saccone as recently as Saturday, and a bevy of administration officials including Vice President Mike Pence and adviser Kellyanne Conway swung by to help him as well. The NRCC, the Congressional Leadership Fund super-PAC and other GOP groups combined to spend more than $10 million on the race. But their efforts appear to have fallen just short.

Compounding Republicans’ concerns: The CLF spent millions on TV ads to try to make Lamb pay for his opposition to the GOP tax overhaul, testing a line of attack they’d been planning to make a major part of their 2018 argument. Those ads didn’t seem to move the needle much, as the group moved onto more culture war-focused attacks in the race’s final two weeks as they looked to dent Lamb’s tough-on-crime reputation.

National Democrats largely worked to keep their help below the radar, with the exception of a visit from former Vice President Joe Biden.

The huge effort from both parties comes even though this district won’t exist after this year. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted a new congressional map for the November election, and Lamb is expected to run against Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) in a new district that leans a bit Republican but not nearly as heavily as the one Lamb just won, while Saccone may run in a new more conservative district that overlaps with much of the current one. The deadline for filing for the 2018 fall elections is just a week away in Pennsylvania, so both candidates may have to file for the next race before they know for sure who will be heading to Congress for the next nine months.

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