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House Intelligence Committee Republicans are planning to build a physical wall to separate Democrat and Republican staffers, according to committee sources who spoke with CBS News.

The wall is reportedly being constructed sometime this spring, CBS reported.

The push for a wall is reportedly the result of an erosion of trust among staffers, according to Republican committee members who spoke to CBS. One of the Republicans who spoke with CBS, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), said the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating the committee’s Republican staffers over alleged leaks, which could be a source of the tension, he said.

Another Republican member who spoke with CBS suggested the idea may have been spurred on by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

The panel’s ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told TPM through the committee’s minority spokesperson that the wall would be a “terrible mistake.” 

“We have heard reports that the chairman may seek to erect a ‘wall’ to divide the staff of the intelligence committee on a partisan basis — this would be a terrible mistake,” Schiff said. “While we have more than our share of difficulties, the important oversight work of the committee continues with our staff working together irrespective of party. This would be a very destructive decision.”

A spokesperson for the majority could not be reached Thursday.

The reported plans to build a physical barrier between majority and minority staffers follows an ongoing partisan rift between members of panel. That divide was laid bare last week by the release of Nunes’ partisan memo that purports to show the FBI abused the FISA system to secure a warrant to extend surveillance of a President Donald Trump campaign aide.

House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted to release the memo last Monday, which Trump declassified on Friday, but the committee stalled on a vote to release Democratic members’ counter-memo. The committee voted to release the Democrats’ memo early this week, but the White House is still mulling whether to declassify it.   

Democrats claim their memo will push back against central allegations of the Republicans’ memo.

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The multiple accusations of domestic violence against White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter are shocking in and of themselves, and reason enough for Porter to be nowhere near the White House.

But there’s another concern, which we’re going to be following closely: Porter’s vulnerability to blackmail. In other words, this story isn’t just about the White House coddling an abuser — or about “political malpractice,” as cable news is sometimes framing it. It’s also a national security issue.

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In a press conference Thursday morning, about 14 hours before a potential government shutdown, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated that she plans to vote against the budget bill when it comes back to the lower chamber Thursday afternoon. But when pressed by reporters on whether she will whip her Democratic caucus to vote against the bill, which would imperil its passage, she demurred, saying only that she has told them she personally will vote no even though she views it as “a good bill.”

A few hours later, however, an aide for Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirmed to TPM that leadership is whipping its members against the bill, blasting out an e-mail noting that the deal “fails to provide a path forward on protecting DREAMers” and asking if they will oppose the legislation. The bill, however, is still expected to pass with a mix of Democratic and Republican votes.

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Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) is still in John Kelly’s corner.

Amid reports that White House chief of staff John Kelly kept Rob Porter on as staff secretary, despite knowing about allegations of domestic abuse from Porter’s ex-wives, Kennedy stood by Kelly as a “good man.” Kennedy, however, admitted  that it appears Kelly made a “bad decision.”

“I think Gen. Kelly has done an extraordinary job as chief of staff to President Trump. I think he’s a good man. And sometimes good people make bad decisions. It doesn’t mean they are bad people. It means their human,” Kennedy said on CNN when asked about the reports on Kelly’s knowledge. “I’ve got full confidence in Gen. Kelly.”

Asked if he believed Kelly made a “bad decision,” Kennedy replied, “Yes,” and again stressed that it does not make Kelly a “bad person.”

Though Kennedy maintained that Kelly is a good chief of staff despite reports that he tried to keep Porter on amid domestic abuse allegations, Kennedy had harsher words for Porter himself.

“They are allegations. They appear to be the truth. If they’re not, I’ll come back and apologize. If you want to serve the public, particularly as a member of a President’s staff, I don’t care who you are, even if you are a Rhodes scholar, you can’t beat the hell out of your spouse. It’s wrong,” Kennedy said when asked about the allegations against Porter. “And if it happened — and there are serious allegations, some honestly believe that it did happen — then Mr. Porter did the right thing.”

Porter announced Wednesday that he would resign from his role as staff secretary in the White House following reports on his ex-wives’ allegations of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. When the allegations first surfaced publicly on Tuesday, the Trump administration stood by Porter and circulated statements defending his character, including one from Kelly. The chief of staff reportedly pushed Porter to stay on despite the public allegations at first.

When more reporting surfaced Wednesday, Porter said he would resign. It was not until Wednesday night that Kelly issued a revised statement saying that he was “shocked” by the allegations and condemning domestic abuse.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter beat Wall Street’s cautious expectations with its first quarterly profit in history, but that isn’t going to solve the company’s broader problems any time soon.

The company isn’t alone in dealing with abuse, fake accounts and attempts by Russian agents to spread misinformation. But with its troubles compounded by a revolving door of executives and stagnant user growth, Twitter has been facing questions about just who’s minding the store. Every time Twitter tries to respond to a problem, it’s either not good enough, or some other problem emerges.

“They are playing whack-a-mole with these problems,” said Michael Connor, whose Open Mic group helps investors push tech companies to address privacy, abuse and other issues. “They say they have the problem under control, but they don’t know what the problem is exactly.”

User growth has stagnated at Twitter, even as President Donald Trump’s no-holds barred tweets have attracted plenty of attention to it from around the world. Twitter faces stiff competition for people’s attention from much bigger and more established rivals like Facebook along with younger services such as Snapchat and Instagram.

On Thursday, the company said it had an average of 330 million monthly active users in the final three months of last year, unchanged from the previous quarter and below Wall Street’s estimate of 333 million.

In some good news, the company grew revenue by 2 percent to $732 million, above the $687 million that analysts polled by FactSet were expecting. Its net income — a first in the company’s nearly 12-year history — was $91 million, or 12 cents per share. Adjusted earnings were 19 cents, above analysts’ expectations of 14 cents. The company’s stock jumped 25 percent in pre-market trading.

The quarter “was a breath of fresh air for investors that have patiently awaited for this turnaround story to manifest after years of pain,” said Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights.

Nonetheless, Twitter has big challenges ahead. Connor said that while investors don’t want to micromanage Twitter, they at least want the company “to show that there is a level of management and governance on the senior level in place willing to address these issues.”

Like Google and Facebook, Twitter sent executives to exhaustive congressional hearingslast fall to talk about how Russia used social media services to meddle with the presidential elections. And in a separate hearing, terrorism expert Clint Watts said Google and Facebook are ahead of Twitter in weeding out extremist content. He said that’s because Twitter relies too much on technology and not enough on threat intelligence and coordination with outside experts and officials.

Twitter has also been dealing with hateful comments from white supremacists and other abusive users. The company has enacted a slew of new policies, but enforcing them will be a bigger hurdle .

Connor’s group recently helped two large Twitter and Facebook shareholders file resolutions asking the companies to take more responsibility for fake news, abuse and hate speech. The shareholders also want more information about how widespread the problems are and how the companies deal with them. The companies have not formally responded, though Twitter has introduced a slew of new measures to weed out abusive account and has said that it “cares deeply” about misinformation and its harmful effect on civic discourse.

Then there’s the issue of automated accounts made to look like real people. In the days after a New York Times report on the “shadowy global marketplace” of brands and celebrities buying fake retweets and followers, prominent Twitter users collectively lost more than a million followers, suggesting that Twitter either didn’t know or didn’t act until the expose.

Fake accounts aren’t a new problem for Twitter. Last June, Twitter said it has been “doubling down” on its efforts to weed out such accounts by “expanding our team and resources, and building new tools and processes.” It estimates that less than 5 percent of monthly active users are fake. But the Times referenced a report saying it could be as high as 15 percent.

One chief problem: more fake accounts keep popping up, and those behind them are getting smarter, so Twitter’s countermeasures haven’t made much of a dent.

Forrester Research analyst Erna Alfred Liousas said that while rival social networks such as Facebook deal with fake accounts, too, it may be “more elevated for Twitter” because there has been so much focus on its monthly user numbers. Anything that could jeopardize advertisers’ ability to see how many people they will reach, she said, “is going to cause concern.”

Twitter’s problem is exasperated by the fact that it is much smaller than Facebook and Google. Plus, Twitter is not doing as well financially, which can cause investors to give it less leeway on other problems.

Last month, Chief Operating Officer Anthony Noto announced his resignation from the company following Thursday’s earnings report. Noto, who was also finance chief until last July, has served an influential and important role at the company and had led its venture into live video. Twitter hasn’t replaced Noto, saying only that it would split his duties between “executives.”

“Now (that) he’s gone, who’s running the company?” Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said.

Technically, that’s CEO Jack Dorsey. But Dorsey splits his time as head of payments company Square.

Twitter has “less than Jack’s undivided attention,” Pachter said, adding that nonetheless Dorsey runs the company with a “benevolent autocracy” that leaves little room for innovation.

By contrast, Pachter said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “is not afraid if they alter his baby, his invention, to make it better,” even if in the end Zuckerberg may be the final arbiter.

Twitter declined to comment. But Dorsey said at a conference late last year that it’s “not about the amount of time I spend at one thing but how I spend the time and what we’re focused on.”

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Jurors convicted an Oklahoma man of murder and hate crime charges Wednesday for fatally shooting his Lebanese neighbor after bombarding him with racial and anti-Muslim insults in a long-running feud with his family, who are Christian.

Stanley Vernon Majors, 63, was found guilty in the August 2016 shooting death of Khalid Jabara, 37, outside his Tulsa home. Majors also was convicted of threatening an act of violence. Jurors deliberated for nearly 2 ½ hours before returning the verdict.

Prosecutors said Majors spent years in conflict with the Jabara family, often hurling racial and religious epithets at his next-door neighbors.

“Today is vindication for this family,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler told The Associated Press after the verdict. “It has certainly been an issue that’s … exposed an ugly but real segment of the population whose prejudice oftentimes dictates their actions toward other human beings.”

Kunzweiler also called on state lawmakers to stiffen penalties for committing a hate crime, which is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma.

A spokeswoman for the Jabaras said she didn’t know if family members would immediately comment on Wednesday’s verdict.

The conflict between the neighbors escalated to the point where the victim’s mother, Haifa Jabara, obtained a protective order in 2013 that required Majors to stay 300 yards (275 meters) away and prohibited him from possessing any firearms until 2018.

But prosecutors said Majors, who also had a 2009 felony conviction from California for threatening a crime with intent to terrorize, was undeterred.

Despite the court order, Majors was accused of plowing his car into Haifa Jabara in 2015. She suffered a broken shoulder, among other injuries. Authorities said Majors kept driving after he struck her. Officers who stopped him later reported that he was intoxicated.

While awaiting trial on assault and battery charges, a judge freed Majors from jail on $60,000 bond, overruling strong objections by Tulsa County prosecutors, who called him “a substantial risk to the public” and pleaded with the court to set a higher bond of $300,000.

Authorities said Majors shot Khalid Jabara on his own front porch while out on bond.

Majors’ conflict with the Jabara family also put him at odds with his late husband, Stephen Schmauss, who came to befriend Khalid and thought of him as an apprentice, teaching him how to use power tools and computer circuitry.

Schmauss told the AP in 2016 that his husband was “textbook bipolar” and a diabetic who refused to take any medication. Schmauss said then that anything Majors said to the Jabara family was “done under the bipolar situation.”

Khalid Jabara’s slaying drew national attention, including a mention from then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said her “heart breaks” for Jabara’s loved ones.

Jury selection for Majors’ trial began Jan. 22. He had previously undergone a mental competency examination and been found competent to stand trial.

But defense attorneys had argued in court papers that Majors showed signs of dementia and appeared to have problems with his long-term memory — issues that they said interfered with their ability to prepare a defense.

Tulsa County Chief Public Defender Corbin Brewster said after the verdict that it was “undeniable Majors was suffering from a serious mental illness.”

Majors will be sentenced later.

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Good morning. Today’s the day we could see another government shutdown.

It looks nearly certain that the budget deal will sail through the Senate, which votes at 11:30 a.m. It will be a much heavier lift in the House. The House Freedom Caucus is against the agreement — the hardline conservative group opposes any and all domestic spending hikes, though they support the large increase in military funding. That means, Alice Ollstein reports, that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will need Democrats’ votes to get the legislation across the finish line. Democrats want Ryan to promise to hold a vote on DACA — as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has done in the Senate — but Ryan has so far refused to do so. The question today is how many Democrats will cave and vote for the bill anyway. The Democrats’ riled-up progressive base is watching closely, waiting to see if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) eight-hour speech yesterday will be followed by real action, or whether it was simply a stunt. The government will shut down at midnight if they can’t reach a deal.

Here’s what else we’re watching today.

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Arthur Jones, the GOP candidate running for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, on Thursday claimed that he’s not a Nazi but defended his belief that the Holocaust is “an international extortion racket by the Jews to bleed, blackmail, distort and terrorize our enemies.”

Well, I do not belong to any formal national socialist organization anymore and I haven’t belonged to one since about 1990. Okay?” Jones, who has been denounced by both the state and national Republican party, said on CNN’s “New Day” during an interview with Alisyn Camerota.

Camerota argued that Jones could “call it whatever you want” but his actions speak for themselves.

“You’ve been part of anti-Semitic groups since the 1970s, you go to neo-Nazi rallies, we have pictures of you there,” she said. “You were part of the White People’s Party, you dress in Nazi garb and you celebrate Hitler’s birthday. You’re a Nazi.”

She also told Jones that his website, which also features Holocaust denials, was filled with the most “vile, rancid rhetoric I think I’ve ever seen.”

Jones pushed back throughout the interview, saying he shouldn’t be blamed that other people don’t know the “truth.”

“You Jews media, you’ve gone absolutely nuts. You think that Adolf Hitler’s revived from the grave or something,” he said. “It’s one man, myself, that is standing for the truth and the news media can’t stand that. The Democrats and Republicans, it is a cursed two-party, Jew-party, queer-party system and I can’t stand it.”

Jones is the only Republican running a primary campaign for Illinois’ third congressional district, which is heavily Democratic and stretches from Chicago’s southwest side to the suburbs of LaGrange.

Watch the interview with CNN below:

 

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Following reports that President Donald Trump has asked for a military parade, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on Wednesday offered a succinct explanation as to why that show of force is completely unnecessary.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly good idea. Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud,” he told ABC News.

“When you’re the most powerful nation in all of human history, you don’t have to show it off, like Russia does, and North Korea, and China,” Kennedy continued. “And we are the most powerful nation in all of human history. Everyone knows that, and there’s no need to broadcast it. I think we would show our confidence by remaining silent, and not doing something like that.”

Trump reportedly asked Pentagon officials in January to put on a military parade, possibly to celebrate Memorial Day, July 4, or Veterans Day. The President enjoyed the parade he say in France on Bastille Day, and he asked for a parade similar to that put on in France, according to the Washington Post.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the administration is “putting together some options” when asked Wednesday whether there would be a parade. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also stressed that the administration had not amde a final decision.

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Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday claimed that an American reporter’s story about an openly gay U.S. Olympic athlete who refused to meet with Pence was “fake news” deployed to “sow seeds of division.”

“One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old nonstory to sow seeds of division,” Pence, who is in South Korea leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics this week, tweeted early Thursday.

He tweeted directly at U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, “We are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you.”

USA Today reporter Christine Brennan profiled Rippon last month and reported in a follow-up story on Wednesday that Pence reached out to Rippon after the January profile ran to arrange a meeting, but that Rippon declined.

Pence’s press shop pushed back on those reports, and his spokesperson Alyssa Farah told USA Today that Rippon’s “accusation is totally false” and has “no basis in fact.”

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Brennan said that she stands by her reporting.

In the January profile, Rippon was vocally critical of Pence’s selection to lead the U.S. delegation and cited Pence’s stance on LGBT rights.

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon said in January.

When Pence was governor of Indiana, he signed into law the Religious Freedom Act, a controversial piece of legislation that allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers if it interfered with their religious beliefs.

In 2000, Pence’s congressional campaign website included a call for resources to be “directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” language that was widely interpreted as a reference to conversion therapy, though Pence’s spokesperson in 2016 denied that it was.

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