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March 20, 2017

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers testified in public before the House Intelligence Committee on President Trump's possible ties to Russia, and it didn't go well for Trump. Comey publicly acknowledged, for example, that the FBI is investigating Trump's team and whether it colluded with Russia to sway the election. "That is a huge, huge deal, and yet only 60 days into this administration, you hear that and you're, like, meh," Meyers said. "At this point Melania would have to take Trump on a high-speed chase in a Ford Bronco for us to say, 'This is unexpected! This is a twist I didn't see coming!'"

The Republicans on the committee appeared underwhelmed, too, "eager to focus on literally anything else," Meyers noted. Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), for example, asked Rogers if Russia had tampered with the vote tally in certain states, "an allegation no serious person has made or is concerned about at all," and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) tried to use a "very confusing college football analogy" to question the FBI's belief that Russia wanted Trump to win, and failed. "There's nothing better than watching someone dumb it down with a sports analogy and then lose the thread of that dumb sports analogy," Meyers said.

The other big news from the hearing is that Comey swatted down the idea that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump, and Rogers said Britain's GCHQ didn't, either. "There you have it America," Meyers said, "you can either trust the head of the National Security Agency or the guy who thinks 'tap' is spelled with two Ps."

Meyers also rolled his eyes at Trump's ice-cold meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, and Trump's new suggestion that he will hold meetings at Mar-a-Lago because it's more convenient for everyone. "It's not convenient," Meyers said. "Everyone else works in Washington, D.C. You're the only one with a private club in Florida that you can get to via Air Force One." Trump has also adopted a new, worrisome nickname for that club, he added: "So why has he started calling it the Southern White House and stopped calling it the Winter White House? Because he's going to be there year-round, motherf—ers! Sorry, I'm sorry, I feel bad now. I shouldn't say that. I should say: He's gonna be there year-round, taxpayers!" Watch below. Peter Weber

2:51 a.m. ET
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

This week, the Trump White House and Republican-led Congress plan to dust themselves off from a bruising self-defeat on a GOP health-care bill and begin work on reforming the tax code, something that hasn't been done in some 30 years. The failure of the health-care plan will likely curb the ambition of the tax overhaul, for both political and reasons and because of their decision to use the filibuster-proof Senate budget reconciliation process. "They have to have a victory here," Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation economist and Trump adviser, tells The New York Times. "But it is going to have to be a bit less ambitious rather than going for the big bang."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his lieutenants have been working on a tax plan since at least last summer, but it's not clear that, after the health-care debacle, the White House will follow Ryan's lead this time. One positive sign for Ryan is that the deficit haws on the House Freedom Caucus, which helped sink the health-care bill, have expressed flexibility in accepting tax cuts that are not offset by spending cuts or some rise in revenue.

Before they embark on tax reform, however, Republicans have to pass a new spending bill, or risk a government shutdown. The big political fight is expected to be over the insistence by House conservatives to include defunding Planned Parenthood in the spending bill, a nonstarter in the Senate. The current government spending resolution expires April 28. Peter Weber

2:04 a.m. ET

Russians turned out on Sunday for anti-corruption demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and about 100 other cities throughout Russia, in the biggest show of force since a wave of anti-government demonstrations in 2011 and 2012. Anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, whose Foundation for Fighting Corruption called for the protests after publishing information about Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's allegedly ill-gotten luxury lifestyle and properties, was one of the 500-800 people arrested in Moscow alone. There were no overall numbers of arrests or official estimates of how many protesters turned out across Russia, and Russian state news TV channel Rossiya-24 ignored the protests completely on the evening news.

On Sunday evening, the U.S. State Department condemned the crackdown on the peaceful, unsanctioned protests. "The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law, and the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner. The department also tweeted that it "condemns detention of 100s of peaceful protesters" in Russia, calling it "an affront to democratic values."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer retweeted the State Department's condemnation, but so far President Trump has remained silent. Protests and arrests were reported in Siberian towns, the far-east port of Vladivostok, Dagestan, and large cities like Novosibirsk, Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk. You can watch CNN's report of the Moscow protest below. Peter Weber

12:58 a.m. ET

On CBS Sunday Morning, veteran TV news journalist Ted Koppel presented a 10-minute segment on the fracturing of the news media and how that has contributed to the widening, chasmic political divide in America. One of the people he spoke with was Fox News host Sean Hannity. Hannity argued that Koppel was selling the American public short in not being able to distinguish between news programs and opinion shows like Hannity. "Do you think we're bad for America?" he asked Koppel. "You think I'm bad for America?" "Yeah," Koppel said.

When Hannity looked surprised, Koppel began to explain, saying, "In the long haul I think you and all these opinion shows...." Hannity cut in and called that "sad," and amid a few more interruptions, Koppel told Hannity that "you're very good at what you do" but what he does features attracting "people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts."

Hannity hit back on Twitter later on Sunday, slamming CBS News for only showing what was probably the most interesting 2 minutes of a 45-minute interview and "daring" the network to release the entire video.

None of the other guests Koppel spoke with — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, New York Times editor Dan Baquet, and AEI scholar Norm Ornstein — complained on Twitter about their edited interviews. The whole 10 minutes is worth a watch, and you can view Koppel's report at CBS News. Peter Weber

March 26, 2017
Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

Around 70 people, including children and teachers from multiple schools, are believed to have been climbing in an area of the Nasu Osen Family Ski Resort hit by an avalanche Monday morning. Rescue efforts are underway, the Kyodo news agency said, with six people showing no vital signs and three missing. The resort is in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Catherine Garcia

March 26, 2017

Some critics of President Trump and the news media argue that political commentators have set an unusually low bar for Trump. At 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, the news division of Fox News sent out this "news alert":

In fact, Trump spent Saturday and Sunday at his golf course in Sterling, Virginia. His staff said he was in meetings, but social media posts showed he was wearing golf attire and spending time on the links. "Normally, I'd suggest that everyone cool it with the golf snark," notes Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. "We've now had four consecutive presidents who have taken endless grief every time they hit the links, and it's pretty stupid." But not only was this Trump's 13th trip to one of his golf clubs in 10 weeks in office, "like an embarrassed drunk, he's now trying to hide his golf addiction."

At The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Noah Weiland have a more substantive critique of Trump's frequent visits to Trump-branded properties, including another meal at his hotel in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night — the only restaurant he's eaten at in D.C. while president. For Trump, "it was just another weekend with a presidential-size spotlight on his family's business outlets," they write. "White House officials have said Mr. Trump goes to his clubs and restaurants because he is comfortable there, but critics increasingly argue that the visits are priceless advertising and that Mr. Trump and his family are using the presidency as a way to enrich themselves."

"It is normal for presidents to get out — and it can be a boost for small businesses across the city and the country," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, told The Times. "But with President Trump, he spends his down time as a walking advertisement for his businesses. It is a major departure from historic norm and degradation of the office."

Again, Trump had a tough week, and a few rounds of golf is a healthy way to blow off steam. But while Trump did not travel to his Florida club this weekend, and he may have spent part of his golf outings holding meetings, he clearly did not spend the "weekend working at the White House." And even if he had, outside of CNN, it's doesn't usually merit a "news alert" when somebody does his job. Peter Weber

March 26, 2017
Pool/Getty Images

South Korean prosecutors will ask a court to issue an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye, the Yonhap news agency reported Monday.

Park was impeached three months ago and removed from office by the Constitutional Court earlier this month on allegations of corruption; Park was interrogated by prosecutors last week on suspicion she let a friend covertly interfere with state affairs and worked with an imprisoned confidante to extort certain companies. Park has denied the allegations. Catherine Garcia

March 26, 2017
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Journalists from the OC Weekly newspaper say they were physically attacked during a rally to support President Trump in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday.

Before the march began, the OC Weekly reports, a few Trump supporters and opponents talked to each other and wished for peace on both sides. Not long after, a woman approached intern Frank Tristan, who told her he was part of the media, and Tristan said the woman hissed back at him, "Fake news!" By the time the march started, tensions were high. Two black counter-protesters were confronted by Trump supporters, the OC Weekly says, and one of them was punched by a person wearing brass knuckles and shouting racial slurs.

A melee soon broke out, and the OC Weekly says Tristan was punched by a Trump supporter while photographers Brian Feinzimer and Julie Leopo were swatted with flags. When an anarchist counter-protester tried to pepper spray one of the attackers, he hit Tristan and Jennifer Sterling, a march organizer who was trying to break up the fight. Around this time, the OC Weekly says, neo-Nazis arrived.

The paper posted several videos of the fracas, including one profanity-laced clip showing a supporter hurling vulgar names at counter-protesters, and OC Weekly editor-in-chief Gustavo Arellano is urging anyone who recognizes the man Tristan says threw punches to contact him with his name. Read the whole play-by-play — with cameo appearances from a "toothbrush-needing woman [who] tried to mark the faces of counter-protesters with a pen" and people inexplicably chanting "Lock her up!" — at OC Weekly. Catherine Garcia

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