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March 20, 2017

The House Intelligence Committee is holding a rare public hearing on Monday, with FBI Director James Comey and NSA chief Adm. Mike Rogers expected to face questions about Russia's involvement in the U.S. election, any ties between Russia and President Trump's campaign, who leaked information to the media about Trump aides' communications with Russia, and whether there is any evidence to back up Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama had his Trump Tower phones wiretapped. Comey is expected to say there is no evidence Trump's phones were tapped, but nobody is sure what other questions he will answer. Rogers is predicted to say less than Comey.

Democrats are most eager to discuss any Russian role in the election and any connections between Trump and the Kremlin, while Republicans are focused on who has been disclosing potentially classified information about Trump team members. Comey briefed lawmakers on Friday about the state of the Russian investigation and Trump's wiretapping accusations (he said no about Trump and wiretapping, and "it was a categorical denial," a U.S. official tells The Washington Post). What he told House Intelligence Committee members about Trump and Russia is apparently still up for debate.

On Fox New Sunday, committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said he has seen "no evidence of collusion" between Trump's circles and Russia to sway the election his way. But on NBC's Meet the Press, ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (Calif.) said there is already "circumstantial evidence of collusion" and "direct evidence" of "deception" by the Trump campaign, and "there is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation."

Regarding Trump's wiretapping allegations, "I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase, because what the president said was just patently false," Schiff said. "It's continuing to grow in terms of damage, and he needs to put an end to this." Peter Weber

4:09 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

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3:37 p.m. ET

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) friendship won't be ending over a difference of opinion on the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill. Shortly after McCain announced Friday that he would vote against Graham's effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Graham tweeted that he respected McCain's opinion, though he disagrees with it:

Graham proceeded to lay out his case for the bill, which he's angling for Republicans to vote on next week:

He ended his series of tweets with a vow to "press on."

Three 'no' votes would kill the bill, and McCain is the second Republican, following Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), to oppose it. Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill by a simple majority vote. Becca Stanek

3:21 p.m. ET

On any given day, Washington, D.C.'s utility company, Pepco, spends its time concerned about things like power outages and power lines — certainly not domesticated rodents. All that changed when 8-year-old Serenity wrote the company with a "firm, straightforward request" for a hamster, NBC Washington reports.

Serenity had made the understandable mistake of mixing up Pepco with Petco, the pet supply company. She promised in her letter to work extra hard at school and around the house if she could get the pet. "Lest her point be missed, at the bottom of the letter, she drew a hamster that took up half the page," NBC Washington writes.

Despite not exactly being in the hamster business, Pepco decided to surprise Serenity on Friday. Take a look at the photos below. Jeva Lange

2:58 p.m. ET

The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is reporting an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a dam failure that threatens Isabela Municipality and Quebradillas Municipality in the territory's northwest. "Buses [are] currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can," the agency reported, adding: "Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life."

The flooding follows Hurricane Maria's thrashing of the Caribbean; Puerto Rico remains completely without power, and it's expected to get as much as 35 inches of rain in some areas by Friday. Now a Category 3, Maria was packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour as it slammed the southeastern Bahamas on Friday. Jeva Lange

2:40 p.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton's forthcoming political thriller, which he co-authored with bestselling author James Patterson, is headed to the small screen, Variety reported Friday. Showtime has acquired the television rights for The President Is Missing, which won't even be published until 2018.

"Bringing The President Is Missing to Showtime is a coup of the highest order," Showtime president and CEO David Nevins told Variety. "The pairing of President Clinton with fiction's most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network."

The President Is Missing "will offer readers a unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense, and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power," according to the press release. "It will be informed by insider details that only a president can know." Learn more about the forthcoming TV show at Variety. Jeva Lange

2:24 p.m. ET

Mere minutes after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was a "no" on the Graham-Cassidy bill, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel was tweeting his thanks. Kimmel's rapid response solidified just how invested he is in stopping the GOP health-care bill, which he has been tenaciously criticizing all week.

Though McCain hasn't technically completely killed Republicans' latest attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as he did in July when he cast the deciding vote, his opposition nudges the Graham-Cassidy bill that much closer to its demise. Already, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his opposition, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday she's "leaning against" voting in favor of the bill.

Three "no" votes would kill the bill, and make Kimmel's day. Becca Stanek

2:12 p.m. ET

In the words of one confused White House official to Politico, "no one is quite sure what [Tom Price] is doing." Trump's health and human services secretary has reportedly exceeded $300,000 in chartered flights since last May, including one befuddling charge of $25,000 for a 135-mile flight from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., on a private jet.

Notably, President Trump campaigned as an enemy of wasteful government spending, even signing an order in March that required "a thorough examination of every executive department and agency, to see where money is being wasted, how services can be improved, and whether programs are truly serving American citizens," in the words of one White House official to the Washington Examiner.

Even more bewildering, Price himself has been an outspoken opponent of wasteful spending, as Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) pointed out Friday:

HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest defended Price's flights as necessary. "He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule," she told Politico, characterizing his flights on Learjets as evidence of his focus "on hearing from Americans across the country." Jeva Lange

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