Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announces that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services had approved the state's waiver request for the plan his administration calls HIP 2.0 during a speech in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The latest:

Vice President Pence has hired outside legal counsel to help with both congressional committee inquiries and the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. The vice president’s office said Thursday that Pence has retained Richard Cullen, a Richmond-based lawyer and chairman of McGuire Woods who previously served as a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.

This is just astonishing. The FBI is actively investigating ties between the president’s campaign and a hostile foreign power. Ditto for his former national security adviser. The FBI director has been fired for refusing to kill the investigation. The attorney general has recused himself. The deputy attorney general has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is busily hiring experts in money laundering. A few days ago Mueller widened the scope of his inquiry to include a criminal investigation of the president. Bipartisan congressional committees are holding hearings. The president himself has lawyered up, and now the vice president has lawyered up too.

This would not be completely unprecedented if it happened in 2022, six years into Trump’s presidency. But it’s happened in Trump’s first five months. And while we’re all busy gaping at the spectacle of the whole thing, Republicans are trying to take health coverage away from millions of people so they can use the money to fund tax cuts for the rich.

In secret.

This. Is. Not. Normal. It is nowhere close to normal.

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Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

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