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James Comey, another twist for Brexit and MLB opening day: The Morning Rundown

“The investigation had to happen. It would have been irresponsible not to investigate," James Comey told NBC News' Lester Holt.
Image: Former FBI director James Comey speaks during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington
Former FBI Director James Comey said Mueller's investigation proved "that the FBI is not corrupt, not a nest of vipers, of spies, but an honest group of people trying to find out what is true."Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

James Comey stood behind the need for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in an exclusive interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, his first since the probe ended.

We have more on Comey, the plethora of job openings in the Trump administration and a major find by a detective known as the "Indiana Jones of art."

Comey: 'The obstruction piece confuses me'

To the former FBI Director who started the Russia investigation before he was fired by President Donald Trump, the little we know about Mueller's completed investigation based on Attorney General William Barr's summary contains some good news.

The fact that the probe seems to have found that no Americans conspired with Russia to disrupt the 2016 election should be "good news no matter what party you’re associated with.”

But the longtime prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said he found the idea that Mueller would not reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice confusing.

“I’m not pre-judging it. It doesn’t make sense on its face," he said. "So I have a lot of questions.”

Democrats are considering their legal options to make sure that there is full transparency — including the possibility of subpoenaing Mueller if the Justice Department fails to release the full report.

Meantime, the federal grand jury Mueller convened is still working away. A prosecutor said yesterday it is "continuing robustly" at a court hearing about a mysterious case involving an unidentified foreign company swept up in the Russia probe.

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Help Wanted: The Trump administration is riddled with vacancies

More than two years after then-President-elect Donald Trump said he wanted his Cabinet officials to look the part, his administration is filled with actors — but probably not in the way he intended.

A large group of acting agency heads has been cast in temporary roles across the administration — in the Cabinet alone, there is an acting secretary of defense, an acting interior secretary and an acting chief of staff.

The president has yet to nominate people for nearly 140 top-level positions, which experts say is hampering his long-term goals.

"Even if somebody is a very talented individual, if you're in an acting position, you're not in as strong a position to act," said Max Stier, who runs a nonpartisan nonprofit that monitors federal government management issues.

Illustration of a Now Hiring sign where the W in Now has been spray painted over with a T to read "Not Hiring."
Matt Chase / for NBC News

May says she'll resign if her Brexit deal passes

Another day, another twist in the Brexit drama.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told members of her party on Wednesday evening that she was prepared to step down if they voted to support her contentious Brexit deal.

Her offer to resign came after months of chaos in Parliament and speculation that she would be forced out.

However, hours after the prime minister's offer, the Democratic Unionist Party signaled they would still not support the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the E.U.

Adding to the sense of chaos swirling around the Palace of Westminster, Members of Parliament also rejected eight other alternatives to the prime minister's deal.

While the divorce date has been pushed back to April 12, what happens next is anyone's guess.

Opening Day is here

Image: Baseballs, San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks
Christian Petersen / Getty Images file

Baseball fans out there need no reminder what day today is. Check out a preview of the Major League Baseball season and some predictions.


The Mexico border wall threatens wildlife habitat

The U.S. government is clearing strips of land inside sensitive wildlife habitats for endangered animals, birds and monarch butterflies as part of President Trump's promised border wall.

Science + Tech = MACH

Tidal energy pioneers see vast potential in the renewable energy resource. "Does it work? Damn right it works. We've proven that bit," says one expert at the world's leading marine energy center in Scotland.

Quote of the day

"The bedrock of the Department of Justice – which Bill Barr loves, and Robert Mueller loves and I love – is that people have faith and confidence that it’s not part of a political tribe. The only way to establish that and protect that bedrock of their confidence is to show them your work. So we have to see it here."

Former FBI Director James Comey on the need for the full release of the Mueller report.

One fun thing

A Pablo Picasso painting, stolen over 20 years ago and worth more than $28 million, has been found by a renowned Dutch art sleuth.

Since the 1938 painting “Buste de Femme” was swiped off a wealthy Saudi’s yacht in the swanky French Riviera port of Antibes in 1999, multiple forgeries had been offered to insurers and found to be fake.

But Arthur Brand, whose tireless detective work has earned him the moniker the "Indiana Jones of art," finally hunted it down two weeks ago.

He says he knew immediately that it was the real deal.

“You know it’s a Picasso because there is some magic coming off it,” Brand told The Associated Press.

Image: Dutch art detective Arthur Brand posing with stolen Picasso painting Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)
“When I saw the back of the painting, I knew it was the real one,” Brand said about the recently recovered Picasso painting, "Buste de Femme." AFP - Getty Images

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Thanks, Petra