What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 272: Knew what he signed up for.

1/ Trump denied telling the widow of a fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for," contradicting a Florida congresswoman who was with the woman at the time. "Basically, he said, 'Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for," Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said, recounting the conversation she heard on speakerphone. "But I guess it still hurt.' That's what he said."

Trump tweeted that the "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof)," raising questions about whether Trump tapes calls and conversations. Sarah Sanders said there is no recording of the call, adding that Wilson's conduct is "appalling and disgusting." The mother of the fallen soldier stood behind Wilson's account, saying that Trump "did disrespect" the family with his comments during the call. (Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

2/ The White House had drafted a statement of sympathy following the ambush in Niger where four Green Berets were killed. Trump never issued the statement, which was circulated to the National Security Council and Defense Department. On Monday, Trump was asked why he had not spoken publicly about the deaths. He defended himself by saying he'd written letters, and then lied that Obama and other past presidents had never or rarely called the families of troops who died. (Politico)

3/ Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 and said he would establish an online fundraiser for the family. Neither happened. The father said the White House sent a condolence letter from Trump instead. "I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest," the father said. A White House spokesperson said "the check has been sent," adding that "It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda." (Washington Post)

4/ Trump backed off his support for the bipartisan healthcare deal, tweeting he could never support legislation "bailing out" insurance companies "who have made a fortune" from Obamacare. The comment comes a day after Trump embraced the deal as "a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period." The chairman of the Senate health committee said Trump "completely engineered the plan" to fund subsidies for health insurers, but "wants to reserve his options." (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

5/ Paul Ryan does not support the Alexander-Murray healthcare bill. Ryan's press secretary said "The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare." (Axios)

6/ A second federal judge blocked Trump's latest travel ban attempt citing Trump's tweets as evidence the policy carries the same intent as his Muslim ban proposal. The Maryland judge granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against the latest iteration of the travel ban, following a similar order by a federal judge in Hawaii. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang said the administration had "not shown that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented eight-country travel ban." (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Trump tweeted that James Comey had prematurely exonerated Hillary Clinton "long before [the] investigation was complete" into her private email use. The FBI released emails that indicate Comey had drafted a statement about ending the investigation two months before he announced he would not to seek charges. "Wow, FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete," Trump tweeted. "James Comey lied and leaked and totally protected Hillary Clinton." (Washington Post / Associated Press)

8/ Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and defended Trump's firing of James Comey. He linked the FBI director’s dismissal to his handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation. Sessions refused to discuss private conversations he had with Trump that led up to Comey’s firing. The attorney general also said he hasn't been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, yet. (Associated Press)

9/ Democrats asked the chairman of the House oversight committee to subpoena the White House for documents related to Michael Flynn and his company the Flynn Intel Group. "[T]he White House has been openly defying this Committee’s bipartisan request for documents regarding General Flynn for months without any assertion of privilege of any kind," 18 Democrats wrote in a 10-page letter to Trey Gowdy. "We believe that this paper trail must be pursued to answer the gravest questions of all — did General Flynn seek to change the course of our country’s national security to benefit the private interests he previously promoted?" A Gowdy aide said he was reviewing whether the White House’s limited response to previously inquiries was sufficient. (Politico)

10/ An exiled Russian oligarch believes Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign. "I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," Mikhail Khodorkovsky said. He added that the Russian banker Jared Kushner met with last December was not "acting on his own behalf." (NBC News)

11/ Several Republicans have called for the three congressional Russia investigations to end this year. The GOP members contend that the Democrats on a fishing expedition, which Trump has called a "witch hunt." Democrats say they don't want to rush testimony from witnesses. (CNN)

12/ A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to allow an undocumented teenager to get an abortion. The pregnant teenager, who was apprehended crossing the border from Mexico illegally last month, was being held in a federally funded shelter in South Texas where Trump administration officials had prevented the shelter from allowing her to travel to an abortion provider. The judge said she was “astounded” at the government’s position that the teen’s only options were to either carry the unwanted pregnancy to term or go back to her home country. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters believe the news media fabricates stories about Trump and his administration. 76% of Republican voters think the news media invents stories about Trump compared to 65% of Democrats who think the news media does not. (Politico)

poll/ 52% of Americans oppose Trump's recent tax reform proposal while 34% say they support the plan. The tax plan would consolidate the number of tax rates from seven to three: 12%, 25% and 35%. The plan would also increase the standard deduction, increase the child tax credit, repeal the alternative minimum tax, and drop the corporate tax rate to 20%, which could increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. (CNN)

Day 271: Half-baked nationalism.

1/ John McCain condemned Trump's "America First" policy as "half-baked, spurious nationalism" and charged that Trump would "rather find scapegoats than solve problems." McCain's remarks came as he was honored with the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center. While he didn't refer to Trump or his administration by name, McCain added that it's unpatriotic to "abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe" and to "refuse the obligations of international leadership." (CNN / Washington Post)

2/ Trump warned McCain "to be careful because at some point I fight back," adding that "I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty." McCain’s response: "I have faced tougher adversaries." (Associated Press)

3/ Trump falsely claimed that Obama didn't call the families of troops killed in the line of duty. "If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls," Trump said in response to a question about why he had not publicly acknowledged the four Green Berets killed in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago. "A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate."

Obama’s former aides were quick to respond: Eric Holder tweeted that Trump needs to "Stop the damn lying - you’re the President." And Benjamin Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser, called Trump's claim an "outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards." Trump offered no evidence to back up his claim. (New York Times / Reuters)

4/ Trump told reporters to ask John Kelly if Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan. "As far as other presidents," Trump said, "I don't know, you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama? I don't know what Obama's policy was." He added that "I really speak for myself. I am not speaking for other people. I don't know what (George W.) Bush did. I don't know what Obama did." Kelly's son died after he stepped on a landmine in 2010. (CNN)

  • A senior White House official said John Kelly "did not receive a call" from Obama after his son was killed in Afghanistan. Kelly and his wife, however, attended a 2011 White House event for Gold Star families, and sat at Michelle Obama's table. (Axios)

5/ Senators have agreed "in principle" to a bipartisan deal to fund subsidies for health insurers and stabilize insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Trump had threatened to cut off the payments which lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. The deal will fund subsidies for two years, providing short-term certainty to insurers. (New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Putin's "chef" is believed to have financed the Russian "troll factory" that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch and the main backer of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency. A declassified assessment by US intelligence concluded in January that the "likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence." It did not name Prigozhin directly. Prigozhin was at one point, allegedly, Putin's "personal chef," in addition to having catering contracts with Russia's armed forces. He also once served caviar and truffles to George W. Bush during a summit in St. Petersburg. (CNN)

7/ Sean Spicer met with Robert Mueller's team on Monday for an interview that lasted most of the day. Spicer was asked about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, his statements regarding the firing, and Trump’s meetings with Russians officials, including Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office. (Politico)

8/ The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Carter Page as part of its investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Page previously said he would not cooperate and would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions. (NBC News)

9/ The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested documents and testimony from Michael Flynn's son. They have not received a response yet. Michael G. Flynn was involved in the day-to-day operations of Flynn Intel Group and served as his father's chief of staff. The committee could issue a subpoena if he doesn’t comply, but he would likely assert his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The younger Flynn is also the subject of Robert Mueller's criminal and counterintelligence investigation. (NBC News)

  • The content ad network Outbrain is investigating whether Russian ads or other forms of election tampering took place on its service during the 2016 election. Outbrain reaches more than 550 million visitors per month via content recommendation modules on websites of publishers such as CNN, People, and ESPN. Outbrain is “currently conducting a thorough investigation specific to election tampering and continue[s] to monitor our index,” the company said in a statement. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked Trump's third attempt to implement his travel ban, which was set to go into effect Wednesday. The order was found to discriminate on the basis of nationality. Judges said the two earlier attempts were motivated by bias against Muslims. (Bloomberg / Axios)

11/ Trump's nominee for drug czar has withdrawn his name from consideration after it was reported the lawmaker guided legislation in Congress that made it harder for the DEA to act against giant drug companies. "Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," Trump tweeted. "Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!" (CBS News / Washington Post)

12/ The EPA issued new guidelines that claim higher radiation levels "usually" pose "no harmful health effects." The change is part of the EPA's "guidance" on messaging and communications in the event of a nuclear power plant meltdown or dirty bomb attack, and sets a level of acceptable radiation ten times the drinking water standard for radiation recommended under Obama. A 2007 version of the same document said that no level of radiation is safe and concluded that "the current body of scientific knowledge tells us this." (Bloomberg)

13/ Scott Pruitt directed the EPA to stop settling lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, saying the groups have had too much influence on regulation. Pruitt sued the agency he now runs more than a dozen times while he was the attorney general of Oklahoma. The practice of "sue and settle" is used by green groups to push the EPA to speed up regulation on issues such as air and water pollution, as well as climate change. (Reuters)

14/ A group of 18 Democratic attorneys general are suing Betsy DeVos over the Education Department's refusal to enforce regulation meant to protect students from predatory career college programs. DeVos froze an Obama-era rule called "gainful employment." The rule would have cut off federal financial aid funding from for-profit colleges that leave students with low incomes and massive debt. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

poll/ 46% of American believe things in the country are going well, down from 53% in August. Trump's approval stands at 37% with 57% who disapprove – almost identical to his approval rating in late September. (CNN)

Day 270: Season of war.

1/ Mitch McConnell and Trump met for lunch today after Steve Bannon called for a "season of war" against the Senate majority leader and the rest of the GOP establishment. Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on Trump. “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off,” Bannon said. (Politico / The Guardian / CNN)

2/ After his meeting with McConnell, Trump said they are "closer than ever before." Trump also said he would try to talk Bannon out of declaring war on "some" of his primary targets saying, "I'm going to see if we can talk him out of that, because I think they're great people." (Axios / CNN)

3/ Rex Tillerson refused to answer whether he called Trump a "moron," dismissing the question as the "petty stuff" of Washington. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted that Tillerson "is wasting his time" trying to talk with North Korea, and Bob Corker charged that Trump had "publicly castrate[d]" him. "I checked," Tillerson said, "I’m fully intact." (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • The next CIA director could be Tom Cotton if Trump replaces Tillerson with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Axios)

4/ Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Reince Priebus. The former chief of staff was present for many key moments, including Trump's efforts to limit questions about Russian meddling in the election and the discussions that led to James Comey’s firing. (Washington Post)

5/ Paul Manafort's financial ties to a Russian oligarch total around $60 million over the past decade. Previously unreported documents revealed a $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. (NBC News)

6/ Trump said that Pence "wants to hang" all gay people. The comment, an apparent joke, came after a legal scholar told the two that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would legalize abortion on their own. "You see? You've wasted all this time and energy on it, and it's not going to end abortion anyway," Trump said to Pence. The conversation then turned to gay rights and Trump motioned toward Pence and said, "Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!" (The New Yorker)

  • Jeff Sessions sent a federal hate crimes lawyer to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student. Sessions has spoken out against same-sex marriage, voted against expanding federal hate crimes laws to protect transgender people, directed the Justice Department to no longer protects gay or transgender people from workplace discrimination, and reversed a policy encouraging schools to let transgender students use bathrooms that fit their gender identities. (New York Times)

7/ Trump's top allies aren't sure if he realizes his feuds with Republicans and lack of legislative wins are putting his presidency at risk. Top White House aides, lawmakers, donors, and political consultants have privately wondered if Trump grasps that losing the House next year could bring on new subpoenas, an intense focus on the Russia investigation, and possible impeachment proceedings. (CNN)

8/ Eighteen states sued the Trump administration to stop him from scrapping subsidies to insurers that help millions of low-income people pay medical expenses. Trump said he would dismantle the Affordable Care Act "step by step," which prompted Adam Schiff to tweet that "Trump is the worst President in modern history," accusing him of "deliberately undermining people’s health care out of spite." The 18 states and District of Columbia are asking the court to force Trump to make the next payment, but legal experts say they face an uphill battle in court. (Reuters / The Hill)

  • poll/ 66% think it is more important for Trump and Congress to work to improve the ACA marketplaces rather than continue their efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. (Kaiser Health Tracking Poll)

9/ Steven Mnuchin: repealing the estate tax "disproportionately helps rich people." The Treasury secretary's concession contradicts what Trump said about the estate tax last month: "To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax." (New York Times)

9/ A woman who said Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about "any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately." Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena, calling the accusations "lies, lies, lies." Trump's lawyers have sought to have the suit by the former "The Apprentice" contestant dismissed or at least delayed until he is out of office. (BuzzFeed News / NBC News)

10/ The firm behind the Trump dossier is objecting to subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee to the partners who run Fusion GPS and questioned whether Chairman Devin Nunes, who recused himself from the investigation earlier this year, was authorized to issue them. The firm claims the subpoenas violate the First Amendment and would “chill” future opposition research. A lawyer for Fusion GPS called the subpoenas "a clear abuse of power" that were "designed to obfuscate the facts and conjure up rank conspiracy theories at the behest of the president and his most obsequious allies in Congress." (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump will declare a national opioid crisis next week and will be "looking into" his drug czar nominee after it was reported that Tom Marino helped guide legislation that weakened the DEA's ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continued to rise. The law makes it very difficult for the DEA to stop suspicious drug distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists who sell narcotics to the black market. The drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans believe the current reforms being discussed would favor the rich, while 18% think they would favor the middle class and 19% feel the changes would treat all equally. (CBS News)

Day 267: Imploding broken mess.

1/ Trump will cut off essential subsidy payments to Affordable Care Act insurers. The subsidies are used to pay out-of-pocket costs for low-income people and represent an estimated $7 billion this year. A White House statement directed Congress to "repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people" because "the government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments." Trump said the ACA was "imploding" and called it a "broken mess" in a pair of tweets. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi responded, saying Trump had “apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system.” Nearly 6 million enrollees qualify for the cost-sharing payments this year. (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Insurers pushed back against Trump's decision to cut the ACA's cost-sharing reduction subsidies. “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted,” the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a joint statement. “These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences." (The Hill)

3/ New York and California threatened to sue the Trump administration over health care subsidies the White House said it would cut off. "Again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. He added that Trump is using people as "political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost." (The Hill)

4/ Trump will not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, but won't immediately withdraw from the 2015 accord. Trump put the onus on Congress to amend the law and establish “trigger points,” which could be used to impose new sanctions on Iran to address continued ballistic missile development, alleged support for terrorist groups in Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, and more. Trump threatened to terminate the deal if Congress is not able to reach a solution. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ The background check chief said he has "never seen [the] level of mistakes" Jared Kushner made on his security clearance application. Kushner's initial SF-86 form did not mention any foreign contacts. He updated the form in the spring, listing about 100 contacts, but omitted the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort. He updated the SF-86 forms once more in June to include that meeting. (CNN)

6/ Twitter's privacy policy required it to delete data relevant to the Russia probe. Whenever a user removes a tweet, promotion, or account, Twitter is obligated to also delete that data from its servers. Because Russian operatives immediately erase all of their digital footprint, a substantial amount of valuable information held by Twitter has been lost. Twitter engineers are trying to determine what data is recoverable. (Politico)

7/ Facebook removed thousands of posts from public view that were linked to the Russian disinformation campaign. The data was deleted a day after researcher Jonathan Albright published a report showing that the reach of the Russian campaign was at least twice what Facebook had said. Facebook claimed it simply fixed a "bug," which allowed researchers to access cached information from inactive Facebook Pages. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump nominated a climate change skeptic to lead the White House’s environmental policy board. While a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Kathleen Hartnett White led a project to "explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels." She's written that carbon dioxide is the gas "that makes life possible on the earth and naturally fertilizes plant growth" and that "global warming alarmists are misleading the public about carbon dioxide emissions." She's called the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives a "deluded and illegitimate battle against climate change." Her TPPF fellowship received funding from the fossil fuel industry. (The Hill)

9/ Trump will extend the March 5th DACA deadline if Congress fails to pass legislation before then. Trump told Senator James Lankford that he was willing to “give it some more time” to allow lawmakers to find a solution for "dreamers." There are currently 690,000 young people with DACA status. (Washington Post)

10/ The Pentagon and FEMA accidentally included a reporter on their email chain about how to "spin" the Puerto Rico recovery effort. They suggested saying 'the federal government’s full attention is on Hurricane Maria response' to combat what San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz characterized as a 'people-are-dying story.'" FEMA was told to stress its success in reaching "all municipalities in Puerto Rico" in response to Trump attacking the San Juan mayor for "poor leadership ability." (Bloomberg)

quotables/ A selection of quotes from Trump's speech at the Values Voter Summit:

  • My presidency is "substantially ahead of schedule" and he is making "tremendous strides" against ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, tax reform, and repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Politico)

  • I'm "returning moral clarity to our view of the world" and ending "attacks on Judeo-Christian values." (CNN)

  • It's almost Christmas but "people don’t talk about [it] anymore. They don’t use the word Christmas because it’s not politically correct […] well guess what? We’re saying merry Christmas again." (The Hill)

Day 266: Trump Vs. Everybody.

1/ Trump signed an executive order eliminating some Affordable Care Act insurance rules for small businesses that band together to buy health insurance as an association. The order will also lift limits on limited coverage, short-term insurance, and expand ways workers could use employer-funded accounts to buy their own insurance policies. Critics say that by relaxing standards, Trump would be creating low-cost insurance options for healthier, younger consumers, which would result in higher costs for the sick and potentially destabilize and undermine the ACA insurance marketplace. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • How Trump’s executive order undermines the Affordable Care Act. Trump is asking federal agencies to look for ways to expand the use of association health plans, groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance, and to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s rules. (Vox)

2/ Trump on NAFTA: "We’ll see what happens." Justin Trudeau visited the White House yesterday in hopes of seeking a “fairer trade” deal between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The US Chamber of Commerce president said that abandoning the agreement would pose an “existential threat” to the continent’s national and economic security. Trudeau told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that he was worried about “poison pills,” proposals the US might make that were designed to kill, not repair, the NAFTA agreement. Trump has called NAFTA a "disaster" and that "NAFTA will have to be terminated if we’re going to make it good. Otherwise, I believe you can’t negotiate a good deal." (Washington Post)

3/ European allies and Republicans are pressuring Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. Trump is expected to decertify the nuclear deal tomorrow, despite his own cabinet saying that Iran has abided by the deal. Lawmakers have remained largely in the dark about what Trump's ultimate plan is. Congress, however, will have 60 days to pass legislation to reimpose sanctions on Iran if Trump decertifies the deal. Trump was reportedly "incensed" by the arguments Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis made when he certified Iran's compliance in July. “He threw a fit,” said one person familiar with the meeting. “. . . He was furious. Really furious. It’s clear he felt jammed.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

4/ The US withdrew from UNESCO, citing anti-Israeli bias from the United Nations cultural organization. The US hasn’t paid its roughly $70 million yearly dues to UNESCO since 2011, due to a 1990s-era amendment mandating a cutoff of American money to any UN organization accepting Palestine as a full member. Previously, the US withdrew from the organization in 1984 over Cold War concerns, but rejoined in 2003 in a show of international cooperation leading up to the Iraq War. (Bloomberg / Politico) / New York Times)

5/ Trump tweeted that "we cannot keep" federal relief workers in Puerto Rico "forever." As of earlier this week, 84% of the island remained without electricity, two-thirds of cellphone towers were down, and about 6,000 people were still in shelters. Trump tweeted the situation represents a "total lack of accountability" and that the "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ The House passed $36.5 billion in emergency relief for Puerto Rico and other communities affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires. The package includes $18.7 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt, and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico. The bipartisan bill passed the Republican-controlled House in a 353-to-69 vote. (Reuters / The Hill)

7/ John Kelly told reporters "I'm not quitting today… I don't think I'm being fired today," either. The statement comes as Trump and Kelly have reportedly engaged in “shouting matches” recently. Kelly added that "I'm not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving." On Tuesday, Trump tweeted praise for Kelly, saying his chief of staff "is doing a FANTASTIC job." (Politico / ABC News)

8/ The phrase "climate change" does not appear in the EPA's draft four-year strategic plan. Scott Pruitt outlines his agency's prioritizes as a focus on the "core mission" of clean air, land, and water, "rebalance" the federal role in environmental regulation, and enforce laws "as Congress intended." The plan does not mention carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions. (CNN)

9/ Trump’s lawyers are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller in an effort to speed up the Russia probe and dispel suspicions surrounding Trump. Trump told reporters this spring that he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about alleged Russian ties to his campaign. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, called the report that they were willing to cooperation with the special counsel “Totally false!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Politico)

Day 265: NBC = CNN

1/ Trump told his highest-ranking military leaders he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal during a July 20th meeting at the Pentagon. Shortly after the meeting ended, Rex Tillerson called Trump a "fucking moron" to the officials who remained behind. Any increase in the nuclear arsenal would break with decades of US nuclear doctrine and violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan. (NBC News)

2/ In response to the NBC News story, Trump tweeted that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for reporting what he considers fake news. “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump tweeted. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” (Politico / The Hill)

  • One of Trump’s oldest friends says the president is "better than this." Thomas Barrack Jr. said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump's rhetoric and tweets, and wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics. (Washington Post)

3/ Homeland Security is exploring how it could transform the immigration system without Congress. The possible changes could limit protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the US illegally, expand the use of quick deportation proceedings, and tighten visa programs that could limit legal immigration to the US. None of the policies have been finalized. (CNN)

4/ The Supreme Court dismissed one of the challenges to Trump’s now-expired travel ban. The justices were not ruling on the merits of the issue, but said that because the executive order “expired by its own terms” on September 24th, "the appeal no longer presents a 'live case or controversy.'" (Washington Post)

5/ Cambridge Analytica’s work for Trump’s campaign is now as part of the Russia probe. The company is in the process of turning over documents to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Steve Bannon had a stake in Cambridge Analytica worth between $1 million and $5 million as recently as April of this year. (The Daily Beast)

  • The House Intelligence Committee will publicly release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during last year’s presidential election. The committee received more than 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been purchased by Russia. (Reuters)

  • Russia hijacked Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software and turned it into a tool for spying. The software routinely scanned files looking for terms like "top secret" and classified code names of US government programs. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ North Korea hackers may have stolen joint US-South Korean military secrets, including a "decapitation strike" targeting Kim Jong Un and other leaders. The hackers broke into South Korea’s defense database in September 2016 and took a blueprint known as Operations Plan 5015, which was developed in 2015 in case war broke out with North Korea. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • North Korea targeted US electric power companies with spearphishing emails. There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful. (NBC News)

7/ Republicans and close advisers are describing Trump as “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” There’s a new level of concern that the White House is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain him. Trump reportedly vented to his security chief: “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” Meanwhile, John Kelly has tightened the flow of information and visitors, which has frustrated Trump and resulted in “shouting matches” between the two men. (Vanity Fair / Los Angeles Times)

poll/ 64% of voters support stricter gun laws, including 41% who strongly support them. 29% oppose stricter gun laws, including 16% who are in strong opposition. (Politico)

poll/ 53% of adults “strongly agree” that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher tax rates. An additional 23% “somewhat agree” the wealthiest should pay higher tax rates. (Reuters)

poll/ 55% of voters say that Trump is not fit to serve as president. 70% of voters say the president should stop tweeting from his personal account. (Quinnipiac)

Day 264: Power of the pen.

1/ Trump plans to go around Congress to provide new insurance options for Americans. The White House is finalizing an executive order, which Trump is expected to sign this week, that would expand health care plans offered by associations and allow individuals to pool together to buy insurance outside their states. “Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people – FAST,” Trump tweeted. By banding together to buy coverage, associations could join the large group insurance market, which is exempt from the ACA’s requirement that plans cover essential health benefits. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

2/ The White House blamed Bob Corker for the Twitter tiff with Trump. On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that Corker “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election. Corker replied that it's "a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Kellyanne Conway called Corker's tweet "incredibly irresponsible" with Pence defending Trump against what he called "empty rhetoric and baseless attacks."

In an interview with the New York Times, Corker said that Trump is acting "like he's doing 'The Apprentice'" and that he could set the nation "on the path to World War III." As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker could block the confirmation of a new secretary of state if Trump pushed out Rex Tillerson and would play a key role on whether to "decertify" the Iran nuclear deal. (New York Times)

3/ Trump gave Bob Corker a nickname as their feud escalates. "The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation," Trump tweeted. "Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!" The transcript of the conversation has Corker saying "I understand we're on the record. I don't like normally talking to you on the record – I'm kidding you – but I will." Labeling Corker "liddle" is a reference to the 2016 campaign, when he called Marco Rubio little. "Let me start with Little Marco. He just looked like Little Marco to me. And it's not Little. It's Liddle. L-I-D-D-L-E." The New York Times reporter disputed Trump's claim that Corker was recorded without his knowledge, tweeting that "Corker had 2 aides on line, also recording, and they made sure after it ended that I was taping, too." (CNN / The Hill / New York Times)

4/ Trump challenged Tillerson to an IQ test after the secretary of state's "moron" comment. "I think it's fake news," Trump said, "but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win." Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron" and nearly resigned this summer. (Forbes / Washington Post)

  • Mensa offered to host the IQ test for Trump and Tillerson. “American Mensa would be happy to hold a testing session for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson,” said Charles Brown, the group’s communications director. (The Hill)

5/ Scott Pruitt wants to eliminate the federal tax credits for the wind and solar power industries, saying the credits prevent utility companies from making the best decisions about power generation. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources," the EPA chief said. (The Hill / Bloomberg)

6/ Carter Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee he will not cooperate with any requests to appear and would plead the Fifth. The Trump campaign's former foreign policy adviser met with Sergey Kislyak on the sidelines of the GOP convention last year. In addition, the FBI has been monitoring Page since he travelled to Russia and met with high-level associates of Putin last year. (Politico)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the partners who run Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the dossier of memos of alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign. Chairman Devin Nunes signed off on the subpoenas that demand documents and testimony. Nunes recused himself from the House's panel earlier this year after going directly to the White House with information about “incidental” surveillance of Trump's transition team. (CNN)

8/ Trump threatened to use federal tax law to penalize NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem. "Why is the N.F.L. getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country?” Trump tweeted. “Change tax law!” In a letter to all 32 NFL teams, commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants players to stand during the anthem despite the current NFL policy not requiring players to stand. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House "would certainly support the NFL coming out and asking players to stand." (New York Times / ESPN / The Hill)

9/ Trump, meanwhile, sent a fundraising email praising Pence for walking out of an NFL football game after players kneeled. "Their stunt showed the world that they don't believe our flag is worth standing for," the email reads. "But your Vice President REFUSED to dignify their disrespect for our anthem, our flag, and the many brave soldiers who have died for their freedoms." Nearly two dozen players from the 49ers knelt during the national anthem in what is now seen as an expensive political stunt. (CNN)

10/ Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over the past 263 days. He has averaged five claims a day, even picking up pace since the six-month mark. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's approval rating has fallen in every state since he took office. A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapproved of Trump's job performance, including 55% in Michigan, 53% in Wisconsin and Iowa, and 51% in Pennsylvania. The share of Republicans who strongly approve of Trump has declined from 53% to 43% since January. 71% of Democrats strongly disapproved of Trump. (Morning Consult)