1/ U.S. intelligence agencies expect Russia to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections through hacking and social media manipulation. During testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual hearing on worldwide threats, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee: “Frankly, the United States is under attack” and that Russia will continue to engage in cyber attacks to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances.” He added: “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.” (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News)

2/ FBI Director Christopher Wray contradicted the White House’s timeline for Rob Porter, saying the Bureau’s file on Porter was closed in January 2018. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah issued a statement last week saying that Porter’s “background investigation was ongoing” and that the White House was first contacted about Porter’s clearance in July. Wray, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the FBI submitted a partial report on Porter’s clearance in March 2017 and that the investigation was completed in July. The FBI closed the file in January 2018, but received additional information in February, and “we passed that on as well.” (Axios / Washington Post / USA Today)

  • The system used to issue security clearances for top officials is “broken,” according to Dan Coats. “We have a broken system and I think everybody’s come to agree with that now.” (Associated Press)

The Porter Timeline:

  1. March 2017: The FBI submitted a “partial report” on Rob Porter to the White House.

  2. July: The FBI submitted a completed review in “late July.”

  3. November: The White House requested follow-up information from the FBI on Porter’s review.

  4. January 2018: The FBI “closed the file.”

  5. February 6th: The Daily Mail story is published, detailing Porter’s abusive marriage with his second ex-wife.

  6. February 7th: John Kelly called Porter “a man of true integrity and honor.” The Intercept published a story reporting that both of Porter’s ex-wives told the FBI that he abused them. Porter resigned, insisting that he is innocent. Kelly issued a second statement: “There is no place for domestic violence in our society.”

  7. February 8th: It’s reported Kelly knew that Porter’s permanent security clearance was on hold in “early fall” and that both of his ex-wives had made allegations against him. White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said that Porter was “terminated” shortly after the “full nature” of the allegations became clear. “In this instance, in the case of Rob Porter, we relied on the background check investigative process. That process hadn’t been completed.”

  8. February 9th: Trump addressed Porter’s resignation, wishing him well and a “wonderful career.”

  9. February 10th: Trump tweets: “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

  10. February 11th: Kellyanne Conway said that Trump was “very disturbed” by the allegations against Porter.

  11. February 12th: Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to explain why Trump hasn’t offered a statement clarifying his tweet.

  12. February 13th: FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau completed its background investigation on Porter in July 2017, responded to a follow-up request in November, and then closed its file in January 2018. The timeline contradicts the White House’s February 8th statement that the background check “process hadn’t been completed.”

3/ Rob Porter was up for a promotion despite allegations that he abused his two ex-wives. John Kelly and several other White House officials were receptive to promoting Porter. Kelly has found himself increasingly isolated in the White House as his timeline of the events surrounding Porter’s departure doesn’t align with what happened. The FBI’s “timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly coverup is unraveling right before our eyes,” a White House official said. (Politico / CNN / Axios)

4/ The Trump administration proposed replacing food stamps with a monthly “American Harvest Box,” full of government-picked, nonperishable foods. The proposal, buried in the White House fiscal 2019 budget, would include items like milk, peanut butter, canned fruits, and cereal. The administration claims the plan would save more than $129 billion over 10 years. (Politico)

  • Nancy Pelosi shared a 2015 tweet from Trump claiming that he would not cut Medicare and Medicaid after his budget proposed cuts to both programs. “There really is a tweet for everything,” Pelosi wrote. (The Hill)

5/ Trump warned Democrats that March 5 is the “last chance” to pass DACA. The deadline is the same one he announced last year, but a federal injunction temporarily blocking the plan to rescind work permits for young undocumented immigrants essentially renders the deadline meaningless. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle,” Trump tweeted. He added: “This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.” (ABC News)

6/ A second U.S. judge blocked Trump’s decision to end DACA in March while litigation plays out in the courts. The Supreme Court is due to consider whether to take up the administration’s appeal to the first ruling as Friday. (Reuters / The Hill)

poll/ Trump’s job approval climbed to 44%, compared to 53% who disapprove in a Priorities USA poll – a Democratic super PAC. In November, the same survey found Trump’s approval rating at 40%, with 54% disapproving. (McClatchy DC)


  1. Israeli police recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two corruption cases. The recommendations now go to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, who will review the material before deciding whether to file charges. Netanyahu can remain in office during that process. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  2. More than 200 Russian mercenaries were killed in a clash with U.S. forces in Syria last week. The fighters attacked a base and refinery held by the U.S. and were defeated. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the situation “perplexing,” because it’s not clear whether the attack was a rogue operation or if it was ordered by Russia. (Bloomberg)

  3. Kirsten Gillibrand pledged to stop accepting donations from corporate PACs. She joins Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Maria Cantwell who have pledged to reject corporate money. (BuzzFeed News)

  4. Of Trump’s 87 picks for federal judges, 92% are white. There is one African American and one is Hispanic nominee. (USA Today)

  5. America First: Of the 144 job openings for seasonal work from across three Trump properties, one went to a US worker. (Vox)