1/ The White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser as early as next month. The move, orchestrated by John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, comes after months of strained relations between Trump and McMaster. (NBC News)

  • Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, has been on the brink of leaving the White House for months. He stayed to stop Trump from imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. One person close to Cohn said he wouldn't be surprised if Cohn left as a result of the decision. (Politico)

2/ Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of text messages between the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Russian-connected lawyer. The text messages between Senator Mark Warner and Adam Waldman, a Washington lawyer with Russian connections, were leaked to Fox News. They show that the senator tried to arrange a meeting with Christopher Steele, author of the so-called Trump dossier. Warner and Richard Burr, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, were so "perturbed" by the leak that they met with Paul Ryan to raise their concerns about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and the Republicans willingness to leak classified text messages. (New York Times)

3/ Putin warned that Russia has developed nuclear weapons that can't be intercepted by missile-defense systems and that they're planning to add nuclear-powered cruise missiles to their arsenal, which would allow them to strike any target on the globe. Putin added that Russia would consider any nuclear attack against itself or any of its allies an attack on Russia, warning that such an incident would lead to immediate retaliation. "No one listened to us," Putin warned. "Listen to us now." (Associated Press / Washington Post)

4/ Jared Kushner's family real estate business received a total of $509 million in loans from two lenders shortly after White House meetings. Chief executives from Apollo Global Management and Citigroup had multiple meetings with Kushner at the White House and, following those meetings, Kushner Companies received $184 million in loans from Apollo – triple Apollo's average loan size – and $325 million from Citigroup. Government ethics experts say the meetings and the subsequent loans are virtually unprecedented for such a high-level White House staffer. (New York Times)

  • A New York regulator asked Deutsche Bank AG and two other banks to provide information about their relationships with Jared Kushner, his family, and Kushner Companies. All three banks are chartered in New York, placing them under the regulatory eye of the state's Department of Financial Services. (Bloomberg)

  • Jared Kushner has recently started focusing on the 2020 election, leading some in the White House to wonder if he'll transition out of the West Wing to become an adviser to Trump's reelection bid. (Politico)

5/ Robert Mueller's team is looking into Trump's attempts to fire Jeff Sessions last July, in order to determine whether those alleged efforts to oust Sessions were part of a larger pattern of attempted obstruction of justice by Trump and the administration. Mueller wants to know if Trump attempted to remove Sessions in order to install a loyal attorney general who would exercise control over the special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election campaign. (Washington Post)

  • Robert Mueller is assembling criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails. The possible charges are expected to rely intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. (NBC News)

6/ The White House is reportedly "furious" over the stories about excessive spending at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Aides have been trying to manage the negative publicity, which includes Ben Carson spending $31,000 to replace a dining room set and demoting an administrative officer for refusing the spend more than the $5,000 legal limit on office decorations. Carson now wants to cancel the order for a $31,000 dining set, saying "I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered." (CNN)

7/ Trump is in favor of forgoing due process in order to confiscate guns from people who are deemed to be dangerous. "I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man's case that just took place in Florida … to go to court would have taken a long time," Trump said during a bipartisan meeting on community and school safety, interrupting Mike Pence. Trump added: "Take the guns first, go through due process second." (New York Times / The Hill)

poll/ 58% of Americans say they want to elect a Congress that stands up to Trump – not one that cooperates with him. 60% of those surveyed say they disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. (USA Today)

poll/ 57% of Americans think Trump is racist, including more than 8 in 10 blacks, three-quarters of Hispanics, and nearly half of whites. 85% of Democrats consider Trump racist versus 21% of Republicans. 57% of Americans think Trump's policies have been bad for Muslims, 56% think Trump's policies have been bad for Hispanics, and 47% think they’ve been bad for African Americans. (Associated Press)

poll/ 74% of Americans said they had a favorable view of Medicaid and 52% said it was working well. 41% believe the main reason for introducing Medicaid work requirements pushed by the Trump administration is to cut government spending. 33% believe the primary motivation is to help lift people out of poverty. (Kaiser Family Foundation / Vox)


Notables.

  1. The three top ranking officials in the Justice Department met for dinner on the same day Trump called one of them, attorney general Jeff Sessions, "disgraceful." Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the dinner was "in no way planned as pushback or an act of solidarity against the president." Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein was the third member of the party. (Axios)

  2. More than 30 Trump aides have been downgraded to lower-level "secret" interim security clearances. None have been asked to leave the administration. Their portfolios on top secret matters will be distributed to other staff members. (Bloomberg)

  3. The U.S. will impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminum. Trump is expected to sign a formal order next week. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

  4. The Dow closed 420 points lower after Trump said the U.S. will implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports next week. Before the announcement, the Dow was up more than 150 points. (CNBC)

  5. Melania Trump was granted a green card in 2001 under a program reserved for those with "extraordinary ability" and "sustained national and international acclaim." The EB-1 visa program was created for renowned academic researchers, Olympic athletes, and award-winning entertainers. Melania worked as a Slovenian model, appearing in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated. (Washington Post / Axios)

  6. Somebody forged a nomination of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize – twice. While identities of the candidates are kept secret, the committee announced that it had uncovered what appeared to be a forged nomination of Trump for the prize. A forged nomination of Trump was also submitted last year. (New York Times)

  7. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin blocked UCLA from releasing a video of him being heckled by students during a lecture and moderated discussion. The official video footage has not been posted because Mnuchin revoked his consent for it to be released. (New York Times)

  8. John Kelly joked (?) that his job at the White House is a punishment from God. Speaking at an event in Washington honoring former leaders of the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly said he didn't want to leave his job running the department, adding, "but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess." (ABC News)