1/ Trump fired Rex Tillerson. CIA Director Mike Pompeo will replace Tillerson as Secretary of State. John Kelly told Tillerson that Trump wanted to replace him last Friday. Tillerson received a call from Trump more than three hours after he’d been fired. A spokesman said Tillerson “had every intention of staying” in his job and was “unaware of the reason” for his firing. Trump said the move had been considered for “a long time” and that “we were not thinking the same.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Tillerson will remain in his post until March 31st, but is delegating all authorities for running the State Department to Deputy Secretary John Sullivan.
Tillerson thanked career diplomats for their “honesty and integrity” during a press conference. He did not thank Trump or praise his policies.
The White House fired Rex Tillerson’s spokesman, Steve Goldstein, for contradicting the official administration account of Tillerson’s own firing. (CNBC)
2/ Hours before being fired, Rex Tillerson called the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter an “egregious act” that “clearly” came from Russia. He added that Russia is “an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.” On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it is “highly likely” Russia is responsible for the poisoning, either directly or because it lost control of the nerve agent. The two were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in the U.K. and were found unconscious. (NBC News)
Trump: “As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.” (Reuters)
Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead at his home in London. The Metropolitan police said there was no evidence at present to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury, where Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a critical condition. (The Guardian)
3/ Gina Haspel, currently the deputy director of the CIA, will replace Pompeo as the head of the CIA. Haspel oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and later took part in an order to destroy videotapes documenting their interrogations at a secret prison in Thailand. (New York Times)
4/ Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for financial crimes, which prevented him from obtaining a full security clearance. McEntee will rejoin Trump’s reelection campaign as a senior adviser of operations. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)
5/ Trump is considering firing Veterans Affairs chief David Shulkin and replacing him with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Shulkin has been under scrutiny over ethics concerns, including ordering the VA’s third-most-senior official to alter an email to make it appear that he was receiving an award from the Danish government so the VA could pay more than $4,300 for his wife’s airfare. (New York Times)
6/ House Intelligence Committee Republicans said their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The committee agreed with the findings of the intelligence community that Russia had interfered, but they disagreed that the Russians favored Trump. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said the Republican decision to end the investigation was “another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch,” adding: “By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly.” (New York Times / CNN)
THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
- A Russian national who was extradited to the U.S. last year over Kremlin objections pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aiding and abetting computer intrusion, admitting he operated a dark web service that helped thousands of hackers conceal malware from detection. (The Daily Beast)
7/ In the spring of 2016, Roger Stone said he learned from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that the organization had obtained the emails of John Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee. WikiLeaks released the documents in late July and October. U.S. intelligence concluded the hackers who obtained the emails were working for Russia. Stone has since denied any communication with Assange or knowledge of the document dumps by WikiLeaks. Assange and WikiLeaks have also said they never communicated with Stone. (Washington Post)
8/ A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman resigned over what he says were “false” and “misleading” statements by Justice Department officials, including Jeff Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. James Schwab said he couldn’t continue to do his job after Trump administration officials made false public statements about a key aspect of a recent Northern California sweep. (San Francisco Chronicle / Washington Post)
poll/ 42% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of North Korea, but 64% of Americans are uneasy about the situation. (CBS News)
Rick Saccone asserted that his political opponents “hate” the president, the United States, and God. The Pennsylvania Republican congressional candidate trails Democrat Conor Lamb by six percentage points heading into today’s special election for the state’s 18th congressional district. (NBC News)
Paul Manafort could spend the “rest of his life in prison,” a federal judge said. Manafort was ordered to “home incarceration” and “24-hour-a-day lockdown at his residence” while he awaits trial. (Politico)
Trump wants to impose tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese imports, targeting the technology and telecommunications sectors, as well as imposing investment restrictions in response to allegations of intellectual property theft. (Politico / Reuters)
Trump blocked Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns. Trump said “credible evidence” led him to believe that if the Singapore-based company were to acquire Qualcomm, it “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” (New York Times)
Trump has been seeking counsel on how to handle the Stormy Daniels situation. Confidants have advised Trump not to fight Daniels’ decision to break a confidentiality agreement because it would make him look guilty, which is the only reason Trump has stayed quiet on the issue and hasn’t tweeted about it. (CNN)
Trump missed the deadline to accept the return of a $130,000 settlement payment from Stormy Daniels, who had offered to return the money in exchange for the freedom to speak about her alleged affair with Trump. “Time to buckle up,” Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti said. (The Guardian)
Trump is in San Diego personally examining eight prototypes for his border wall to, as he put it, “pick the right one.” (NBC News)
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