Day 427: Another one bites the dust.
1/ Trump’s lead attorney dealing with the special counsel investigation resigned. John Dowd’s departure comes days after Trump called for an end to Robert Mueller’s inquiry and days after Dowd said the investigation should end, initially claiming he was speaking for Trump before saying he was only speaking for himself. Trump’s attorneys are in negotiations with the special counsel’s team over a potential interview with Trump. It is not clear who will take over the president’s legal team. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
2/ Trump: “Yes, I would like to” testify before Robert Mueller. His comment came shortly after John Dowd resigned from his personal legal team. (CBS News / CNN)
3/ Mueller’s team has discussed four main topics with Trump’s lawyers for a potential Trump interview. Specifically, the special counsel wants to know about Trump’s role in crafting a statement aboard Air Force One about Trump Jr.‘s June 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower; the circumstances surrounding the Trump Tower meeting; and the firings of James Comey and Michael Flynn. Mueller’s team is also looking at connections between Trump’s campaign and Cambridge Analytica and how the data firm collected and utilized voter data in battleground states. (CNN / Associated Press)
- House Democrats are attempting to force a vote on a bill that would protect Robert Mueller in the event that Trump tries to fire the special counsel. Steve Cohen, a member of the House Ethics Committee, filed a petition to call for a vote on a bill called the Special Counsel Integrity Act, which would prevent anyone from firing Mueller without just cause. “Recent events particularly concern me,” Cohen wrote in a statement, “because it seems the President fears that Mueller is close to revealing findings relevant to his mandate and that ending the investigation is the only way to prevent its public release.” (The Hill)
4/ Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, concluding that the evidence failed to amount to collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. (Politico)
5/ The House passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September. The budget boosts military and domestic spending, and includes $1.6 billion for more than 90 miles of physical barriers along the border with Mexico. The bill provides no resolution for DACA. The Senate will now need unanimous consent from all members to waive procedural rules in order to vote before the Friday midnight deadline when government funding is set to expire. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)
- Congress rejected Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s school choice agenda and her attempt to spend more than $1 billion on promoting choice-friendly policies and private school vouchers. DeVos had sought to cut Education Department funding by $3.6 billion — about 5%. (Washington Post)
6/ Trump signed an executive memorandum to impose about $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, saying “this is the first of many.” The Trump administration said the tariffs are designed to penalize China for trade practices that involve stealing American companies’ intellectual property. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer now has 15-days to come up with a proposed list of products that will face higher tariffs. The White House granted exemptions to American allies from steel and aluminum tariffs that go into effect on Friday, including the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times)
The Dow dropped 724.42 points to close at 23,957.89 over concerns from investors about Trump’s tariffs on China and the threat of a global trade war. Earlier in the session, the Dow dropped more than 500 points. (CNN Money / CNBC / Bloomberg)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he doesn’t think this will be the start of a trade war with China, but he does expect that “there will be some ultimate retaliation.” (CNBC)
7/ Jeff Sessions wants prosecutors to seek the death penalty in drug-related cases whenever it’s “appropriate.” The move comes less than a week after Trump called for the execution of opioid dealers and traffickers. “In the face of all of this death, we cannot continue with business as usual,” Sessions wrote in a memo to U.S. Attorneys offices. (Reuters)
8/ Trump tweeted that he would beat Joe Biden in a fight in response to Biden’s suggestion that he would “beat the hell out of” Trump if they were in high school together. “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy,” Trump tweeted. “Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!” (CNN)
Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
poll/ 28% of Americans have a favorable view of Robert Mueller, compared to 19% who view him negatively. (NBC News)
Washington, D.C., and Maryland filed a lawsuit against Trump for violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits public officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without approval from Congress. The suit claims that Trump’s refusal to divest from his personal businesses has allowed foreign governments to pay the Trump Organization directly for bookings and events. (WAMU)
Rex Tillerson called D.C. “a very mean-spirited town” in his farewell address to State Department employees. He didn’t mention Trump by name, said he hopes the department will “continue to treat each other with respect.” (CBS News)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife took a security detail on their vacation to Greece and Turkey last year, in what one watchdog group said could be a “questionable” use of taxpayer resources. (Politico)
Kellyanne Conway is poised to take over as the White House communications director in the wake of Hope Hicks’ departure. Melania Trump and Mike Pence’s chief of staff have recently encouraged her to take the job. (The Atlantic)
The FEC is investigating whether Devin Nunes violated campaign finance laws. Nunes has until April 24 to respond to the FEC. (The Daily Beast)
New York City’s buildings regulator is investigating possible “illegal activity” at more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties following a report that the real estate developer routinely filed false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings across the city. (Associated Press)
CBS will air its 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels on Sunday, March 25, at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT. The adult-film star says she had an affair with Trump. The president has denied having an affair with Daniels. (CBS News)
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