1/ Trump "would consider" pardoning Paul Manafort, according to Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt, who interviewed Trump. "I think he feels bad for Manafort," Earhardt said. "They were friends." Manafort was convicted on eight counts bank and tax fraud. While the White House maintains that Trump is not currently looking to pardon Manafort, Rudy Giuliani said Trump asked his lawyers several weeks ago for their advice on the possibility of pardoning Manafort and former aides under investigation. Trump's personal lawyers cautioned him against considering pardons until Robert Mueller's probe concludes to see if the special counsel's report accuses the president of trying to block the federal probe of his campaign's contacts with Russians. Giuliani said Trump agreed with their advice. (Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times / Mediaite / Politico)

  • Top Republicans in the Senate are warning Trump that it would be a mistake to pardon Manafort. "It would be an enormous mistake and misuse of his power to pardon," said Sen. Susan Collins. The second-ranking Republican senator, GOP Whip John Cornyn also said that a pardon "would be a mistake." Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said that a pardon "would be very damaging to the presidency and to his position as president." (The Hill)

  • One holdout juror prevented Manafort from being convicted on all 18 counts, according to one of the jurors. Paula Duncan, who identifies as a Trump supporter, said the single holdout juror could not come to a guilty verdict on 10 of the charges, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on those 10 counts. (Fox News / The Hill / Newsweek)

  • 👮 Everyone who's been charged as a result of the Mueller investigation. Between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, Mueller has issued more than 100 criminal counts against 32 people and three companies. (New York Times)

2/ Trump complained that "flipping" and cooperating with prosecutors is "not fair" and should "almost be outlawed" during an interview with Fox News. "It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal." Trump continued: "It almost ought to be outlawed. It's not fair." Trump also attacked Jeff Sessions, questioning his character for recusing himself in the Russia investigation, and asking "What kind of man is this?" and that the "only reason I gave him the job" was because he felt "loyalty" to Sessions for signing on to the campaign. "I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department." (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Jeff Sessions pushed back against Trump's latest criticism, saying the Department of Justice would not be "improperly influenced by political considerations." Sessions said in his statement: "I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President's agenda—one that protects the safety and security and rights of the American people, reduces violent crime, enforces our immigration laws, promotes economic growth, and advances religious liberty." (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)

  • Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham signaled that Trump could fire Jeff Sessions and the Senate's schedule might have an opening for confirming a new attorney general after the midterms, but possibly even earlier. Firing Sessions would open the way for firing Mueller or limiting his probe since a new attorney general would not be subject to Sessions' recusal and would be able to control the investigation. (Bloomberg / Vox)

3/ David Pecker was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Cohen and Trump in their criminal investigation into hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign. In exchange for immunity, the CEO of American Media, Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, met with prosecutors and shared details about payments Cohen arranged to Daniels and McDougal, including Trump's knowledge of the deals. Dylan Howard, AMI's chief content officer, is also cooperating with federal prosecutors. Together, Pecker and Howard corroborate Cohen's account implicating Trump in a federal crime (campaign-finance violations). Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis says there are more revelations to come. And, one person close to Cohen claims Cohen wants to tell Mueller that Trump discussed the release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's e-mails during the weekend when the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape dominated the news cycle. Late last night, Trump tweeted: "NO COLLUSION - RIGGED WITCH HUNT!" It's unclear what prompted the tweet. (Wall Street Journal / Vanity Fair / NBC News / New York Times)

4/ The National Enquirer kept a safe with documents about hush money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its relationship with Trump. Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump's inauguration and it's unclear if the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to a new location. (Associated Press)

5/ Trump warned the stock market would crash and that "everybody would be very poor" if he's impeached. He added that "I don't know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job." (CNN / Fox News / ABC News)

poll/ 59% of registered voters approve of Mueller's investigation – an 11 percentage point jump since July. 37% disapprove of Muller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and possible obstruction of justice charges against Trump and members of his administration. (The Hill / Fox News)

poll/ Democrat Beto O'Rourke trails Republican Ted Cruz by 4 percentage points. 45% of registered voters support O'Rourke while 49% support Cruz. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Betsy DeVos is considering a plan to allow school districts to use federal funding to buy guns for teachers. The plan, if enacted, would be unprecedented and would reverse a longstanding position that federal funding should not be used to outfit schools with weapons. Congress passed a $50 million-a-year school safety bill in March that specifically prohibited using the money to buy firearms, but DeVos is apparently looking to a program in federal education law that doesn't mention a specific prohibition on purchasing weapons with federal education funding. (New York Times)

  2. Trump's latest round of tariffs kicked in today, which were followed immediately by retaliatory tariffs from China. The U.S. imposed 25% tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods, affecting 279 Chinese products. China immediately responded with 25% tariffs of their own on an equal amount of American goods, such as chemical products and diesel fuel. Both countries have now imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other's goods — and more tariffs are reportedly on the way. (CNN)

  3. The White House blocked a Senate Rules Committee vote on a bipartisan bill to protect elections from cyber threats. The Secure Elections Act would have changed how states protect their voting systems by giving state election officials security clearances, establishing a channel for sharing information about security with the Department of Homeland Security and other states, and ensuring audits are conducted after federal elections. The vote was unexpectedly canceled yesterday with the Trump administration saying it would not support legislation "that moves power or funding from the states to Washington for the planning and operation of elections." (Yahoo News / Reuters / Vox / CNN)

  4. After claiming that it experienced an attack on its voter database, the DNC now says the apparent phishing attempts were a "test." In a statement, the DNC claimed that it believes the phishing attempt was part of an unauthorized test of its VoteBuilder system by a third party. "We, along with the partners who reported the site," the DNC statement reads, "now believe it was built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test on VoteBuilder." The statement continues: "The test, which mimicked several attributes of actual attacks on the Democratic party's voter file, was not authorized by the DNC, VoteBuilder nor any of our vendors." (ABC News)

  5. Trump asked Sec. of State Mike Pompeo to study the "seizing land from white farmers" and the "large scale killing of farmers" in South Africa. The BBC found in November that there was "no reliable data to suggest farmers were at greater risk of being murdered than the average South African." South Africa responded and accused Trump of seeking to sow division in the country. The redistribution of land in South Africa was a fundamental principle of the African National Congress after the fall of apartheid. (BBC / Reuters)