Day 746: Willful ignorance.
1/ Trump said he doesn’t “have to agree” with his intelligence chiefs on worldwide threats. Trump, agitated after intelligence officials contradicted him several times during congressional testimony last week, said he wants “them to give me their opinion,” but not to share them publicly with Congress. Trump later called the intelligence officials naive and suggested they might need to go back to “school.” Senior intelligence analysts who prepare Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves say Trump displays “willful ignorance” when presented with analysis, and that the use of visual aids, confining briefings to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title as frequently as possible all fail to keep his attention. Two intelligence officers say they have been warned to avoid giving Trump intelligence assessments that contradict stances he has taken in public. (CBS News / Time)
2/ Trump won’t commit to making Robert Mueller’s final report public, and that he doesn’t know if he wants the report made public at all, saying “it depends” on “what it’s going to say.” Trump did say that while he believes it’s time to “get rid of the Russia witch hunt,” he would leave the decision “totally up to the attorney general.” William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, said during his confirmation hearing that the public might see a summary report from the attorney general on Mueller’s conclusions and not the full special counsel’s report. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News)
3/ Trump claimed to have “set the table beautifully” for his next fight with Democrats over his border wall, indicating that he will declare a national emergency on Feb. 15th, to secure funding for a wall. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, privately advised Trump about the consequences of declaring a national emergency to build his border wall. (The Guardian / Washington Post)
- The Trump administration said that reuniting thousands of separated migrant children may not be “within the realm of the possible.” Health and Human Services officials said they don’t know the exact number of children taken from their parents and that finding them would be too much of a “burden.” (NBC News / HuffPost)
4/ Trump spent about nearly 60% of his time in unstructured “Executive Time.” According to a leaked copy of his private schedule for the past three months, Trump usually spends the first five hours of the day in the White House residence watching TV and reading the news, and then calling advisers to discuss what he’s seen and read. Trump’s first meeting of the day usually starts around 11:30am. Trump has spent almost 300 hours in executive time and 77 hours in scheduled meetings since the midterms. (Axios / NBC News / The Guardian)
- For the first time in 69 days, Trump had a chance to play a round of golf. He was joined by Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. (Yahoo Sports)
5/ The White House claimed that Trump’s tan is the result of “good genes” and not due to a spray-tan booth or the use of a tanning bed. According to three people who have spent time in the White House residence, there is no bed or booth in the residence, the East Wing, or on Air Force One. Two senior White House officials also insisted that no such devices exists. (New York Times)
- Trump’s annual physical exam is next week. Last year, Trump’s physician described the president as being in “excellent health” despite revealing that he was borderline obese and has a common form of heart disease. (CNN)
6/ Deutsche Bank refused to give Trump a loan during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump was funding his campaign and expanding his business group’s collection of properties at the same time. The Trump Organization specifically wanted a loan against a Miami property to fund work on the Turnberry golf course in Scotland. A 2018 financial disclosure, Trump owed at least $130 million to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, a unit of the German bank. The decision came down to senior bank officials worrying about what would happen if Trump won the election and then defaulted on the loan. Deutsche Bank would then have to choose between not collecting on the debt or seizing the assets of the president of the United States. (New York Times / CNBC)
Maryland prosecutors have subpoenaed financial documents from Trump’s golf courses in Scotland. The document request is part of an investigation into whether Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution by profiting from his businesses, including Trump Turnberry and Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Times of London / The Hill / Business Insider)
In late 2016, Deutsche Bank tried to shed a $600 million loan to VTB Group, a large Russian state-owned bank. The bank sold $300 million of the loan to another Russian financial institution, Alfa Bank, in December 2016. (Wall Street Journal)
European lawmakers will probe Deutsche Bank’s possible involvement with money laundering by Danske Bank. (Politico)
A Russian-born lobbyist at the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 received half a million dollars in payments before and after the meeting. The large cash deposits to Rinat Akhmetshin were deemed suspicious transactions by bank investigators. (BuzzFeed News)
poll/ 38% of American want Trump to be re-elected in 2020, compared to 57% who say it is time for someone new in the Oval Office. (Monmouth University)
Trump plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to monitor and pressure Iran. The U.S. has been quietly negotiating with Iraq for weeks to move hundreds of troops stationed in Syria to bases in Iraq so they can continue to attack ISIS strongholds from there. Iraqi President Barham Salih said Trump did not ask for permission to station more U.S. troops in his country to watch Iran. Iraq and Iran are allies. (New York Times / Reuters / CBC News)
Pentagon will deploy approximately 3,750 additional troops to the Southern border to install wire barriers and monitor crossings. The new deployment will bring the number of active-duty troops there to around 6,000. The additional troops will be deployed for 90 days. (NPR / CNN / Reuters)
Trump is expected to announce new uniformed leaders for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Trump also will formally nominate a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Wall Street Journal)
Trump nominated a former oil lobbyist to head the Interior Department. David Bernhardt is current deputy chief of the Interior Department and would succeed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned amid multiple scandals and ethics investigations. (New York Times / Politico)
Putin ordered Russia’s military to develop new medium-range missiles in response to the U.S. leaving a key Cold War nuclear arms treaty. (ABC News)
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appointed several climate change deniers to its Science Advisory Board. Wheeler also appointed a scientist who argues for easing radiation regulations to lead the agency’s radiation advisory committee. (Associated Press / CNN)
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